Interview with

Alessandro Zacchei

Rare Language Specialist - Piamontéis (Italo-Romance)

Name: Alessandro Zacchei
Nationality or Ethnicity: Italian
Where do you live?: Piedmont, Boca
Representative of rare language: Piemuntèis

1. What’s your story? How did you get exposed to this rare language?

My  mother is a Piedmontese mother-tongue speaker, while my father is from  Tuscany. So, only my mother and her relatives spoke Piedmontese with me  and among themselves. Of course, being born and raised here, apart from  one's family, everybody (especially elders) used to speak Piedmontese in  informal situations when I was a kid.

2. How would you describe the efforts being made, at the civil, social, and governmental languages, to preserve this language?

I'm  afraid I have to say that almost no effort at all is being made to  preserve the language. The only efforts that exist in order to help  Piedmontese, are those of amateur and volunteers, who set up activities  in this language. In general these activities are in the artistic fields  (theatre plays, poetry contests...) and only few of them involve  children. I know that my claims may not be accurate and represent the  whole area of Piedmontese, but they define at least the NE of Piedmont.

3. How often do you get the chance to use this language in your daily life?

I have few chances of using this language. I work near Milan, where  another “dialect” is spoken, which is in my opinion, mutually  intelligible. Therefore I tend to use a lot of phrases and speak some  Piedmontese while at work. I am generally understood. While at home, I  don't speak Piedmontese with others than my mother. In society, I always  try to speak with whom I know understands or supposedly does. In  numbers, I think some less than 10% of my conversations are held in  Piedmontese. And that is because I want to support the use of the  language.

4. What is your message to young people who wish to learn this language?

Even  if I have pictured a difficult situation for the language, it is  actually still alive. I know a lot of people who still speak it in their  daily life, in most daily situations. So it's not so difficult to find  people who speak fluently and can teach you, or let you practice if  you're a fluent but “dormant” speaker. Don't focus on only one variety  of the language, they can all be used and mixed, in my opinion. Finally,  speak it. Whatever is your level, use some phrases, wherever you are,  whatever the situation may be, use it, and with kids too. Practicing is a  good way to learn. And this way, you'll also help the language be  heard.

The International Association of Hyperpolyglots - HYPIA. (c) 2020

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