Family Tree Searching

When I have the chance to go to Sicily, I am grabbing it, and I am going. This is not just for the scenery and the history. This is a bit more personal. For the longest time, I have been trying to research my family tree. My surname had been changed to what it is today when my great-grandfather was born back in 1917. Before he was born, his father Domenico had come over from Sicily in 1905 then again in 1913, but that was all of the information that we had known. After some research, I found that his last name, and our true surname was Santomauro. Looking on the Ellis Island site, a Domenico Santomauro can be found coming into the United States in 1905 and in 1913. Ellis Island has just recently updated the information even more telling us which town they previously lived in in Italy, and I saw that today. Apparently, Domenico came from S. Stefano, Sicily in 1905. There are two S. Stefano towns in Sicily: Santo Stefano di Camastra and Santo Stefano Quisquina. I looked up the name directory in these little towns; in the first town there are no Santomauros, but in the second town, Santo Stefano Quisquina, there are about five Santomauros. This town seems to be promising. There is no way to find out for though if these people really are my relatives unless I go to Sicily. The other town from 1913, (apparently, there are records of Domenico travelling back and forth) is Villafrati, Sicily. I looked into this town as well and found that it is a town of about 3000 or so inhabitants. I then found a website directory for this town and searched the last name Santomauro; there are about twenty-three people in this little town with this surname. This means, that if Ellis Island is right, that if my research is correct, and he did come over from this little town or the other little town, that I might have nearly twenty-eight possible relatives in Sicily! I have goosebumps right now. 


Performing in Pisciotta

THP 3232 / 4 credits / Summer (offered in Italy) 
“Italian performance and plays from the 20th century are considered in their social and political contexts, including the works of Dario Fo, a performer and playwright who received the Nobel Prize in Literature. The course culminates in a student performance of selected scenes and excerpts, staged in an ancient piazza.”

Over the summer, while I was studying abroad in Pisciotta, Italy through SUNY Purchase, one of the classes that I took was called 20th Century Italian Theatre and Drama. Throughout this course, taught by Professor Champagne, we read through many Italian plays of the twentieth century.

Early on, we started to memorize lines from the plays, because at the conclusion of the class, when we were to leave Pisciotta, we had to put on a play for the entire town. We memorized quite a few scenes from a few different plays, all in Italian. This was no easy feat for me since I have had to previous acting experience, unless a play that I did in 2nd grade counts, and all of the other students in the class were Theater majors. The other aspect of the play that was difficult was that all of the lines that we had to memorize were in Italian. At least this aspect was a little bit easier for me since I had been studying the language much longer than the others had been; most just started to learn the language when we came to Pisciotta. Aside from our scheduled class times, where we would rehearse, our professor would schedule time for us to do rehearsals in the old piazza where we were to perform. I ended up acting in a few of the scenes in the play such as in La distanza della luna by Italo Calvino in which I played “la Luna” or the Moon, L’ispezione by Ugo Betti in which I played Iole, and in Dario Fo’s Non si paga! Non si paga! in which I was an extra dancer for one of the scenes.

After weeks of practice, we finally performed our stitched together scenes in front of the entire town in their old piazza. I am a person of extreme stage fright, so I did not know how I was going to be able to do it, but somehow, with a lot of encouragement from the locals and from my friends, I did; I went out into the piazza and said my lines without forgetting anything. I may have completely avoided looking at the audience, but I performed nonetheless. One thing that my professor was nervous of was that throughout practices I was always to quiet, but after the performance she congratulated me and told me it was as if I had turned into a completely different person which does make sense since I was playing a range of other characters. As much as I may have detested going to extra rehearsals and fearing the thought of performing a play in another language that is not my native to tongue to native speakers, I think that if given the chance, I would do it again and again, as long as I have Pisciotta and the people I was surrounded with to work with again.



