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Tog
2007-Mar-16, 08:13 PM
Quick and really silly, but I can't seem to find an answer. It's for a very short story (character background) and I need to know what an Englishman who was killed in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 would have thought if he heard a modern Itallian accent. Would he think it was Roman, or Itallian, or regional, like Tuscan or Sicillian? Would an English soldier in 1060-1066 even have a chance to come in contact with an Itallian (or whatever) accent?

Thanks

papageno
2007-Mar-16, 09:31 PM
He might have thought that it was some regional dialect, but I doubt he would have been able to locate the origin beyond "somewhere south of Normandy".
Considering the Battle of Hastings, he probably would have thought of some French dialect.

Whether an English soldier would come into contact with an Italian accent depends on how far he or an Italian would travel. Besides war, I doubt that peasants (well, let's say, lower social classes) would travel far, so it's unlikely he would have met a "popular" (vulgar) accent.

Trivia:
There was no common spoken language identifiable with modern Italian at that time. And as a written language, Italian started a couple of hundred years later.
It became a spoken language in the trenches of World War I.


Edit to add:
The question is neither quick nor silly. You have to actually know and understand the conditions of that time.

hhEb09'1
2007-Mar-16, 09:43 PM
There was no common spoken language identifiable with modern Italian at that time. And as a written language, Italian started a couple of hundred years later.
It became a spoken language in the trenches of World War I.Interesting. What did "they" speak before WWI?

Tog
2007-Mar-16, 10:01 PM
Thanks. The articles I found failed to supply any years when things came together in to a common language.

So then, would someone fluent in modern Italian be able to converse with someone like Leonardo da Vinci (for example)?

01101001
2007-Mar-16, 10:13 PM
Would your average English person then have run into Latin in church, or school?

Tog
2007-Mar-16, 10:41 PM
The premise of the character (comic book world) is that they were mortally wounded in the Battle of Hastings and a group of time travelers came back to clear the field of those who would be die eventually anyway, but could be saved. This gave the travelers an army of sorts, already trained and with at least some experience in hand to hand warfare, without putting undue risk on the timeline. The group that is doing this is a hold out faction left over from World War 2, and comes from Italy. I'm just looking for a way to imply that it's that group based on the Englishman's available information. My first though was to say that the accent "sounded odd, maybe Roman". then figured I might do well to actually see if there were any romans there ate the time. It didn't look good.;)

I hadn't thought about the church though. Since this guy was on the side of King Harold II, who was excommunicated by the Pope, it stands to reason the the Roman Catholic Church must have had some presence there at the time.

papageno
2007-Mar-16, 10:59 PM
Interesting. What did "they" speak before WWI?

You have to remember that what educated people spoke did not reflect what not-so-educated people spoke.

Italian as a language exists in written form since the 13th century. But the people (vulgus) did not use it: they used the language they learned from their parents, the local dialect.
Italian went on being a principally literary language until the Unity (about 1860).
With a unified Italy came a centralized bureaucracy, which included school curricula. At that point Italian was being taught in school in whole country, but it became a common language spoken by the people with lower education* only later, when it became necessary for a Tuscan to tell a Sicilian to keep his head down to dodge the bulletts.

The fact that Italian stayed for centuries a literary language is proven by its lack of evolution. I can read without translation Dante's "Comedy" (14th century), Galileo's "Dialogue" (16th century) and Manzoni (19th century).
It's only when it started to be used by the masses that Italian as language started to evolve.


*Lingua franca, if you like, just as Latin was for scholars, or Greek in the Mediterrean area in ancient times.

papageno
2007-Mar-16, 11:02 PM
I hadn't thought about the church though. Since this guy was on the side of King Harold II, who was excommunicated by the Pope, it stands to reason the the Roman Catholic Church must have had some presence there at the time.

"Get your hands off me, you damn dirty Catholic!"
:razz:

Disinfo Agent
2007-Mar-16, 11:14 PM
It's for a very short story (character background) and I need to know what an Englishman who was killed in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 would have thought if he heard a modern Itallian accent.Vulgar Latin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgar_Latin)?...


