Friday, December 12, 2014

REGIA AERONAUTICA (Italian Air Force) in Italian East Africa in 1940

The "Regia Aeronautica" in Italian East Africa in June 1940

Map of 1940 Italian East Africa showing the asphalted roads created by the Italians since 1936

The area of Italian East Africa (officially called "Africa Orientale Italiana") was under its own united air command (commanded by General Pietro Pinna), which was however subdivided into three subordinate sectors which had a fair degree of tactical autonomy due to the relatively large territory involved. Total forces of the Italian Air Force (called "Regia Aeronautica") employed there amounted to nine bomber groups (1 SM79, 3 SM81, 5 Ca133) plus four independent bomber squadrons (Ca133), and four independent fighter squadrons (2 CR42, 2 CR32). The only significant air reinforcements reaching this theatre from Italy were 51 CR42 fighter planes transported there inside SM82’s.

In June 1940 the British had only two brigades of regular troops in Kenya, but by the end of July there were five brigades, and soon afterwards three squadrons of South Africans equipped with Hurricane fighters also arrived there, providing a big advantage over the Italian CR42’s. By the start of Lieutenant-General William Platt’s offensive out of the Sudan into Eritrea in January 1941, the British in that sector had been reinforced by the 4th and 5th Indian Divisions, and they also had Hurricanes supplementing their Gladiator biplane fighters (not to mention the advantage of a small packet of the Matilda tanks, impervious to any Italian guns in the theatre).

While the ground combat began in a somewhat dilatory manner, in sporadic fashion, and hardly at all until July, in the air both sides were active from the start, despite the relatively sparse resources available. On June 11th, the first day of the war, the Italians bombed Kassala in the Sudan, killing at least one civilian. The same day British Wellesley bombers struck the port of Massawa with great success, hitting a fuel dump and destroying 780 tons of aviation fuel. After this the Italians made efforts to better disperse their fuel dumps, but the British persisted in attacking them, albeit with less success. On June 12th British aircraft from Aden– three Blenheims– hit Eritrea’s other port, Assab, burning up some food supplies (macaroni and rice), of which the worst loss was 20,000 bottles of wine. That night the British returned to Assab, this time striking the airfield there and setting off a small cache of 3,000 rounds of machinegun ammo. On June 13th, at the other end of the theatre, the Italians exacted fitting retribution for the British success in striking the fuel dump at Massawa two days earlier. Three antique Ca-133 bombers attacked the airfield at Wajir in Kenya, setting ablaze 5,000 gallons of British aviation fuel. In the first week of the war the Italians also bombed Khartoum for the first time, causing more panic than damage, while in mid-month a formation of nine Wellesleys carried the war to Gondar in Ethiopia. Interception of the British bombers, especially the Blenheims, often proved difficult. These tended to operate in small groups, often no more than three at a time, and given the vast spaces comprising the theatre and the lack of any real early warning system, they were very successful at playing hit-and-run. Furthermore, I’ve read quotes by two different Italian fighter pilots in East Africa lamenting that their CR42 biplanes, the best available in the theatre, were too slow to catch the more modern British planes.

Nonetheless, the British were also employing older, obsolescent types such as the Wellesley, and unescorted raids against the Eritrean Red Sea ports often paid a price to the fighter defenses. The Italian pilots, many of whom had prior combat experience in Spain, also did fairly well in operations directly supporting the ground forces, one of their chief missions. Captain Mario Visentini, the top-scoring Italian ace in East Africa, was credited with 16 victories before his death in a flying accident caused by bad weather during the battle of Keren in February 1941 (Arena, “La Regia Aeronautica”). On one occasion Visentini’s commander had been forced down behind enemy lines, but Visentini landed his own CR42 alongside him, squeezed the officer into the fighter’s cockpit, and took off again, returning both men safely to their own base.

In August 1940 the British struck for the first time at Addis Ababa, which they had not even properly reconnoitered beforehand. Five Wellington bombers, staging from the British airfield on Perim Island, carried out the attack on the Ethiopian capital. One aircraft got separated and lost, but the other four managed to find their target, where they ran into surprisingly heavy antiaircraft fire which damaged all of them to some extent (and were also repeatedly attacked by a single persistent CR32 fighter), but claimed four SM79’s destroyed on the ground. All five planes managed to return to their base, the straggler after landing briefly at (by now theoretically neutral) Djibouti. This raid occurred on August 18th. I should also mention that the Italians made one attempt to interfere with the British evacuation of Berbera, also going on at this time, with an air attack, but did no damage.

There were however a couple of small coups for the Italian air units in October 1940. On the 16th, a single SM79 bomber and seven CR32 and CR42 biplane fighters carried out a well-planned and -executed raid on the airfield at Gedaref (Sudan), where the British had assembled a small force of eight Wellesleys and two Vincents for the express purpose of providing air support to the Ethiopian guerrillas. The lone SM79 dropped its bombs squarely in the middle of the parked RAF aircraft, which were then subjected to repeated strafing runs by the fighters. When they departed, without loss, the Italians left all ten enemy planes burnt-out wrecks. And three days later, four SM82 trimotors (lumbering aircraft, used mainly as transports, but with greater range and payload than any contemporary Axis design) took off from the airfield of Rhodes in the Dodecanese, refueling in Eritrea, and in a night attack bombed oil installations on Bahrein, and then at Dharan in neutral Saudi Arabia. Though the damage inflicted was slight, the 2,800-mile round trip raid was an impressive accomplishment technically speaking. Piloting the lead plane of the quartet was Ettore Muti, who would be named the new Secretary of the Fascist Party eleven days later– that notorious “man of action” who claimed he stopped reading the newspapers when he was 15 (ironic since most of the top Fascists– including Mussolini, Farinacci, Balbo, Grandi, etc– were or had been themselves journalists. The Fascists were generally a media-savvy bunch who had early discovered the power of the press). This raid comprised part of a small stirring of offensive action by the Italians in East Africa, as the next night four destroyers of the small Italian Red Sea squadron sortied in an attempt to intercept a British convoy, which proved unsuccessful.

Gallabat/Metemma in early November 1940

The Italians also had one more significant advantage, the presence of more than forty aircraft at Gondar, within easy flying range (about 100 miles distant). The British, on the other hand, had only ten Gloster Gladiator biplane fighters (1st South African Squadron and the British “K” flight), and a slightly greater number of widely assorted and almost all obsolete bombers (Wellesleys, Vincents, Hartbees), to support their attack.

The British launched their assault on November 6th, and at first it seemed to go smoothly. After a bombing attack and an impressive flourish of artillery fire (which caught some of the defenders by surprise), Gallabat was captured on the first rush, as the Indian Garwali battalion went in with bayonets, supported by the tanks firing point-blank at the defenses. The Italians fell back to Metemma, as planned, the only real resistance offered by some of the Italian machine gunners, who had to be silenced with hand grenades. A counterattack put in by two of the Italian colonial battalions with commendable speed and spirit was shot up and bloodied by the Garwalis, who also knew their business. But the British were not faring so well in the air. During the first attack, the combat patrol of “K” Flight’s three Gladiators were apparently caught watching the action on the ground, and jumped by some CR42’s. Two Gladiators were shot down, and the third shot up so badly it crash-landed, without Italian loss. At about 8:30 a.m. there was a dogfight between all six Gladiators of the South African squadron and eight CR42’s, which resulted in two more British fighters going down, again without loss to the Italians (one of the downed Gladiators was flown by the South African squadron commander, who bailed out, badly wounded, but later died of his wounds).

At about 2:30 in the afternoon ten Ca-133 bombers escorted by an even stronger force of CR42’s appeared on the scene. The British threw all five of their remaining fighters, South African and British, in against them, and claimed two CR42’s shot down (I haven’t seen any mention of this on the Italian side so I’m not sure if the claims were valid) for the loss of one of their own Gladiators. But they could not prevent the Italian bombers from shaking out into a line and delivering their attack on Gallabat. Hardest hit was the single British battalion (which Slim had not wanted included in his 10th Indian Brigade– he trusted his well-trained Indian infantry much more). Slim himself (in “Unofficial History”) said that he never in his long career recalled seeing more ghastly wounds– severed limbs, scattered body parts, gore aplenty, etc. This was only the first of repeated Italian bombing attacks, as the enemy now clearly controlled the sky over the battle. Perhaps the most telling blow was the bomb which completely destroyed the truck bringing up the spare parts for the tanks. The British Essex battalion panicked and fled, driving wildly towards the rear in their vehicles, when another bomb struck an ammunition dump, with spectacular effect. Yet another visit by the bombers the following morning, just after dawn, caused many casualties among the Garwalis. It was obvious now that Slim’s attack had gone all wrong. In a little over a day he had lost nine of his dozen tanks, six of his ten fighter planes (a British report would note that the Italian fighter pilots had handled their aircraft “with dash and enterprise”– Tremaine, “The Right Of The Line”), and suffered 167 casualties, including 42 killed.

