New Orleans, i siciliani cercano di preservare la loro lingua la loro cultura in via di estinzione

Erase a language, murder a culture; North shore Sicilians trying to preserve their endangered language

BY FAIMON A. ROBERTS III| FROBERTS@THEADVOCATE.COM

June 11, 2016; 10:41 p.m.

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FotoMaria Bertucci Compagno placed the seed-and-wine cookies on a platter in her kitchen in Mandeville, explaining how artifacts of her Sicilian heritage like this are never far away.

“If I don’t have cookies or meatballs or red sauce, I feel naked,” she said.

The platter prepared, the former restaurateur moved to the front door to greet Guiseppe Benito Ranzino, a sausage maker and fellow Sicilian immigrant. The two friends, both 80, talked of family, music, food and the land they both left in the middle of the last century, speaking mostly in fluent Sicilian.

But conversations like this are growing rarer. Sicilian is listed by UNESCO as a language that is “vulnerable” to going extinct worldwide.

Native speakers like Compagno watch it fade with each succeeding generation. Her grown children understand a fair bit. But her grandchildren know only a few words, some of them picked up on trips back to her native Ustica, a tiny island off Sicily’s northern coast.

But now, like many endangered languages, Sicilian has inspired something of a revival effort among descendants of Continue reading “New Orleans, i siciliani cercano di preservare la loro lingua la loro cultura in via di estinzione”