Thanksgiving in Italy

As most of us know (and for the foreigners who do not), the United States celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. Typically, it is a time when people travel all over the country to be with their friends, their family, and their loved ones that they haven’t seen in a while simply to partake in the traditions of cooking, eating, and being together. This year was a bit different for me since I am in Italy, and Thanksgiving is a holiday that is unique to the United States. Here in Urbino, there are only a handful other Americans; most of the Erasmus students are from European countries. There were a few of us however who still wanted to do something for Thanksgiving. Since I absolutely love cooking, I went a little overboard, but it was Thanksgiving; you’re supposed to go overboard! The one American girl, who is also from my home state of Pennsylvania, was going to be gone all day, so she would not be able to cook, but still wanted to join in for dinner so she brought some wine instead. The one American guy, who goes to my school in the states, decided to make a desert; he made fried apples with cinnamon and sugar, which was surprisingly good. We lack an oven so certain things were a bit difficult, but we managed. I went to the grocery store and picked up a few things that I’d be needing for the dinner, such as the turkey. They did not have a whole turkey, which was a bit of a disappointment, but I knew they weren’t going to have them. Instead, they had some giant turkey breasts. I picked up one giant turkey breast which was also overpriced, but I just did not care because of the fact that it was Thanksgiving. Earlier on in the day I had started to cook. I made some roasted red peppers with olive oil and garlic on the stovetop, and I then put them in the fridge because, I’m not sure about elsewhere, but in United States, roasted red peppers are typically served cold. When I came back from the store, I decided to get the turkey going right away, even though we were not going to be eating for another couple of hours. Since we lack an oven, I decided to put the turkey breast in a pot with onions, spices, and a broth, and to then slow cook it with the lid on, so that it would be nice and juicy. Along with the turkey and roasted red peppers, I decided to get some carrots and corn going as well. I started boiling the carrots first so they would soften up and then added the corn with a bit of salt, pepper and a little bit of butter. After putting that aside, we decided that we should make some stuffing. So, my friend who is from England started the stuffing, which was then also cooked on one of the only two burners that we have on the stove. Bread, spices, onion and garlic, zucchini, and egg were thrown into this stuffing, and being someone who doesn’t normally like stuffing, I’d have to say that this one was exceptional. When the stuffing was finished, we started boiling water in order to make mashed potatoes. After throwing in some garlic, butter, and a splash of milk, I hand mashed the potatoes, and Thanksgiving dinner was just about complete.  The English girl then made some gravy from the broth that the turkey had been cooking in for the past few hours, and we were ready! Aside from the three Americans, myself included, we had people joining us from England, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium, Australia, and France; we called them our adopted-Americans for the night. For them, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I kept inviting them. I was very proud of myself when everyone kept complementing me on my dishes and especially on the turkey; the other girl from Pennsylvania who is a vegetarian had some turkey for the sake of tradition and then helped herself to seconds of the turkey because she liked it so much! We ate and drank wine, went around the table and shared stories (mostly about American history and customs and the like) and what we were thankful for, and of course we got into some discussions about Native Americans. Personally, I always feel a bit guilty celebrating Thanksgiving since I do come from some Cherokee background, but I mainly do it the traditions, the food, and just being together with everyone. We then had the fried cinnamon and sugar apples that had been made, and a giant block of Italian chocolate that the Australian girl had brought. All in all, I’d say that Thanksgiving in Italy was a success. We were together, we had a grand time, and we ate a lot of food. I found it interesting that the first time I hosted Thanksgiving, I was out of the country. Who would have that would ever happen?


Storia della lingua italiana: Dante teorico del volgare…

Our professor gave us (Erasmus students) a little sheet that told what in the textbook we should study for the exam. I did one section of the reading, which was only four pages, and it took me over an hour to read it, understand it, and take notes from it. I’ve definitely got a busy weekend of note taking coming up!

“…per un pubblico che non è in grado di comprenderla lingua dei classici il giudizio di Dante nasce dunque, oltre che da una fiducia profonda nelle possibilità della nuova lingua, da un’istanza di divolgarazione o commicazione più largaed efficace…”

“…Nel Convivio il latino è reputato superiore in quanto utilizzato nell’arte…”

“…Nel De vulari eloquentia, invece, la superiorità del volgare viene riconsciuta in nome della sua naturalezza, ma la letterarietà della lingua latina diventa uno stimolo per la regolarizzazione del volgare…”