A British bombing attack on November 20th, in Castagnola’s words, reduced Metemma to “a pile of rubble,” and left his own 27th Colonial Battalion “very badly knocked about” (”Haile Selassie’s War”). In two weeks the 4th Colonial Brigade was withdrawn again due to the losses it had suffered from the shelling and bombing. But despite the punishment they took, the Italians rightly regarded this little battle as their victory, and the British certainly considered it a defeat. General Slim was unceremoniously ushered out of the theatre, to enjoy success in the British invasion of Vichy French Syria, and then make his fame in Burma, Gallabat/Metemma a small and long-forgotten blemish on his World War II record.

Keren February-March 1941

The battle for Keren would last a full 57 days, and during that time both sides were progressively reinforced. For the first time in the East African campaign the British would come to establish during this prolonged battle something like control of the skies, although the Italian airmen exhausted their remaining resources trying desperately to contest this.

The Italians endured a near-constant shelling, to which was added, for more than half the battle, regular British air attacks. Eventually it came to be unnerving for the Italian forces subjected to this prolonged pounding, especially the Eritrean and Shoan native units, who were also bombarded with propaganda leaflets carrying the Emporer Haile Selassie’s own seal. By March about 600 askari, affected by all the above, had deserted to the enemy. The air war was now swinging definitely in favor of the British (despite occasional Italian successes like an air raid against the enemy field at Agordat which destroyed 13 RAF planes on the ground). Attrition was wearing away the Italian air units (I mentioned earlier that their top fighter ace in the theatre, Captain Visentini, was killed during the battle, trying to fly a mission despite bad weather on February 11th). By mid-March, when the next round of heavy fighting commenced, there were barely fifty operational aircraft left to the Italians, despite reinforcements flown in from Libya (the big SM82 transports managed during the East African campaign to deliver to the theatre 51 additional CR42 fighters, which could be carried inside the fuselage with their wings removed and stowed alongside).

The second round of heavy fighting at Keren began on March 15th, 1941, a day of threatening thunderstorms which were soon drowned out by the man-made thunder above and below. The sun was just rising as the British bombers went in– ancient Wellesleys and Hartbees still flying along the more modern Blenheims. Then came the expected massive artillery barrages. By now the Italian air force had been almost completely swept from the sky. Nasi and his encircled forces in southern Beghemder were Africa Orientale Italiana, or all that was left of it. They would continue to hold out for some time. There was even a tiny remnant of an Italian Air Force, though by October they were down to a total strength of two operational CR42’s. The last air mission of the Regia Aeronautica in East Africa was flown on October 24th, 1941. The Italian airmen had planned to go down fighting all along, husbanding their last two planes for a final attack on a South African airfield from which the enemy aviation had been harassing them. But before the mission could be launched, one of the CR42’s fell victim on the ground to an Allied air raid. Nonetheless, on the 24th 2nd-Lieutenant Ildebrando Malavolta took off in his lone CR42 and headed for his date with destiny. Not surprisingly, he never came back, but later that day an Allied plane flew over the Italian airfield and dropped a note. It read: “Respects to the pilot of the Fiat. He was a brave man. (signed) The South African Air Force” And, indeed, they did cling to Gondar, to the rocky hills and mountainsides of Kulkaber and Wolkefit, until the bitter end. Not until November 18th did the last of Nasi’s men lay down their arms, and only then after a last bitter battle.

The Italian presence in Ethiopia

Including disputed areas of Eritrea (and not counting the period of the actual conquest), in the five years of inclusion in Africa Orientale Italiana Ethiopia was home to a maximum of about 300,000 Italian residents, of whom more than a third were soldiers or colonial administrators (in 1940 there were some 91,000 Italian military personnel in East Africa). The biggest Italian population center was Eritrea’s new capital in the mountains, Asmara, which had been built by the Italians virtually from scratch in the ’30’s (it was very much an Italian city in appearance, and has been described as “charmingly laid-out”). There were just over 49,000 Italians living there in 1939, and over 38,000 in Addis Ababa. No other Ethiopian city contained much more than a few thousand Italian residents (Jimma approx. 5,200, Harar 4,200, Diredawa 3,500, Gondar 2,000 in 1939, not counting military stationed there). For those who came to make their fortunes as laborers and entrepreneurs in Italy’s “new frontier,” one of the most lucrative businesses was in trucking, and many self-employed small proprietors, who could afford the price of a vehicle, made surprisingly good money in the transport trade in the new colony.

The end of the Italian empire on the Amba Alagi last stand: the remaining Italians were granted the "honours of war". A guard of honour consisting of representative sub-units from all British units presented arms to them.

Many history books I’ve read in my lifetime -that briefly dismiss the campaign in East Africa as another “easy” British victory over the Italians- aren’t even close to getting it right. Yes, the main part of the Allied offensive was over in three or four months. Yes, large numbers of Italian prisoners were taken. And, admittedly, the portion of the campaign dealing with Cunningham’s attack on Somalia were pretty embarrassing from the Italian point of view. But my reason in elaborating the rest of the campaign in such detail is to demonstrate that the actions in this theatre, considered as a whole, were far from a walk-over, and for a long time the Italians in many parts of the vast expanse of East Africa gave the forces of the British Commonwealth all they could handle (and fought bravely to the end).

B. T.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

LISSA: the perfect ethnic cleansing of the local Italian community

In the Dalmatian islands, the disappearance after WWII of Italian Lagosta (now called Lastovo) was matched by the equally perfect ethnic cleansing made previously in Italian Lissa (now called Vis).

Both of these central-southern Dalmatian islands have the distinction of being the most away from the Croatian mainland, and because of this they are those who have preserved most the neo-latin people through the centuries.

In fact, in the Middle Ages before the year 1000 AD there were practically no Slavs in the outer strip of the Dalmatian islands, from Lissa and Lagosta up to Lussino (actual Lošinj). Only the slav pirates called "Narentanes" brought some Croatians -in relatively small amounts- in these Dalmatian islands, but only starting from just before the thirteenth century.

Lissa, however, was populated until the Renaissance times almost exclusively by autochthonous neo-latin Dalmatians, who ceased to speak their own native Dalmatian language only around the thirteenth/fourteenth century when the "Veneto da mar" was imposed on the island (favored by the immigration of families from Venice and the Veneto).

Still in the middle of the nineteenth century the Italians at Lissa were two thirds of the population of the island, but after the wars of Italian independence a shameful ethnic cleansing was started against them, subtly promoted by the Austrian Habsburgs and reinforced by the newborn Croatian nationalism. Here it is a summary (furthermore, please note that at the beginning of the nineteenth century -when the island was part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy- the autochthonous Italians were about 80% of the inhabitants of Lissa, but now there it is not even one in this island!)

In Lissa -an island of central Dalmatia- was done a perfect ethnic cleansing of the local Italian population, who was the autochthonous majority until the eighteenth century

LISSA and the ethnic cleansing of the autochthonous Italian population

The island of Lissa (now officially called "Vis") is the most distant from the mainland of the Dalmatian islands. This island has an area of 90.3 km² and had about 3700 inhabitants (all Croats) in 2007. The main locations of the island are the town of Lissa and the villages of Comisa, Manego Porto and Porto San Giorgio.

Along with the neighboring islands Busi (now called Biševo), Pomo and Sant'Andrea, Lissa form a small archipelago situated approximately 50 kms away from the Dalmatian coast, which for centuries was a stronghold of the Republic of Venice in the Adriatic. Having belonged for centuries to the Venetian Republic, Lissa was united politically to Italy on two other occasions: during the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy (1805-1810), and during the Second World War in the Governorate of Dalmatia (1941-1943). Moreover Lissa until the beginning of the twentieth century was the most Italian, in ethnic population, of the central Dalmatian islands.