Would he think it was Roman, or Itallian, or regional, like Tuscan or Sicillian?Are you serious? Those are modern dialect divisions. In 1066, the Romance languages were still in the early stages of their differentiation.


Would an English soldier in 1060-1066 even have a chance to come in contact with an Itallian (or whatever) accent?Quite possibly. He could have gone on a pilgrimage to some holy site in Southern Europe, or there could be priests from Italy in Great Britain or Normandy.

JohnD
2007-Mar-16, 11:42 PM
Tog,
You have read "Janissaries" by Jerry Pournelle, have you?
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janissaries_%28novel%29

But have you seen:http://www.italian-language.biz/italian/history.asp
An adjacent page refers to," The dialects of Italian identified by the Ethnologue are Tuscan, Piemontese, Sardinian, Abruzzese, Pugliese (Apulian), Umbrian, Laziale, Central Marchigiano, Cicolano-Reatino-Aquilano, and Molisan. Other dialects are Milanese, Brescian, Bergamasc, Venetian, Modenese, Bolognese, Sicilian and so on, essentially one per city."
So your medieval Angle or Saxon (NOT an Englishman, please) would have heard someone speaking in a dialect like one of those. If he was sufficiently sophisticated, he might have identified them as a citizen of that region or city, NOT an Italian. And he would have thought of himself as a fyrd (follower) or housecarl (soldier) of a certain chieftain rather than as an Angle or Saxon, let alone 'English'.

I know this is not strictly relevant, but of languages, Polish has the least regional differences. This is because of the years when Poland as a country did not exist, from the Napoleonic wars to the end of WW1. All that time, the Polish language was the one thing that kept the nation together. Althought it was a mother tongue, it was actively taught to maintain it in the face of official German or the also-Slavic Russian by teachers who tended to use a standard style, so that regional dialects died out. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_language


John

Disinfo Agent
2007-Mar-16, 11:48 PM
I disagree with JohnD on several accounts:


I question whether those dialects would have been different enough to be distinguished in 1066.
By 1066, it was possible to speak of "England", as the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had recently been united. (And of course after the Battle of Hastings they were definitively welded together.)
While there was no Italian state in 1066, the word "Italian" could have been used as a geographical descriptor. Whether this was common at the time, I don't know.

Tog
2007-Mar-17, 01:51 AM
No, I've never read that book. I read mainly mysteries, and vey little science fiction.

I know that the language spoken today is different, and that it will vary from place to place, but I was wondering if a person in 1066 could hear modern Italian and assign it to an area in Europe in 1066.

Delvo
2007-Mar-17, 03:03 PM
What Italians spoke back then wouldn't have been modern Italian exactly, but it would have been related and similar, and quite likely mutually intelligible with one degree of effort or another (just like someone today who speaks German can often figure out what's being said or written in Dutch). And they would have had a general common sound to them, again just like the modern Germanic languages (arguably including or excluding English, the one with the most non-Germanic influences) all have a basic Germanic sound. It's quite common for people to hear a language or accent and be able to determine which family it's a member of even if they can't identify it specificly. Also, since there had been less time for language evolution by then since Latin had been standard, any Latin-derived language, including what was spoken in Italy, would have been more like Latin than its descendants today are.

So, if your 1066 Englishman had heard someone from Italy, parts of the Alps, or southern France before, or possibly even the Iberian Peninsula, he would recognize that general family sound and know that these new people were from somewhere in that same region. But might not know geography well enough to describe that other than "beyond Normandy" or "beyond Paris". Also, if he had much experience with Latin in churches, he might be able to connect it to Latin. I can hear the similarity myself, depending on how the Latin speaker does his inflections and pacing and such.

Jens
2007-Mar-19, 03:13 AM
One other thing to consider is this: many English speakers today would probably not be able to recognize the difference between Spanish and Italian and Portuguese from the accents. So it is probably unlikely that a person at Hastings would have any idea what it was. A strange language would probably be the extent of his awareness. He might think it was Greek.