“…Alcuni insinuarono il sospetto che il trattato non fosse di Dante, che si trovasse di fronte ad un falso. La tesi della falsità del De vulagri eloquentia non era disinteressata: faceva comodo sopratutto alla culturea fiorentina, che mal tollerava le pagine in cui Dante aveva condannato duramente (come vedremo) il volgare toscano, preferendogli il bolognese e il siciliano illustre, e negando che il toscano stesso potesse indentificarsi con la lingua degna della volgar poesia…”

“…Alessandro Manzoni tentò di sminuirne l’importanza, affermando che il De vulgari eloquentianon aveva per oggetto la lingua in generale, né l’italiano in maniera di una specifica, ma solo la poesia…”

“…Agli occhi di Dante, però, l’intreccio tra i due temi era indissolubile, e solo la perfetta definizione del concetto di ‘lingua’ permetteva lafondazione di una letteratura in volgare…”

“…Stabilisce che fra tutte le creature l’unico essere dotato di linguaggio è l’uomo; dunque il linguaggio stesso caratterizza l’essere umano in quanto tale,  diversificandolo ad esempio dagli animali bruti, gerarchiamente più in basso di lui, e dagli angeli, posti più in alto…”

“…Il volgare per farsi ‘letteraro,’ per arrivare a una dignità paragonatile a quella del latino, deve acquistare stabilità, distinguendosi dal parlato popolare…”

“…La sua attenzione si concentra sull’Europa, dove nei paesi del’Nord e del Nord-Est (che noi diremmo germanici e slavi) si parlano lingue in cui si dice ; nei paesi del Centro-Sud si parlano la lingua d’oϊl (il francese), la lingua d’oc (il provenzale), il volgare del (l’italiano); in Grecia e nelle zone orientale è diffuso il greco…”

“…Vendendo a trattare del gruppo linguistica costituito da francese, provenzale e italiano…”

“…L’esame delle varie parlate si conclude con la loro sistematica eliminazione: tutte, nella loro forma naturale, sono indegne del volgare illustre. La condanna colpisce non solo volgari ‘impuri,’ di confine, come il piemontese; il giudizio è negativo per il friulano, il sardo, il romanesco, il marchigianoe via dicendo. Tra le più severe condanne c’è quella per il toscano e il fiorentino. Migliori degli altri risultano il siciliano e il bolognese, ma non nella loro forma populare…”

“…Ecco perché il toscano viene condannato, al pari delle altre parlate italiane: non solo la lingua popolare toscana non interessa Dante…”

“…Il trattato De vulgari eloquentia da libro di linguistica si transforma dunque in trattato di teaoria letteraria…”


Storia della lingua italiana – giorni 5 & 6

LessicaliIl lessico o vocabolario è il complesso delle parole e delle locuzioni di una lingua, oppure anche solo una parte di tale complesso. Ad esempio l’insieme delle parole e delle locuzioni proprie di un settore del sapere umano o di un’attività umana, oppure l’insieme delle parole e delle locuzioni utilizzate da una particolare collettività, o in una particolare epoca, o in una particolare, o da un particolare scrittore, oppure l’insieme delle parole e delle locuzioni utilizzate o comprese da una particolare persona. I termini “lessico” e “vocabolario” sono sinonimi ma l’uso del termine “vocabolario” prevale in riferimento a collettività o a singole persone. (a lexicon, essentially a catalogue of a given language’s words, and a grammar, a system of rules which allow for the combination of those words into meaningful sentences.)

Filosofia del linguaggio / Philosophy of language : concerned with four central problems: the nature of meaning, language use, language cognition, and the relationship between language and reality. For continental philosophers, however, the philosophy of language tends to be dealt with, not as a separate topic, but as a part of logic