Historically Lissa was a naval base of the Venetian Republic until 1797, when it passed to Austria. Between 1805 and 1810 it was part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, with Italian as the official language and the language of education/schools. Virtually everyone (even the Croat minority) in those years spoke the "Veneto da mar" (the local venetian dialect), as a first or second language.

It was later occupied by the British from 1811 to 1816 (who adopted as the languages of the island the Italian and the English) and then returned into the hands of the Austrians, as a district of the Captaincy of Lesina. In 1811 there occurred the first naval battle of Lissa (when vessels Italian-Venetian and French clashed with British ships for the control of the island).

In 1866 took place the historically famous "Battle of Lissa" (it is noteworthy that the Italians of the island- who were famous then as fishermen nicknamed "Venturini" and among the most skilled of Dalmatia with their boats known as "GA(L)ETA Falcata"- saluted with joy the Italian sailors who attempted to land on Lissa just before and during the battle): this naval battle signed adversely the fate of the Italian Dalmatians.

The Lissa population welcomed the Italian sailors in 1866, when they started to land in the island and brought food (as in the above image)

In fact, the Austrian policy in respect of Lissa was neutral at first, but -after the founding of the Kingdom of Italy and the italian independence war of 1866- took a sharp bend in favour of the slavs ( Luciano Monzali: Italians of Dalmatia).

As a consequence soon all that was Italian in the island was clearly opposed; in particular the Italian schools were closed, despite the petitions of local people brought even to the Emperor of Austria. Andrea Olmo has summarized all this in these sentences related to the whole of Dalmatia: "... Then began the closure of Italian schools and associations, gross manipulations of the censuses, massive immigration of Slavic populations in the cities and in the Italian islands, persecution of our fellow Italian citizens, often forced to emigrate forcefully, riots done by Croats and artfully concocted by the austrian police, with assaults and beatings of Italians, which caused dozens of deaths. And finally, a policy of slander and lies aimed at discrediting the mayors of the cities of Dalmatia, then still all ethnic Italian ... ". Http://

The French census of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy recorded that about 80% of the island population were Italians (but it was a general census, based mainly on the head of family breadwinner). The Austrian census of 1880 was more detailed and counted instead 3292 Italians in Lissa and 1197 in Comisa, out of a total of 7871 inhabitants of the island (meaning that about 64% were Italian-speaking). During the last decades of the nineteenth century the use of the Italian language declined rapidly: the Austrian census of 1900 found that 97.0% of the population used Serbo-Croatian language and only 2.4% the Italian language, with peaks of 3.9% in the municipality of Lissa and 4.6% if we consider only Lissa city (the different percentages reflect the fact that Italians were living mainly concentrated in the urban centers of the cities of Lissa and Comisa). A similar result was reached in 1910, when it turned out that the Italian language was spoken by just 2.5% of the inhabitants of the island.

It is astonishing the reduction of the Italian speaking population of Lissa in just 20 years: from 4489 persons (or 64% of the island total population) in 1880 to just 199 (or 2.4%) in 1900! That means a reduction of 94% in less than one generation.

After the Treaty of Rapallo, that showed the Italian preference for the island of Lagosta (because of its better strategic position) and assigned Lissa to Yugoslavia, a good portion of the local neo-latin population gradually migrated into Italian territory. Some chose, similarly to some of the Dalmatian italians of Curzola (now called Korcula), just the nearby Lagosta, which -despite being (ethnically speaking) one of the least Italian of the Dalmatian islands- came to have, especially starting from 1921 when returned officially to Italy, a considerable number of Italians inhabitants (about 40%).

Lissa, however, was part of Italy between 1941 and 1943, when it was part of the province of Spalato in the "Governorate of Dalmatia". Indeed some Dalmatian Italians returned home in those two years: in that dramatic period (April 1941-September 1943) in the Dalmatian cities and islands returned numerous Dalmatian exiles to carry out their duties of managers, clerks, judges, officers of the various military services, with the intention to contribute with their knowledge of local languages ​​and mentalities to the success of the Italian administration and its acceptance by the local Croatian and Serbian population (

In a nutshell: the Italians were two thirds of the inhabitants of Lissa in 1880 (or 64% of the total), but in 1900 -after only twenty years- they were reduced to just two percent! This was a massive ethnic cleansing, shamefully authorized by the Austrian Habsburgs in a subtle form ...... It is noteworthy to remember that in 1871 the Italians of Lissa sent a request (of course rejected) to the same emperor of Austria asking not to delete the Italian language bureaucratically and not to close their Italian schools in the island. In addition, between 1880 and 1900 the Italians officially disappeared in the population registers of the nearby Dalmatian islands of Ulbo, Mljet, Pasmano, Isto, Sestrugno, Zirona Grande and Bua (

With the passage of the island to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia after WWI, there was a further exodus of Italians and the few remaining were gathered around the figure of the noble Dott. Lorenzo Doimi-Delupis ( 189_206_J ...), whose father Peter was the last Italian mayor (called: podesta') of Lissa in 1870: in 1927, there were 177 Italians all over the island, down to only 50 in 1930.

It should be remembered that after the first world war at Versailles American President Wilson proposed the assignment of Lissa to Italy. At that time in the island there were still many Italians hopeful of "Irredentism's Redemption", hope evidenced by the tumultuous events of October 30, 1918 in Lissa and Comisa in which they showed their desire to be part of the Kingdom of Italy. In fact, among all the South-central Dalmatian islands, Lissa was the one with the largest community of Italian language between the Croatians. Moreover, even in the "Wilson line", based on the principles of ethnic majority and promoted by the President of the United States of America to the Versailles Peace Conference of 1919, the island of Lissa was included as the only one in Dalmatia that was supposed to go to the Kingdom of Italy.

But with the arrival of September 8, 1943 came the end for all Italians in Lissa. In Lissa settled the same Tito with his General Staff in 1944: at the beginning of June 1944, the headquarters of Tito - along with British and Soviet military missions - had moved from the Yugoslavia mountains to the Dalmatian island of Lissa, due to a violent military offensive of the Germans against the heart of the partisan forces (the so-called "Operation Rösselsprung", in which the same Tito was injured). The presence of the worst Tito fanatics in Lissa was the coup de grace for the few Italians in the island: in fact, during and after 1945 all the very few survivors of the Italian community exiled from Lissa. In 1946 in Lissa there was not a single Italian: a perfect ethnic cleansing!


History of the disappearance of Italians in Lissa, referring to their percentage of the total population of the island:

1) 1806: about 80%
2) 1880: 64%
3) 1900: almost 2%
4) 1930: 0.5%
5) 1946: 0%

That is, in 140 years in Lissa was implemented a complete and perfect ethnic cleansing: it was studied even by the infamous expert of "ethnic cleansing" of dictator Tito, Vaso Cubrilovic, when he lived in Lissa in 1944.( 2008/06 / ...).


After the Second World War the island was within Tito's communist Yugoslavia under the name "Vis" and since then suffered irreversibly a full croatization. The island was completely militarized until 1989, when it was reopened to tourism. Now it belongs to the Republic of Croatia.

It should also be remembered that in the island since 1944 there was a famous concentration camp of Tito. This camp became notorious for the massacre of Italian soldiers which occurred after September 8, 1943.

In fact, there were more than 50,000 of our countrymen deported to the concentration camps of the Tito's partisans in the former Yugoslavia. The survivors of the terrible Nazi extermination camps swear that those of dictator Tito were even worse. Only in 1943-44 on the island of Lissa were shot and then thrown into the sea 1800 soldiers of our army, Costantino Di Sante writes in his "In the fields of Titus. Soldiers, prisoners and Italian prisoners of war in Yugoslavia (1941-1945) "; Editorial Shadows Court; Verona, 2007.

According to Di Sante the massacres of Italian civilians and military prisoners in the concentration camps of Yugoslavia are a piece of history to tell and reveal in order to shed light on one of the most tragically forgotten consequences of the Second World War. Besides, this historian writes that:

".........In the concentration camps of the Tito's partisans the treatment of imprisoned Italian - counted in more than 50,000 - were the numerous internment camps -names like Lissa and Biševo make disgusting sounds in the ears of those who remember - people were being treated like animals...... Indeed those of our countrymen who had had the experience of the Nazi camps admitted that those of Tito (there were 65 registered) were even worse than Auschwitz and Mauthausen. In addition, the anti-Italian sentiment of Tito's soldiers also struck those of our countrymen who, after the armistice of '43, had passed since then to the side of the partisans. As an example, Zappulla Sebastiano was in Ragusa (modern Dubrovnik) with the division Messina: after September 8, he was interned by the Germans in Sarajevo; escaped, he joined the anti-Nazi partisans. Was injured in battle and later was admitted to Lissa: "The partisans were trying to ignore the fact that I and my comrades had fought for the same cause and we were also injured. They called us fascists just because we were Italians. We were working like dogs, they did not respect our bad conditions of health" Zappulla declared in an interview to Di Sante..........."

