The use of the Roman dialect of Zerocalcare in the Netflix series Tear off along the edges not everyone liked it. But why is it a legitimate choice anyway? Here is a small linguistic comment.
Which, after everything the animated series is about Zerocalcare (Michele Rech) on Netflix, we must really focus on an ancillary issue such as theuse of Roman dialect it is sad in itself. But the writer is a linguist and two things about this matter he would like to tell you.
The cartoonist Zerocalcare doubles most of the characters in the animated series Rip along the edges, and he does so using an Italian with heavy Roman influences.
This did not please everyone and, at least according to the newspapers, various criticisms have flocked to the use of this Italian dialect.
Let's go briefly to see two things: what Romanesco is, that is, the Italian used by Zerocalcare, and why the use of this variety of language is a choice that you may like or not like, but still remain legitimate.
Read also: SUICIDE AND THE IMPOTENCE OF THOSE WHO REMAIN: THE ONLY STORY THAT RIPPING ALONG THE EDGES COULD TELLE
What is romanesco?
The language used by Zero is the so-called romanesquethe Italian from Rome, also called in a more or less joking way by linguists in the nineties “Italian de Rome". If you want to know more about the linguistic characteristics of Roman dialect, there is the excellent voice of Paolo D'Achille on 'Encyclopedia of Italian by Treccani.
The Italian of Rome is Italian, not a dialect. But it is also a variety of Italian different from the standard (the Italian of grammars), since it is very influenced by the dialect, which would actually be another language than Italian. In this sense, the Italian of Rome can be defined as one of many regional Italians that exist in our peninsula.
Then keep in mind that, within the same regional Italians, there can be more realizations. Some are closer to standard Italian, so they will be Italian with a bit of an accent. Others are closer to the dialect, therefore Italians with accent, syntax and vocabulary very similar to those of the dialect.
Here, the romanesco used by Zero in Tear off along the edges it's a regional Italian with strong dialectal influences.
Keep in mind that Roman dialect is one of the regional Italians with whom even those who do not live in Rome or Lazio most often come into contact. In fact, it is very present in the movies and in television, although usually with less strong dialectal influences than those of Zero.
To take a very recent example, films Freaks Out e They called him Jeeg Robot by Gabriele Mainetti both have the cast acting in an Italian in Rome.
Why use Roman dialect?
Due to the linguistic history of Italy, today it would be difficult to talk about Italian characters without touching theirs, even if only tangentially local linguistic identity. Because, whether we like it or not, we all tend to use, at least in speaking, an Italian with regional influences, because that's what we learn as children.
In Tear off along the edges, Zerocalcare tells a story that has two sides.
On the one hand, it is strongly staff, as she tells her very personal life experiences and is explicit in saying that the whole story passes through her very partial lenses. On the other, it tells the story of one generation whole that, throughout Italy, has found itself floundering to stay afloat, deprived of the perfect future that was promised to it.
In this context, the use of Roman dialect is part of the personal aspect of the series, and characterizes her in the same way as the paturnias and the peculiarities of the character of Zero. If Zerocalcare had wanted to keep the personal and partial aspect of the story, it would have been strange if he had spoken in standard Italian.
Of course, he could also have spoken in a less pronounced Roman dialect, but here too we have to realize one thing. In fact, the Roman dialect has class differences.
That of the upper middle classes is closer to the standard (but not too much!). That of the lower classes is closer to the dialect.
Probably, Zerocalcare, using a more pronounced Roman dialect, also wanted to make a political choice, emphasizing more the popular provenance of his characters.
It's kind of the same choice it was made with Gomorrah. In fact, in the less well-off suburbs of Naples no Italian is spoken, and not even a regional Italian, but Neapolitan. Bringing the communication of the characters closer to standard Italian would have deprived them of a fundamental component of their identity.
Romanesco as an intimate language in an interview with the author
In an interview with Fanpage, Zerocalcare himself states:
For me, paradoxically, Roman is the language of the comfort zone: I speak more Roman in interviews than with my mother, not because I have to flaunt it but because it is my identity issue, which makes me feel entrenched in my fort.
Yes, this thing of dividing the registers is always functional for me to tell the contrasts: a more abstract level, the one in which the broadest and most breathing speeches are made, as opposed to the intimate level, in which I like that language be more direct, more consistent with what we really use.
Some conclusive words
In short, the use of Roman dialect is one artistic choice, which you may like or not like, but which those who wrote, produced and dubbed the series had the right to do.
Certainly, it has the defect of making listening to the series difficult for those who do not have much experience with the Roman dialect. But that's also what the subtitles, which help overcome language barriers.
If you want, The Think Monkey has made a useful guide to the Romanesque expressions used in Tear off along the edges.