Nessuna lingua è perfetta

Da Tèramo

Da Tèremo                    staz(z)zione

Claude Favre de Vaugelas –  barone di Pérouges, (Meximieux, 6 gennaio 1585 – Parigi, 26 febbraio 1650), è stato un grammatico francese; Serio, preciso e riflessivo, acquistò ben presto la reputazione di un uomo che conosceva a fondo tutte le regole della lingua francese che parlava perfettamente. Non ci fu bisogno d’altro per farlo scegliere, sebbene egli non avesse ancora scritto nessuna opera, come uno dei membri della Académie française, alla fine del 1634. Egli fu molto utile per la composizione del Dizionario dell’Accademia francese a cui dedicò quindici anni partecipando alla redazione delle parole che cominciavano dalla lettera “A” alla “I”; Le sue opere non sono numerose. Secondo Pellisson egli aveva scritto qualche poesia in italiano molto apprezzata ed anche in francese ma solo in modo estemporaneo. (Claude Favre de Vaugelas – Baron Pérouges (Meximieux, January 6, 1585 – Paris, 26 February 1650) was a French grammarian, Serious, precise and thoughtful, soon acquired the reputation of a man who knew thoroughly all the rules of the French language which he spoke perfectly. There was no need to do it choose the other, although he had not yet written any work as a member of the Académie française, at the end of 1634. He was very useful for the composition of the Dictionary of the French Academy to which he devoted fifteen years contributing to the drafting of the words beginning with the letter “A” to “I” His works are not numerous. According Pellisson he had written some poetry in Italian and also very popular in French, but only so impromptu.)

Alessandro Manzoni: (7 March 1785 – 22 May 1873) was an Italian poet and novelist. He is famous for the novel The Betrothed (orig. Italian: I Promessi Sposi) (1827), generally ranked among the masterpieces of world literature; the novel is also a symbol of the Italian Risorgimento, both for its patriotic message and because it was a fundamental milestone in the development of the modern, unified Italian language; it is generally agreed to be his greatest work, and the model of modern Italian language; revised The Betrothed in Tuscan-Italian, and in 1840 republished it in that form, with a historical essay, Storia della colonna infame, on details of the 17th century plague in Milan so important in the novel; also wrote a small treatise on the Italian language.

Nuovo vocabulario 1873

Glottologia : (detta più modernamente linguistica storica o linguistica diacronica) è la disciplina che si occupa dello studio strutturale delle lingue e delle loro famiglie etimologiche e grammaticali, considerando i loro rapporti e sviluppi in diacronia. Si contrappone alla linguistica descrittiva o linguistica sincronica, che studia lo stato di una lingua in un certo momento (ma non necessariamente la fase attuale). Lo studioso di glottologia è tradizionalmente detto glottologo, ma dobbiamo notare che oggi sono molto più usate, soprattutto fra gli addetti ai lavori, le parolelinguistica e linguista. Gli strumenti principali della glottologia sono l’analisi delle attestazioni storiche e la comparazione delle caratteristiche interne — fonologia, morfologia, sintassi, lessico — di lingue attuali ed estinte. L’obiettivo è tracciare lo sviluppo e le affiliazioni genetiche delle lingue nel mondo, e di comprendere il processo di evoluzione linguistica. Una classificazione di tutte le lingue in alberi genealogici è al tempo stesso un risultato importante ed uno strumento necessario di questo sforzo.

Historical linguistics (diachronic linguistics [glottologia]) is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:

  • to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages
  • to reconstruct the pre-history of languages and determine their relatedness, grouping them into language families (comparative linguistics)
  • to develop general theories about how and why language changes
  • to describe the history of speech communities
  • to study the history of words, i.e. etymology.)


Graziadio Isaia Ascoli : an Italian linguist; an autodidact, he published his first important work on the languages of the orient in 1854; 1860 was appointed professor of linguistics at the Accademia scientifico-letteraria in Milan and introduced the study of comparative philology, Romance studies, and Sanskrit; made an important contribution to the study of the relationship between Indo-European and Semitic and was pioneer in the fields of Romani language and Celtic languages;  he is above all known for his studies of Italian dialects, which he was first to classify systematically; In the Italian language question (questione della lingua), he did not accept a standard language based on the Florentine dialect as proposed by Alessandro Manzoni, but argued for a leveling of the dialects;  he is founder of the so-called substratum theory, which explains the formation and development of languages as a result of interference with previous languages spoken by populations in question.


Storia della lingua italiana – giorni 1, 2, 3, 4

This class is an interesting one because I can barely make out what the old professor is saying, but I’m following along easily simply because of a paper that I wrote last year. Pretty much everything I wrote about, we have been talking about. I’ve been trying to go through the textbook, and it’s taking some work, but I am comprehending some of it. I’ll get there eventually!  