Furthermore, it is noteworthy to pinpoint that from the island of Lissa the Military Staff of the Italian Navy on 8 January 1945 sent to the Foreign Ministry in Rome a dramatic report: "From 10 November 1943 to 20 December 1944, I calculated that have been shot about 1,800 Italian soldiers, throwing the bodies into the sea. The mass executions take place at Biševo.....". Because 850 german prisoners of war (POW) were killed by the Tito partizans in this little island and their bodies were trowed into the sea in the same months, there it is the possibility that the military staff included those killings in the 1800 reported. However all these POWs massacres shows the brutality of the Tito troops, who did not respect any rule of military law with prisoners.

Post Scriptum: If interested in August 2023 I will post the continuation of this article

Sunday, August 24, 2014

MISSIONE CERRUTI: La tentata colonia italiana nella Nuova Guinea

Scritto di Giacomo Gorrini, pubblicato nel 1896: Nuova Guinea (Battana, Key, Arru) e missione Cerruti (1869-70).

Giovanni Emilio Cerruti, che fin dal 1861 aveva fatto lunghi viaggi e soggiorni all'estero, sopratutto in Australia ed Oceania, si assunse, nell'agosto 1869, di trovare e acquistare entro quattro mesi, per conto del regio Governo, una località situata in vicinanza della Nuova Guinea, adatta quale colonia, e destinata precipuamente all'impianto di uno stabilimento italiano di deportazione.
Mappa delle Molucche con un cerchio rosso segnalando: Battana = Bacan; Key = Kai; Arru' = Aru

Essa doveva avere la capacità di ricevere e sostentare una popolazione di almeno ventimila abitanti, possedere clima salubre, abbondanza di acqua potabile, e almeno un porto accessibile a legni della massima portata. Il Cerruti aveva facoltà di prendere possesso del territorio appena ottenutane la cessione dai capi indigeni, e quando gli fosse constato che con tale acquisto non si ledevano i diritti di altre potenze. Infine, la cessione doveva conseguirsi in guisa da implicare l'abbandono della sovranità in favore dell'Italia. In corrispettivo, al Cerruti si assegnò una somma di centomila lire, salvo la resa dei conti, e senza l'obbligo di fornirgli alcuna eccedenza di spesa. Al Cerruti fu dato per compagno il capitano Di Lenna, al quale era specialmente commesso l'incarico degli studi topografici. Il Governo dispose altresì perchè la nave "Principessa Clotilde", ch'era di stazione nei mari della China e del Giappone, avesse possibilmente a trovarsi nei paraggi ove si sarebbero recati il Cerruti e il Di Lenna, nell'epoca stessa delle loro esplorazioni.

Il Cerruti, avendo seco il capitano Di Lenna ed un suo fratello, mosse il 13 novembre 1869 da Singapore sopra uno schooner inglese, l'Monandra, appositamente noleggiato, e fece rotta verso l'arcipelago indo-malesiano. Accertatosi a Makassar che il sultano del gruppo delle Batiane continuava ad essere pienamente indipendente dalla signoria olandese, si recò senza indugio sui luoghi, ed indusse, senza troppa fatica, il sultano a firmare a Battana, il 20 dicembre 1869, una convenzione, in virtù della quale ogni diritto di sovranità sopra il gruppo delle Batiane fu ceduto al Cerruti stesso, senz'altra riserva, all'infuori del rispetto alle proprietà private del sultano e degl'indigeni. Il corrispettivo di tale cessione consisteva in una pensione mensile di 2000 gilders olandesi di argento. La convenzione conteneva inoltre alcune disposizioni speciali, come sarebbe quella per cui il sultano doveva essere difeso contro ogni molestia o sopruso che gli venisse dall'estero o da privati, quella per cui il sultano stesso doveva essere consultato per ogni affare concernente gl'interessi dei nativi, quella infine per cui in ogni villaggio l'amministrazione dei nativi veniva affidata ad un indigeno. Infine il Cerruti promise di adoperarsi affinchè un regio legno venisse a prèndere possesso delle isole entro quattro mesi, e perchè entro dodici mesi fosse eseguita una prima spedizione di duemila condannati per l'inau- gurazione della colonia di pena. Da Battana, dopo breve sosta ad Amboina, il Cerruti si recò alle isole Key, e, dopo aver visitato quel gruppo, negoziò e firmò con un rayah di quelle isole una convenzione in data 16 gennaio 1870, la quale non si scosta dalla convenzione stipulata col sultano di Batianà se non in questo, che la pensione mensile è fissata nella somma assai più tenue, di 100 gilders olandesi d'argento. Infine, il Cerruti si volse all'arcipelago delle Arrù, e colà stipulò il 23 gennaio 1870 con due dei più influenti rayah, quello di Wogier e quello di Saunna, una convenzione, simile nella forma alle precedenti, la quale se ne scosta in quanto che la cessione è gratuita, nè vi si contiene promessa alcuna di accelerarne più o meno la esecuzione. Il Cerruti visitò ancora alcuni altri punti sulla costa della Nuova Guinea, corse grave pericolo in una località situata nel seno di Mac-Euer (assassinata bay), ove dovette difendersi dagl'indigeni, e, non avendo avuto notizia mai della Principessa Clotilde, per non perdere tempo, pose fine alla propria missione, e per la via di Makassar si restituì in Italia a rendervi conto del proprio operato e ad affrettarvi la decisione della occupazione (10 aprile 1870).

Ma gli eventi furono contrari. Caduto il ministero Menabrea, che al Cerruti aveva dato formale incarico, il nuovo che gli era successo, volendo procedere con ogni cautela, fece riprendere in esame le proposte e i contratti stretti dal Cerruti. Si mandarono poco dopo, come si dirà appresso, ispezioni sopra luogo: in massima, il giudizio fu contrario, sia per non sollevare temute difficoltà internazionali, sia perchè le località furono ritenute non idonee alla deportazione e non suscettibili di proficua colonizzazione: il sopravvenire poi delle gravissime complicazioni politiche e della guerra franco-germanica e dell'acquisto di Roma capitale d'Italia, fece convergere altrove l'attenzione del Governo.

Inoltre nel 1871 fu creata la "Commissione per le Colonie". Infatti il governo italiano considerava che trovare e istituire una colonia italiana per stabilirvi la deportazione dei carcerati italiani, sembrava, tutto considerato, la soluzione più breve e meno dispendiosa. Si voleva, perciò, un territorio lontano, isolato, possibilmente un'isola o un arcipelago, sotto la sovranità italiana, per estendervi le nostre leggi, con confini naturali e sicuri, con clima sopportabile, territorio che fosse eminentemente suscettibile di allevamento del bestiame e di coltivazione per i prodotti necessari alla sussistenza degli abitanti. Tale stato di cose impressionò la Commissione, la quale il 18 maggio 1871 votò la seguente deliberazione: "La Commissione non crede che nelle condizioni attuali d'Italia e del commercio generale sia di convenienza la fondazione di colonie sotto piena sovranità nazionale a scopo direttamente commerciale, ma che giovi fondarla a scopo di deportazione dove concorrano circostanze favorevoli alla produzione e al sorgere di utili rapporti commerciali con la madre patria". Entrando così nel campo della scelta di una località adatta per stabilirvi una colonia, che fosse atta insieme a commercio ed a deportazione, la Commissione si trovò di fronte a due fatti compiuti: l'occupazione già avvenuta di Assab, e i territori acquistati dal Cerruti per conto del Governo italiano nella Nuova Guinea.

La Commissione, lasciando impregiudicata e facendo voti che si chiarisse la questione di carattere internazionale, pure ammettendo che il conservare Assab, dopo nuovi studi, osservazioni e rilievi da farsi sul luogo, potesse essere utile sotto forma di scalo marittimo, escluse che Assab, per l'aridità del clima e per la ristrettezza dello spazio, potesse essere località adatta sia per fondarvi uno stabilimento penitenziario, sia per istituirvi una colonia di sperato sviluppo commerciale.

