Tag Archives: italian pronunciation

The Evolution of the Italian Language, alas!
by Mario Fusco

Italian Language Revisionism

It is no news that, for several years, separatist tendencies have become apparent in Italian political and social life. The “rich” North sees itself as a bastion of probity, industriousness, and fiscal responsibility, and profess that they are tired of picking up the tab for the shiftless, corrupt, crime-ridden South. The South sneer at the Northerners’ sanctimoniousness, and point out that the backward state of the South is in large part a consequence of the policy of despoliation and neglect that followed the annexation of the Southern Kingdom by the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1861. And, they rightly add, corruption is not an exclusive of the South, witness the scandals rooted in the very inner sanctum of the Northern League involving Bossi, Il Trota, and other personages of the Lega. More extreme Northern groups avow that they would like to see a divided peninsula, a northern Padania and a southern who-knows-what, from which presumably they could draw cheap labor, sort of like Mexicans in the US or Turks in Germany, but without the language problem.

And speaking of language, Italian, the language of Dante and Petrarca, is being corrupted and bastardized by the controversy. The letter “k”, missing from the modern Italian alphabet, is increasingly being reintroduced to produce the sound we all know, heretofore produced by the letter “c” or the combination “ch”. In extreme manifestations even the letter “q” gets replaced by “k”, resulting in a written language that is, at first glance, unrecognizable by Italian speakers. The tendency to do this appears to be localized in the extreme North of the country, so that it seems another mechanism for diversity and separation. Amateur psychologists and linguists could go far speculating on this predilection for the letter “k”. Here we’ll just note that experts in these matters tell us that the letter “k” occurs in German 1.3% of the time, in English 0.7% of the time, in French 0.1%, in Spanish and in Italian 0%. The widespread use of “k” to replace the present instances of “c”, “ch” and “q” in Italian would result in a frequency of occurrence of the letter ”k” of approximately 2.2%, satisfyingly outdoing, at least linguistically, those lucky Germans, who are so much more “northern” than us Italians! (But not outdoing the Ku Klux Klan, who are at 30% in their name!)

Below is an example such k-pregnant prose, reproduced unedited from a website best left unidentified.