Italian speakers, can you understand Opera?

submitted by someguy3 edited

FYI: apparently most Opera is in Italian, then French comes in distant second, German third.

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10 Comments

Krusty

Actually not always, it's a very distorted and "melodic" language

Altima NEO

I figure it's a lot like listening to an American speak mangled Spanish. With the inflection and accents all wrong.

PhlubbaDubba

They're actually *not* in Italian, most famous operas predate the italian language you'd be taught in schools.

People who can speak the dialects those operas were written in are apparently now more common in the Americas than they are in Italy, as Italians who encounter self proclaimed native italian speakers from the Americas consistently complain that either they're speaking some incomprehensible other language or that they sound like someone's nona with how weirdly old fashioned they're talking.

This is actually a pretty funny phenomenon across multiple languages that have undergone standardization in the nationalist era, even including speakers of Chinese languages and Japanese, the rooted well established communities often predate standardization, and so the language "native speakers" learn in modern times can actually be incomprehensible to modern people in the place the language came from.

crypticthree

The same thing happened with French in Canada

PhlubbaDubba

Not just Canada, Louisiana and Missouri too, they're heavily endangered dialects but they are still documented

ladicius

I was roughly told the same when I asked native Italians to translate an older choir song from Italy which I liked very much. To them it was mostly like some vaguely familiar sounding language with the occasional understandable word mixed in.

Magister

Yep, also the famous *Funiculì, funiculà* is in Neapolitan for instance.

jordanlund

Same for English, quite a few "American" accents are extinct British accents.

https://owlcation.com/humanities/brits-had-american-accents

AnxiousDuck

It takes some time to get the ears accustomed to the weird vowel shapes but with a libretto it's easier!