Quanto ai territori della Nuova Guinea, proposti e comperati dal Cerruti, tenuto conto della distanza grandissima, della grande inslubrità del clima, e delle inevitabili difficoltà e conflitti che si prevedevano con l'Olanda, la Commissione diede pure parere sfavorevole, e consigliò il Governo di non convalidare i proposti acquisti.

Il Cerruti, non scoraggiato, con fede di apostolo, lottò vigorosamente per anni ed anni, e tenne sempre viva la propaganda a favore dei territori della Nuova Guinea, pubblicando opuscoli, e sollevando polemiche infinite. Egli non cessava dal propugnare i vantaggi d'ogni genere che si sarebbero avuti con l'occupazione di que' punti della Nuova Guinea, e si sobbarcò ai calcoli più minuti, sostenendo la deportazione, e mostrando che, mentre un detenuto costava nel regno dugento cinquanta lire annue, fondando la colonia, e comprendendovi il trasporto de' detenuti e la sussistenza della truppa, ma deducendo il lavoro utile de' deportati, la spesa si sarebbe ridotta a lire centosessanta per ognuno. Come si avvertirà a suo luogo, ancora davanti la Commissione d'inchiesta per la marina mercantile (1881-1883) perorò il Cerruti la causa delle colonie da fondarsi dall'Italia nella Nuova Guinea e nella Polinesia. Ma tutto fu vano: egli non riuscì a convincere i suoi molti oppositori, che gli rimproveravano sopratutto l'avventatezza di giudizi e il non tenere alcun conto delle inevitabili difficoltà d'ordine internazionale.

E della Nuova Guinea si cessò di parlare per parte nostra. Ed era tardi ormai, in verità, in quanto altri paesi, e sovratutto Germania, Inghilterra ed Olanda, stavano disputandosela fra loro. G. Gorrini
Per chi vuole approfondire l'informazione

Aggiungo per concludere che un interessante scritto (intitolato "La Nuova Guinea e la questione delle colonie" del prof. Brunialti e pubblicato -in quegli anni contemporanei al Cerruti- su "L'esploratore: giornale di viaggi e geografia commerciale") appare nel websito

Infine, per avere dettagliate informazioni sui primi tentativi coloniali italiani, consiglio di leggere:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


EVOLUTION AND INFLUENCE OF THE SPANISH LANGUAGE IN US ENGLISH (by Mary Rubin D'Ambrosio of Union I. & University in Cincinnati/USA)


The research is about the evolution of the Spanish language, in Europe and North America, and the related influence on the English of the United States. The purpose of the research is to show that the interaction between different people and their languages creates the enrichment of our language, with consequent benefits.

So, in order to facilitate the integration between the American English-speaking community and the growing Spanish-speaking minority in the United States, this research wants to explain how and why a foreign language like Spanish is constructive for the American-English language development.

The research even wants to create awareness that the Spanish Language is influencing positively our American society. The research aims to give a reaffirming confirmation that a language (like the U.S. .English) is a living organism receiving “loanwords” (from Spanish, for example) to enhance continuously itself. Indeed, the American society can be reassured that the “melting pot” which has created the unique characteristics of our Nation is working effectively even in function of the foreign languages (like Spanish).

This is why the research asserts that the necessity of better understanding the usefulness of Foreign Languages in our American Society and School System. After a brief study of the evolution of the Spanish Language from the Latin, the research explains in detail how and why the Spanish language has influenced the American English development. Furthermore, the research emphasizes the importance of the Spanish in the differentiation process of our language from the English language since Columbus and the colonial times.

The content of the research can be summarized briefly in this outline: First, a brief review of the Spanish Language development in Medieval Spain. Second, a study of the Spanish Language in colonial America. Then, the core of the research: the “loanwords” from Spanish in the American English. Finally, how and why the Spanish Language is constructive for the development of the US English and its differentiation from the British English.

Some experts agree that a successful language like our needs continuously new words (called “loanwords”) to adapt to a changing society, its time and its challenges. The more words from other languages are assimilated, the more expressive and useful our English can become (Duran, 1981).

This is precisely what has characterized the growing success of the American English worldwide: with Spanish “loanwords”, for example, our language can be more easily accepted and understood in Latin America, as well as in the Iberian Peninsula and the Philippines (Crystal, 1990).

Another feature related to the usefulness of the influence of the Spanish language in our language is the intrinsic facilitation of the integration process for the millions of Latino immigrants living in the United States. The more English speaking Americans accept to use some Spanish in conversations, the friendlier they will be to deal with the Latino minority and the consequent problems.

We have to avoid the possible creation in our country of a “language barrier” like those that existed in Europe last century, which were partially responsible for the nationalistic and xenophobic first and second world wars. Our famous “melting pot” of people and their languages is the best antidote to this dangerous problem (Ferguson & Shirley, 1982).

This is exactly why the Spanish influence in the US English (with more than ten thousand “loanwords”) is a very positive and useful contribution to our society.

Scholars pinpoint that the English language is “a Germanic skeleton with Latin flesh”, because the English lexicon is mainly Latin after many centuries of assimilation from Rome and from neo-Latin countries, like France and Italy (Marckwardt, 1980). So, the acceptance of the influence in our American English, of another neo-Latin language, Spanish, can only bring us a better future.

Indeed, strange mixed creations like the “Spanglish” or “Chicano” dialect can (at least in theory) aggravate the xenophobia of some Americans, like the influential White Anglo Saxon Protestants (WASP) who are against those not accepting the “English only” politics (Hendrickson, 1986): the natural evolution of a language and the slow - century after century - assimilation of “loanwords” from other languages must be accepted and helped, but strange “mixtures” should be rejected (as History in Europe teaches us).

First Section: The Evolution of the Spanish Language

The evolution of the Spanish Language from the Fall of the Roman Empire

From the linguistic point of view the Spanish Language was created from the Latin after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D. In the middle of the Iberian Peninsula (called “Hispania” in Latin) there is a region named “Castilla”, or land of the Castles, where the Roman Legions had their main “castra” (or castle in Latin).
From there in the Middle Ages the Reconquista (or “reconquest” from the Arabs) spread the Castellano language to all of Spain. In the Renaissance years of Cervantes, Calderon de la Barca and Lope de Vega the Castellano became the official language of the Kingdom of Spain. That is why the Castellano language is synonymous of Spanish language (Duran, 1981).

The full romanization of the Iberian peninsula in the fifth century was clearly seen in the widespread use of the Latin in all the “Hispania” society, not only in the upper class as in Roman Britain. This is the main reason why in the middle ages a neo-Latin language developed in Spain, while in Britain the use of the Latin disappeared (even if many words remained in the new Anglo-Saxon language of the British isles).

Indeed, some lexicology researchers (Patterson and Urrutibeheity) pinpoint that 81 % of the Spanish language originated directly from the Latin, with another 11 % indirectly through other neo-Latin languages (French, Italian and Portuguese). Arabic contributed more than 4000 terms to Spanish. Some of them have passed to our English (like “alcohol”, “algebra”, “lemon”) trough a process called “loanwording” (or to borrow words from a dominant language to another).
There is even a small amount of German words (nearly one thousand) in the Spanish language, as a consequence of the few centuries of Visigoth rule of Spain. Finally, some dozen words in Spanish are originated from the old Greek and the Celtic.

The Linguist experts agree that Spanish is fully a neo-Latin language in phonology, morphology and syntax (Fernandez Flores, 1965).
As a final point, in the lexical analysis of Spanish, the 8 % of terms not originated from the Latin are borrowed from other languages in different periods of time in the last two thousand years.

Spanish Lexicon

The historical periods that saw the most rapid enlargement in the Spanish lexicon correspond to times in which Spain was experiencing important cultural development.
According to Patterson and Urrutibeheity, the lexicon of the Spanish language is made of words 24 % “inherited” from the Vulgar Latin, 35 % “created” by different kinds of affixation, compounding and agglutination, and finally 45 % “borrowed” (or “loanworded”) from other languages.

They even emphasize that borrowings were especially numerous during the fifteenth century (35 %), and the thirteenth (21 %), sixteenth (12 %) and seventeenth centuries(11 %). Thus, the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which correspond to the Renaissance and the transitional period immediately preceding it, contributed the majority (58%) of the loanwords.
This explains the strong influence of the Italian Renaissance language in Spanish artistic and literary words (Achard & Kemmer, 2004).
Indeed, a smaller percentage (21 %) were borrowed in the thirteenth century during the time of Alfonso el Sabio, a period of intense literary and intellectual activity in the Spain of the “Reconquista” against the Arabs.

