Local dialect

A community has distinguishing features that define the identity of it. Of such traits, the language assumes a remarkable role. Also Gasperina has its own “official” language, a dialect with its peculiarities. The phoneme that mostly characterizes the Gasperinese dialect is a dental cacuminal, represented by the grapheme  –ḍ-  (cfr. Dictionary of the dialects of the Southern Calabria by Giuseppe Antonio Martino), corresponding to the Italian language letter  –l–  geminate, and traceable in some dialect words as chiḍu (that), ceḍu  (bird), spaḍa (shoulder), gneḍu (lamb). This sound also comes to be the reason for sarcasm from the neighboring countries that call the Gasperinesis viḍiviḍi,  expression that the linguistic Gasperinese tradition brings in the sentence ‘u tempu hàcia viḍi, viḍi  (it drizzles – cfr. Words and others of the dialect of Gasperina by Gori Celia).

As in the other Calabrian languages, the Gasperinese shows influences coming from the other people’s languages, people that came in Calabria during the centuries. Terms related to the ancient Greek, the Latin, the French, the Spanish can be found, but also to the English, thanks to the coming back home of emigrants that lived in the United States of America. For some phonemes, therefore, graphemes coming from the languages that have left trace in the Gasperinese dialect are used. A demonstration of this is the graphema –χ- (aspirate ch) Greek; the best example of the use of this grapheme can be found in the dialect term χialona (turtle) that remembers, both in the meaning and in the sound, the ancient Greek term χeλώnη (chelòne).

The –i–,  followed by a vocal at the beginning of word, or in intervocalic position in body of word, or in position between the –h–  and a vowel, assumes the role and sound of semiconsonant and, in such case, it is represented by the grapheme  –j–  (jod used in the archaic Greek language, corresponding to –i– followed by vocal). Example: chjanu (slow), Jiricuccu (street of the town), jinoṣṭṛa (broom).
The –h– assumes value of consonant  veil fricative, initial or intervocalic (cfr. New Dialect Dictionary of the Calabria by Gerhard Rohlfs). By itself, it is a phonetic change where the Latin initial –f– is converted in one glottal –h-; this change, once present especially in the Spanish language, today we can find it in some dialects of southern Spain (Andalusia, Estremadura.), and in some areas in Calabria. Examples of Gasperinese terms: hicu (fig), cahè (coffee), arrahara (slow tired proceeding).

Other typical sounds  of the Gasperinese dialect are traceable in some connections such as: –ḍṛ– (nḍṛaca, portulaca); ṣṭṛ- (ṣṭṛata, street; noṣṭṛu, our) e –ṭṛ- (ṭṛacca, railway; paṭṛa, father)

We should underline that in the Gasperinese language there can be, according to the context, the use of the occlusive voiced labial  –b– or the allophone –v-. It is said: vaju a Brisi (I go to Brisi) or ‘a huntana e Vrisi (the fountain of Vrisi); for the pronoun vui  (you), we can find for example: ṭṛa de vui (between you) or vegnu cu‘ bui (I come with you). Terms used in the Gasperinese language, also inserted in the dialects of some neighboring countries, are cciòmu (child) and cciòma (child/children).

Listen to the phonemes

     stiḍa (star), ceḍu (bird)  

χ      χialona (turtle), Xχioppu (district of the town)  

     chjanu (slow), Jiricuccu (district of the town)  

h      hicu (fig), cahè (coffee)  

ḍṛ     nḍṛaca (portulaca), nḍṛioli (kind of olive quality)  

ṣṭṛ     ṣṭṛata (street), noṣṭṛu (our)  

ṭṛ      paṭṛa (father), Menṭṛavu (Montauro)  

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