Published January 25, 2018
This video was recorded by David Paleino in Campobello di Mazara, Sicily, Italy, where Paola lives. Sicilian is spoken by as many as five million people, primarily in the Italian island of Sicily, as well as parts of mainland regions Calabria, Campania, and Apulia. It has been a literary language since at least the twelfth century CE, when the Sicilian King Frederick I, who would later become the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, began encouraging poetry in the language; an initiative that gave way to a cohort of early writers known as the ‘Sicilian School’. Sicilian literature fell into decline with the rise of Italian as a regional lingua franca, but remained prominent in its spoken form as a mother tongue, and persists today, despite significant challenges: the language remains unrecognized by the Italian government and is therefore absent from public education. Both David and Paola are volunteers at Cadèmia Siciliana, a nonprofit initiative to promote and preserve the language for future generations.