It was also during these same eras that the Spanish lexicon was increased by the largest number of “created” words: in the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries an astonishing 48% of the total. The remarkable similarity of the figures for both borrowing and creating of Spanish words is an example of cultural expansion resulting in lexical growth (Patterson & Urrutibeheity, 1975).

During the Renaissance years there were the first interactions between the Spanish and the English languages, but were confined practically to a few literary and artistic words, often related to the Italian language (like “piano”). The strengths of the Spanish lexicon lie in its expressive power, richness of color and easy of understanding. Like English, and unlike French, Spanish possesses a great wealth of synonyms which provide means for subtlety and variety of expression.

Often in the Spanish vocabulary coexist two terms with the same referent, one from Latin and another borrowed from another language (even neo-Latin), offering different shades of meaning and greater or lesser degrees of formality.
This characteristic is similar in the English vocabulary, where practically every word can be expressed with two terms, one from German and another from Latin (e.g.: heaven and paradise, big and great, wealth and affluence, travel and voyage, etc.).
Other lexicon nuances are derived from the flexibility in altering Spanish words through affixation, functional shift and compounding, processes which often serve to express attitudinal factors (Duran, 1981).

In Spanish, as in German, words formed by composition are usually transparent in their meaning since the semantic values of their constituent parts are well known, thus facilitating the understanding of complex neologisms. English, in contrast, is more opaque in its non-Germanic words because they have been borrowed as wholes and the meanings of their components have become obscure.(Crystal, 1990).
As a result of composition and inflection, Spanish words tend to be longer than their English equivalent and thus, as any translator knows, a page in English is likely to be four-fifths of a page in its Spanish version (Shores, 1972).
Thus, an English person when writing a sentence or paragraph is very brief and precise, but a Spanish person will use plenty of redundancy and long phrases. For example, in an English article we can read “…...this is an easy - going behavior…..”, but in the language of Cervantes a Spanish writer will never translate the term “easy-going” in “…facil - andante….” (he will instead use a long group of words, like “……muy facil y con bastante movimiento…..”).

Finally, some linguists indicate that this Spanish redundancy creates problems when dealing with mathematical, scientific and technical phrases, while the synthesis capacity of the English is considered by them as one of the main reasons of the worldwide growth of the Shakespeare language in the current “high-tech” century (Duran, 1981).

The evolution of the Spanish Language after the Discovery of America

After Columbus in 1492 discovered America for the Kings of Spain, the Spanish language was brought to the new discovered continent. Spain colonized most of the land between the actual British Columbia in Canada and the tip of South America in Chile and Argentina. The “Conquistadores” defeated big local empires (Inca, Maya, Aztec) and imposed their Spanish language to the indigenous Indian population (Washburn, 1975).
The same was done by the British in North America, even if in smaller scale initially, because the French and the Portuguese in the century after the Columbus Discovery were more organized and powerful in their colonial expansion. Only at the end of the eighteenth century the English started to dominate North America (Fernandez Flores, 1965).

Indeed, since the end of the fifteenth century, some languages from Western Europe were present in the New World. The English, French, Dutch, and Portuguese languages started to expand –together with the Spanish – inside America from the coastal areas.
With the first European colonists came the new linguistic development of their languages. A mother country in all likelihood had several dialects, but speakers of these dialects in the new country erased differences which hinder easy understanding, in a process called “linguistic levelling” (Finegan, 1980).
The result was often similar to the “standard” dialect of the time in the homeland, or in the most important areas from where came the initial colonization. But there were differences in the process, mainly in the Spanish empire.

New World Spanish: Castilian or Andalusian

In the case of Spain, historians agree that in the sixteenth century the dialect from Castilla was the dominant in Spanish America, but after the seventeenth century the dominance passed to the Andalusian dialect of southern Spain (Menendez, 2003).
This has created the celebrated “Great Polemic” among Hispanic linguists as to the origins of the Latin American Spanish: is it a Castilian or an Andalusian dialect? The resolution of this question has been vastly complicated by the fact that either conclusion can be objectively supported by data available to modern linguists.

Scholars who believe that the Spanish of the New World has developed from the Andalusian emphasize the phonological resemblance between many varieties of the Latin American speech and that of southern Spain (like the “seseo” or special pronunciation of the “s”).
They even cite the historical evidence that the poor south of Spain (Andalusia and Murcia) gave 49 % of the male emigration to colonial Latin America, and 68 % of the female. Indeed the relatively rich regions of north and central Spain sent only most of the upper class members of the burocracy to rule the American colonies.
These convincing arguments are rebutted on equally good grounds by linguists who believe that the Latin American varieties of Spanish are of multiple rather than singular origin: They note that by the time of the conquest of Mexico and Peru, the Castilian had become officially recognized as the prestige dialect of Spain.

They pinpoint that it was impossible for a form of speech like the Andalusian, viewed as regional rather than national, to have become dominant in all the Spanish colonies (Fernandez Flores, 1965)
While the “anti-Andalucistas” admit that many varieties of Latin American Spanish are similar to the Andalusian dialect in pronunciation, they empathize that the phonology of the Mexican and Andean highlands shows great similarity to that of the Castilian.

Accordingly, for this group of linguists there are two major categories of Latin American dialects:
1) those resembling Castilian and centered in the highlands of Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
2) those similar to the Andalusian, and spoken by the populations living in the remaining coastal areas of the Spanish colonies (from the Caribbean to Argentina and Chile).

This distribution of the New World Spanish into “highland” and “lowland” varieties is attributed by these linguists mainly to the following historical reasons:

1) when the Spaniards first undertook the conquest of America, they were attracted to lands such as Mexico and Peru that had riches and civilized (hence exploitable) populations to offer.
2) while in Europe, as a result of the Mediterranean trade, the great civilizations were coastal, in America the most advanced cultures (Aztec, Maya, Inca) had developed on the cool plateaus of the interior. Here it was that the sixteenth century “Conquistadores” (mainly from Castilla and surrounding areas) established the Spanish rule, and with it, their “lengua nacional”, the Castilian.
3) Hence the Castilian, as the official dialect of the government, was the language of the two great centers of the Hispanic colonial power, Mexico and Peru.
4) Toward the end of the sixteenth century, this situation was to change as domination over the American colonies began to pass into the hands of the Andalusians, when the Spanish Kings granted to the “Casa de Contratacion” in Seville (Andalusia) the privilege of administering the trade with the New World. 5) Under these circumstances, the Caribbean, daily visited by galleons from southern ports, soon became an Andalusian “lake”. South American coastal and lowland areas, hithero nelected by explorers and colonists, underwent vigorous development by the “Casa de Contratacion” throughout the seventeenth century.
6) In these areas, economically and culturally dominated by the Andalusians, the Andalusian dialect was implanted and prospered (Jones, 1979).

Historians believe that nearly one million Spaniards moved to the Spanish American Colonies between the Columbus Discovery and the nineteenth century, mainly as farmers (developing the typical “Hacienda/Rancho” Latin American economy) and approximately 65 % of them were from Andalusia and the surrounding poor southern regions of Spain (Extremadura and Murcia).

That is the main reason of the huge spread of the Andalusian dialect in the Spanish New World, which changed - in the distant areas of Argentina - even some basic Spanish grammar rules (e.g., the Spanish “tu” (you) is said “vos”, like in Latin).

To tell the truth, in contemporary Florida it is possible to perceive the difficulty of Latin American immigrants in understanding well each other, when an immigrant from Mexico (with Castilian dialect) talks to an immigrant from Cuba or Puerto Rico (with Andalusian dialect).

Transplanted Language Traits

Since the end of the fifteenth century, several European languages have been “transplanted” to overseas colonies in America, where they either supplanted the languages of the native population or have continued to coexist with them until the present.
These transplanted languages shared a number of traits similar in their evolution, like the cited leveling process. English spoken in colonial North America, for example, was similar to that of London, and the English colonists from the Yorkshire quickly stopped to use their own northern dialect in the New World (Finegan, 1980).