Indo-European –> Italic –> Latino-Faliscan –> Latin –> Vulgar Latin

Vulgar Latin : any of the non-standard forms of Latin from which the Romance languages developed
La lingua vulgare : what the population spoke
1300 – scritto in Latino
Dante – scritto nella dialetta fiorentina e Latino
Latina era la lingua più importante ed illustre. Dante pensava che la dialetta era più importante di Latino perchè  era la lingua delle gente.
Latina è una lingua ch’è creatata per le intelletuale.

I dialetti

  • Piemontese
  • Lombarda
  • Ligure
  • Emiliano-romoagnola
  • Romagnola
  • Gallico marhigiano
  • Siciliano
  • Fiorentina
  • Milanese
  • Calabrese
  • Napoletana
  • Sienese
  • Genovese
  • Toscana
  • Veneto
  • Ett…

La teoria dell’etrusco antenato del toscano, tuttavia, per quanto curiosa, ha ben poco peso, perché rimase sempre marginale..

**Non c’é una lingua pura

La stampa / Gutenburg’s printing press 1450: Cicero’s De Oratore possibly published first followed closely, of course, by the works of Boccaccio, Petrarca, and Dante

L’Accademia della Crusca: an Italian Society for scholars, and Italian linguist and philologists; founded in 1583; maintain the purity of the Italian language; 1612 l’Accademia published it’s first dictionary Vocabulario della lingua italiana

Dante’s De vulagri eloquentia written in Latin; the historical evolution of language,abandoned the books halfway through for unknown reasons


Sto provando…

I’ve made it through my second week of classes. It’s been hard, but I’m starting to understand a bit more when the professors are talking. I’m also starting to try and speak more Italian. It’s hard for me because I get nervous and even though I know the words, I suddenly forget them or how they’re used when I need them. With more practice though, it should become easier. My Linguistica generale class is not too bad. I’m a bit afraid of the professor because she’ll randomly yell at students if they’re somehow disturbing the class in the slightest way. I understand a bit of what is going on simply because I’ve studied some linguistics in the past year when I took Phonetics and Language Development in Children, so at least I have that knowledge to fall back on. I have a lot to read though, which means a lot to translate and try to comprehend. My Storia della lingua italiana class is not bad. The professor’s a cute little old man, but, on the downside, I can barely understand a word he says simply because he’ll go off into random tangents of a select few words and what they are in other dialects. I’m following what’s going on simply because, last year, for my History of Ancient Rome class I wrote a paper on the history of the Italian language and how it developed from Latin to what it now. From what I gather, most of what we have been going over in class is actually what I wrote in paper. Along with the textbook that I need to translate, I think I should also study my own paper! One strange thing about the class that surprised me is that he reads to us! Yes, that’s right, the professor actually takes out a book La Ragazza dell’addio and reads it to us. He reads a page or two then picks out certain phrases or words in those one or two pages to analyze for the next forty-five minutes or so. He’s quite an interesting old man. I think he more than likely has more knowledge packed into his brain than he knows what to do with. Although, he is a bit hard of hearing and does not speak English.  The exams in December worry me though because unlike in America, most of the exams in Italy are oral exams. I will have to study so much. I’m going to be so nervous. My Italian is nowhere near as good as it should be. I’m much better when it comes to writing. I’ll just need to lock myself in my room and study all day and night. Forever. It feels like I’m studying for midterms every day. It’s crazy for me, but I suppose it must be done. Apparently, everyone is going to Firenze or Rimini this weekend minus me, so I guess I’ll just take this time to study. Although, I would love to be in Florence. It’s such a beautiful place. What I would give to go back. I’ll just look at it as I’m saving money. My other class isn’t too bad, but I feel like there’s no real flow to it. We’re not following a book or anything of the sort, which is not good for me because I am visual learner. It’s my Estensivo C class. She’s supposed to be teaching us more in depth Italian, but it’s not going over well. Even the more advanced students can’t follow what’s going on; her “methods” seem to be all over the place. The exams for her class should be interesting. I’ll try to start getting to typing up the notes this weekend. It’s all just been a lot to take in and try to comprehend. I’ll get it eventually. I know I will, but it’s going to take time. Things like this are tough when you have concentration problems and never developed study habits when you were a child. The thing keeping me going? It’s my last year as an undergrad, I want this to be my best year, and I’ll be back in the states in less than two months where bagels and Chinese food are plentiful.