For Valenti, local dialects are a crucial aspect of life in small Italian towns. âThe dialect, like the game of pÃ©tanque, was a way of establishing our identity,â he said.
Over the past five years, the retired English teacher has helped create a local vocabulary dictionary as part of the Alimentiamo la Memoria (infants memory) research project, funded by the Tre Fiumi Library ( three rivers) of the village. Yet Valenti also knows full well that due to globalization and the influence of mass media, local dialects have been reduced to places like bocciodromo, where generations who grew up without television have congregated for decades. decades.
Yet pÃ©tanque is no longer as popular a pastime as it once was. âThe needs of young people have changed so much from ancient times,â Valenti said with a hint of nostalgia in his voice. âSixty years ago, each osteria [local restaurant] had its own petanque grounds. This is where we meet to play on summer evenings and vacations. At the games, there were entertainment, friends and even pretty girls.
The referee blew his whistle and Valenti who was supposed to score apologized, turned on his heel and left me alone to watch the rest of the game.
I watched the players, trying to understand what they were saying. One after the other, they think about the position of the pÃ©tanque at the other end of their lane and then leap forward, throwing their own ball towards their target: the pÃ©tanque or el balai (the small ball that the players have need to send their bocce near to score). The men hummed and raised their hands whenever a boccia came close to their opponent’s boccino.
“A gh’era no d’andÃ su!” A gh’era da buciÃ o mat na bucia in the background. Paragia su ciapa al balai u po fa partÃ¬a! â a man shouted angrily at his partner, gesturing wildly with his hands. I got the gist of it they were on the verge of losing the game – but I couldn’t figure out the details.
“What are they saying?” Desperate, I asked the man next to me for help.
“Don’t you understand the dialect?” His expression suggested he knew he was asking a rhetorical question. He went on to explain, in Italian: âThat man over there complained that his mate didn’t hit the boccino. If he had, they could have won the game.
Two courts to my left, another player was arguing with the referee.