The same happened in the Spanish colonies. In fact, Spanish speakers of the sixteenth century Latin America were not an homogeneus group but represented many social classes and many geographical areas in a mixture similar to that of Spain. Thus the prestige dialect continued to exercise the same pressure abroad as at home, while differences due to influence of local dialects such as Leonese or Aragonese tended to be quickly eliminated.

In the seventeenth century, when the Andalusians became dominant in the New World, leveling continued, but on the basis of southern Spanish (the Andalusian dialect) rather than Castillian, producing a second manner of speaking.

Another trait shared by transplanted languages is their proclivity to retain traditional forms abandoned in their land of origin (Finegan, 1980). In American English, for example, pronunciations such as “heist” (hoist) and “pizen” (poison), once acceptable in English, are widespread in rustic usage. Similar to these are “chaw” (chew), “critter” (creature), and “tetched” (touched).
Morphological maintenance can be seen in “holp” (help) and “hit” (it). Similarly, Latin American Spanish exhibits some archaic features (Duran, 1981).

Phonologically, it has been seen to resemble sixteenth and seventeenth century usage more closely than it does that of contemporary Spain.

Morphologically, the single most important archaism, used instead of “tu” (you) mainly in Argentina, is “vos”, the intermediate level of formality in the Renaissance. In Argentina and Uruguay, alongside “vos” are its accompanying verb forms such as “tenes, decis, sos” and the imperatives “anda’, pone’, veni’”, used instead of “tienes, dices, eres” and “ve, pon, ven”.

Another trait is the common use in popular speech all around Latin America of an “s” added to the second person singular of the preterite: “vistes” (viste), “dijistes” (dijiste), “hicistes” (hiciste).
Lexically, the New World Spanish has an abundance of terms and meanings from earlier centuries, no longer used in contemporary Spain with their original senses. Some are “lindo” (bonito), “liviano” (lijero) and “fierro” (hierro).

A peculiar trait of transplanted languages is their adaptation to the new environments.

Colonists find themselves confronted with the need to talk about new fauna and flora, new artifacts, and new social and economic situations (Finegan, 1980).

Perhaps the most usual solution to this problem is the adoption of the concept together with its name in its culture of origin. For example, English settlers in North America were thus enabled to speak of strange animals such as “raccoons”, weapons such as “tomahawks” and shoes such as “moccasins” (Hendrickson, 1986).

Likewise, Latin American Spanish has borrowed from many indigenous languages words for plants and animals such as “maiz”, “patata” and “opossum”, and even words like “cacique” (Indian chief).

A final trait that Spanish shares with other colonial languages is the inevitable change due to isolation from the original source (Washburn, 1975).

An analogy can be drawn from the break-up of the Latin into a number of Romance dialects after the unifying force of the Roman Empire had disappeared. Every language is subject to drift, and when a group of speakers is cut off from a linguistic mainland, this tendency is increased. For example, a Briton can immediately identify a speaker of English from the United States by his accent, and so can do a Spaniard with a Mexican (Reed, 1977).

Lexicon also develops in new directions according to local cultural demands. So, a Briton had little need to refer to raccoons and to a Spaniard the size of a horse is irrelevant, but to an Argentine gaucho depending upon his horse for his livelihood and social prestige, the characteristics of his mount are extremely important. That is why in Argentine Spanish more than 500 terms have developed to describe the horse in the minutest detail.

Furthering the differentiation in lexicon was the slow pace of communication between Europe and its colonies before the twentieth century. The time to travel across the Atlantic between Europe and North America was nearly two months in the sixteenth century, one month during Napoleon times, ten days at the beginning of the twentieth century and only a few hours in our jet era. There is some evidence that modern technology may not only arrest but perhaps even reverse this type of linguistic diversification, based on time and distance.

The Spanish of Southwestern United States

From the Columbus times to the nineteenth century the Spanish was the official language of most of the actual South and West of the United States.

The Empire of Spain in North America stretched from British Columbia in Canada to the Mississippi river and Florida. In 1763 Spain received the Louisiana Territory from France, but after a few years Spain gave Florida to the USA.

As a consequence Florida, where the Spaniards built in 1565 the first town of North America, St. Augustine, was totally assimilated in the English speaking mainstream and the Andalusian dialect spoken there was completely lost during the nineteenth century (Jones, 1979).

On the other side of the Mississipi the Castilian dialect of the “highlands” of Mexico has survived –for historical reasons- and is spoken continuously to our days in the Mexico bordering areas of the Soutwestern USA (Ferguson & Shirley, 1982).

The Spanish speaking population north of the Rio Grande is made mostly of mestizo descendants from the Spanish colonial times. That is the main reason of the huge amount of Amerindian words in their Castilian dialect (Washburn, 1975).
It has been calculated that only thirty thousand Spaniards emigrated from Spain to settle in California, and the areas north of the Rio Grande, during the centuries of the Spanish Empire.

They were able to create a political entity that survived only under the leadership of Spain and later of Mexico, but that was unable to remain independent from the pressure of the growing English speaking United States (Fernandez Flores, 1965). Spanish has been spoken in the region which is now the southwestern United States since the sixteenth century.

The first Spaniards here were Cabeza de Vaca and his men in 1536, who explored the area to find the famous “El Dorado”. There were no permanent settlers, however, until 1598 when Juan de Onate conquered the territory of actual Texas and claimed it for Spain. Santa Fe (New Mexico) was founded twelve years later and in 1630 had a population of 250 Spaniards, 50 mestizos and 700 indians.

Texas was organized as a Spanish political entity only in 1718 and California in 1767. In 1845 Texas was admitted to the United States, provoking Mexico and leading to the Mexican American war. This conflict ended with the annexation to the USA in 1948 of the entire Southwest north of the Rio Grande.
American settlers, welcome for the most part, flocked by the thousands to the newly won lands, that quickly were Americanized in culture and language. Improved economic opportunities in the Southwest drew immigrants from Mexico in the following years, and with the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) more immigrants arrived, refugees from the ranks of armies defeated in recent battles (Stavans, 2003).

Most of these Mexican immigrants were poor and uneducated mestizo farmers from ranches and small towns of northern Mexico. A smaller group, however, consisted of highly educated professionals such as physicians, lawyers and journalists who escaped from political persecution (Fernandez Flores, 1965).

Many of the larger and less privileged group, hoping for better economic opportunities, assimilated the English culture and language, losing their Spanish by the third generation. But most of the second group, more educated, maintained at home their Spanish culture and language to our days, speaking English only at work (Menendez, 2003).

The quality of the Spanish used by Mexican Americans has varied considerably during the twentieth century. Many immigrants were naturally Spanish-dominant, but the speech of their following generations has become increasingly anglicized before WWII.

This trend was reinforced by laws in several states forbidding the use of anything but English in the American Public Schools, but after 1950 the subordinate status of Spanish in the Southwest started to change (Finegan, 1980).

In the 1950s the “Chicano” movement started to demand equal status for Spanish speaking minorities in the USA. The young Mexican people of this organization were aware of their social and political situation and of their potential for power. With this perception of their identity came a rebirth of pride in the Spanish language, more interest in Standard Spanish and its use as a medium for writing, both literary and political, in support of the Mexican people in the Southwest (Varo, 1971).

As a result, the quality of Mexican American Spanish is today considerably higher than it was at its low ebb in the 1940s.

The kind of Spanish spoken in the Southwest is in general homogeneous and like rustic Spanish elsewhere in Latin America. As all the Castilian speaking areas of “highland” Spanish, it is characterized by “seseo” (use of the “s”) and “yeismo” (use of “y” instead of the Spanish “ll”).

Also general is the use of methatesis (or change of letters in a word): for example “probe” for “pobre” (poor) or “suidad” for “ciudad” (city). Particular to New Mexico is the methatesis “pader” for pared (wall).

Finally, there is even a small difference in pronunciation in the Spanish of Colorado (fully “loanworded” with English words) from the one in the bordering Mexico areas.

Second Section: The influence of the Spanish language in the US English


The influence of the Spanish language in the U.S. English is based on the historical fact that there has been a continuous interaction between the two languages in North America since the Columbus times. This influence is so pervasive that even States like Colorado (“Coloured”) and Metropolis like Los Angeles (“The Angels”) have Spanish names.

Indeed, two little areas of the American Southwest never stopped to have Spanish speaking communities. In north New Mexico and south Colorado there is a mountainous area where is spoken (by more than 200000 people) an archaic and rustic Castilian dialect more similar to the Spanish of Guatemala than to the one of Mexico. And in the delta of the Mississippi a dialect originated in the Canary islands is still spoken by more than 5000 people (St. Bernard county, Louisiana).

