How big is this island?
Every day I meet people from all over the world (yes, even now that we’re living in Covid-19times). The question that people ask me more often is:
How comes you have your own language in Sardinia?
Yes, believe me, this question has been asked so many times that if they gave me 1 penny for each time I heard it… well, you know Bill Gates? He would be just a poor guy selling shoes if compared to me.
A complex island
The answer is yes, obviously. Sardinia has its own language, an history so complex and different from the Italian one, not to mention it is enormous. I mean it, it’s huge. When I think that the most famous nations-islands in the Mediterranian Sea, as Cyprus or Malta are respectively 9251 square km and 316 square km, I think it makes sense that we have a peculiar language in Sardinia (which is over 24 thousand square km). This idiom is called Sardo, or Sardinian.
I’m not going through with the history of Sardinia and its language. There’s so much literature about it that it would take my entire blog just to start the topic. Let’s summarise what Sardinian produced culturally in the last 100 years or so.
Let’s start with the star: Grazia Deledda. She was born in 1871, and in 1926 this amazing woman received a Nobel Prize for literature. If this information doesn’t shock you, think about the fact that at the time she was only the second woman ever winning the prize. Furthermore, she was the first Italian woman in history to receive it. Interesting, huh?
You can quickly check the incredible number of writers Sardinia produced over the centuries. They spoke about what being a shepherd means, or to serve in the countryside since you’re just a child. They also wrote about the First World War, and more recently, with Accabbadora by Michela Murgia, you can jump in the reality of Sardinia in the Fifties.
Furthermore, these fantastic writers wrote in Italian, considered for a long time a second language in Sardinia. When I was a child (not so long ago), it was easy to meet old people speaking broken Italian, but fluent when they had to talk in Sardinian. Even though Sardinian was considered illegal to be used in schools for a long time, it was still used in everyday life. Nowadays, Sardinian is coming back to life, thanks to the hard work of many historians, linguists, and intellectuals.
What it means to come from an island?
As everything else, being from a fantastic island as Sardinia brings positive and negative outcomes. One of the negative ones is to be isolated from everything and culturally marginalized. The percentage of Sardinian with a university instruction level is one of the lowest in Italy, and with the crisis, the situation would only get worse.
That said, I hope next time you’ll hear in Sardinia they have their own language you won’t ask the same, one- penny, question.