The Language of Italian American Community in the U.S.A.

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THE LANGUAGE OF THE ITALIAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY IN THE USA

CONTENTS:
1-HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

2-THE ITALIAN-AMERICAN LANGUAGE

3-STUDIES ON THE ETHNIC GROUP

4-DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE I AND II GENERATION IMMIGRANTS

5-VIDEO DOCUMENTATION

6-BIBLIOGRAPHY

1-HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

Italian Americans are the United States citizens of italian origin. Italian Americans are the fourth largest European ethnic group in the USA. About 5.5 million Italians immigrated to the U.S. from 1820 to the present. The greatest surge of immigration occurred in the period between 1880 and 1920 and alone brought more than 4 million Italians to America. About the 80% of the Italian immigrants came from the southern regions of the country, especially from Sicilia, Campania, Abruzzo and Calabria. These were mainly agricultural and overpopulated regions, where much of the population had been impoverished by centuries of foreign misrule, and the taxes imposed on the South after Italian unification in 1861. After unification, the Italian government encouraged emigration to relieve economic pressures in the South. In the U.S. most Italians began their new lives as unskilled, working as manual workers, mining camps and in agriculture. Italian Americans gradually moved from the lower rungs of the economic scale in 1890-1910 to a level comparable to the national average by 1970. By 1990, more than the 65% of Italian Americans were managerial, professional, or “white-collar” workers. The Italian-American communities have often been characterized by strong ties with family, the Catholic Church, fraternal organizations and political parties. Today, over 17 million Americans claim Italian origins. Italians and their descendents in America helped in giving shape to the country, and were in turn shaped by it. No common identity is shared by all Italian Americans; rather, they are as diverse as the American population itself. They have gained importance in politics, sports, media, fine arts, culinary arts, and numerous other fields of endeavor. Because of these migrations we find that some communities coming from the same Italian region have established in the same area in the USA; an example is the fisher community of San Pedro in Los Angeles.

This community is composed mainly by fishers coming from Sicilia and from the small island of Ischia that came to America at the end of the XIX century and started a new trade fishing swordfishes and tuna fishes in the traditional Italian way called tonnara. The migrations in general interested mainly the north-east area of the USA for example we can find many “Little Italy” in New York City, Philadelphia, Providence, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland but also in California as in San Francisco and San Diego. As already mentioned the Italian-American one is one of the largest community in the United States, in the 2000 the U.S. Census counted 15.6 milion people, the 5.6% of the entire population of the country. The ten states with the largest Italian-American communities are: 1. New York 2.737.146 people 2. New Yersey 1.503.637 people 3. California 1.450.884 people 4. Pennsylvania 1.418.465 people 5. Florida 1.003.977 people

2-THE ITALIAN-AMERICAN LANGUAGE

The main features of the Italian-American language concern especially pronounciation, rhythm and the lexicon. The original language of this community, the Italian, includes a strong pronunciation of the –r sound, so the result is that the Italian-American speakers tend to have a clear rothic pronunciation. The h sound at the beginning of the words is nearly never pronounced and the diphthong –th is pronounced [d]. Other result of the ancestral Italian language remains the tendence to pronounce quite strongly the sound of the double consonants for example the -tt- in butter. Hereafter it is for the Italian-American speakers hard to pronounce all the suffixes ending by consonant, even more if coming from the southern regions of the Italian peninsula;...
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