Even in our Florida some historians (Mormino & Pozzetta, 1987) pinpoint that in the Tampa area there has been a Spanish speaking community which has survived the retreat of the Spanish Empire from Florida after 1819. Ybor City, the city near Tampa founded in 1885 by Cubans in order to develop the “Cigar” industry in the USA, was initially populated with one thousand descendants of the Spanish mestizo fishermen living in the area when the USA bought Florida.

Small numbers of Spanish speaking fishermen, farmers and miners (similarly surviving the “Anglicization” of the nineteenth century United States) are reported by scholars to be present continually in that century in the bordering States of California (S. Diego), Arizona (S.Ignacio de Tubac) and Texas (El Paso, S.Antonio). But they did not form communities, until the arrival of the first Mexican immigrants during the late 1800s.
It is interesting an historical report done by the “Arizona Town Hall Research Committee” in 2002 about the relations between the Anglo and the Spanish speaking population of Arizona after the American takeover of 1848:

“…..Few of the newcomers to Arizona before 1880 were Anglos…in Tucson, where by 1860 Anglos numbered 168 in a town population of 925, interethnic marriages and relations with the original Hispanic population grew….the small Anglo population did not threaten Mexicans’ traditional way of life….what most bound both groups together was the Apache……nowhere in the Southwest Anglos and Mexicans got along as well as in southern Arizona before 1880…but the advent of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1880 signaled the end of an era in Arizona in many ways. Its impact on the Tucson based Mexican elite was disastrous…….and in the early 1890s a growing tide of anti-Mexican sentiment was sparked by an economic depression between the rising Anglo population…”.

This report is very indicative of the situation of the Hispanics in the nineteenth century American Southwest (Jones, 1979).

Anyway, even if most of the Spanish speaking population in the Southwest and Southeast have been fully assimilated in the last two centuries by the English speaking United States, they and their descendants have exercised a profound influence on the culture that has enveloped them (Fernandez Flores, 1965).
Undeniably the commerce, industry, agriculture, trades, architecture, customs and even laws in the States bordering Mexico have continued to show the imprint of the Hispanic civilization long after their political integration into the Union (Menendez, 2003). Even the typical gastronomy of the Southwest is crammed with Mexican Spanish influences, like the poetry and the music.

This influence has been growing after WWII with the influx of millions of Mexican and Latin American immigrants in our country, and it has partially reversed the process of full “anglicization” of the nineteenth century (Finegan, 1980).
Indeed, according to the last Census of 2004, there are 40 million Latino American residents in the United States, surpassing for the first time in history the Blacks as the first American minority. Mexicans are 67% of them (Puerto Ricans 9 % and Cubans 4 %).
The highest proportion of the State total population that is Hispanic is in New Mexico (43 %), followed by California (36 %) and Texas (35 %).

New Mexico is the only State of the Union that is officially bilingual English–Spanish. More than one third of New Mexicans claim Hispanic origins, the vast majority of whom descends from the original Spanish colonists in the northern portion of the State. Most of the considerable less numerous Mexican immigration resides in the southern part of New Mexico.

At least 35 % of New Mexicans are also fluent with a unique dialect of Spanish, the “New Mexican Spanish”, full of vocabulary often unknown to other Spanish speakers. This dialect, because of the historical isolation of the area, preserves some late medieval Castilian vocabulary considered archaic elsewhere, adopts many Indian words for local features and is full of English words for modern concepts (Washburn, 1975).

Actually the United States is considered to have the fourth largest Spanish population in the world, after Mexico, Colombia and Spain (Menendez, 2003). Finally, according to statistical projections, 25 % of the US population in the year 2050 will be Spanish speaking, with probable political and socioeconomic consequences.

Spanish Loanwords

The huge amount of Spanish loanwords in our American English is the biggest evidence of the influence of the Spanish language in our country.
Some scholars believe that there are ten thousand Spanish loanwords in our US English, and their number is increasing with the millions of Latino Americans entering - legally or illegally - to live in the USA (Newman, 1974). These loanwords are most evident in southern and western toponimy: Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Los Angeles, El Paso, Rio Grande, Rio Amarillo are some of the many Spanish names we consider “All-American”.

But we have Spanish loanwords even in the terminology relating to the cattle industry, mining and farming, like “rancho” (ranch), and in the designations of American flora and fauna or of southwestern gastronomy.
English has gone through many historical periods in which large numbers of words from a particular language were borrowed. These periods coincide with times of major cultural contact between English speakers and those speaking other languages.

For example, the French language influenced profoundly the English after the Norman conquest of England by the French speaking William the Conqueror: even the English word “renaissance” is loan worded from the French of those years (Marckwardt, 1980).

Indeed, it is part of the cultural history of English speakers that they have adopted loanwords from the languages of whatever cultures they have come in contact with. There have been few periods when borrowings became unfashionable, and there has never been a national academy in Britain or in the USA to attempt to restrict new foreign loanwords, as there has been in many European countries (Germany, Italy, France, etc..)

U.S. English words borrowed (“loanworded”) from the Spanish language

The following are the most important words of Spanish origin present in our American language, with a simple explanation of their meaning and/or derivation:
Adios (good bye)
Adobe (brick)
Aficionado (fan)
Albino (albino)
Alcove (from Spanish “alcoba”, originally from the Arab word “al-qubba”)
Alligator (from Spanish “el lagarto”)
Amarillo (yellow)
Armadillo (from Spanish meaning little “armadura”)
Anchovy (from Spanish “anchoa”)
Armada (fleet)
Arroyo (creek)
Avocado (Spanish word originally from the Aztec “ahuacatl”)
Banana (banana)
Barracuda (barracuda)
Barbecue (Spanish word originally from the Caribbean “barbacoa”)
Bizarre (Spanish word originally from the Italian “bizzarro”)
Booby (from Spanish “bobo”)
Bronco (wild)
Burro (donkey)
Cafeteria (cafeteria)
Canary (from Spanish “canario”)
Canasta (basket)
Cannibal (Spanish word originally from the Caribbean “canibal”)
Canoe (from Spanish “canoa”)
Canyon (from Spanish “canon”)
Cargo (from Spanish “cargar”)
Chihuahua (dog breed named after Mexican city and State)
Chocolate (Spanish world originally fron the Aztec “xocolatl”)
Cigar,Cigarette (from Spanish “cigarro”)
Cocaine (Spanish word originally from the Inca “koka”)
Coco (Spanish word originally from the Caribbean “Ikakuo”)
Comrade (from Spanish “camarada”)
Conquistador (conqueror)
Coyote (Spanish word from the Aztec “coyotl”)
Creole (from Spanish “criollo”) Dago (offensive term from the Spanish name “Diego”)
Desperado (desperado)
Dorado (golden)
Embargo (embargo)
Fiesta (fiesta)
Filibuster (from Spanish “filibustero”)
Guerrilla (guerrilla)
Guitar (guitar)
Hammock (from Spanish “jamaca”)
Hacienda (hacienda)
Hurricane (Spanish word originally from the Caribbean “huracan”)
Jaguar (jaguar, originally from the Maya)
Key (from Spanish word “cayo”)
Llama (llama, originally from the Inca)
Macho (male)
Machete (machete)
Margarita (margarita)
Marihuana (from Spanish “marijuana”)
Mesa (altiplane)
Mestize (from Spanish “mestizo”, mixed race white-indian)
Mosquito (mosquito)
Mulatto (Spanish word “mulato”, originally from Italian “mulatto”)
Negro (black)
Patio (courtyard)
Picaresque (from Spanish “picaresco”)
Plaintain (from Spanish “platano”)
Plaza (square)
Potato (from Spanish “patata”, originally from Inca “papa”)
Pronto (immediately)
Ranch (from Spanish “rancho”)
Renegade (from Spanish “renegade”)
Rodeo (rodeo)
Salsa (salsa)
Savanna (from Spanish “savana”)
Savvy (from Spanish “sabio”)
Siesta (nap)
Sombrero (hat)
Stampede (from Spanish “estampida”)
Tobacco (from Spanish “tabaco”, originally from the Maya)
Tomato (tomato, originally from the Aztec “tomatl”)
Tornado (tornado)
Tuna (from Spanish “atun”)
Vanilla (from Spanish “vainilla”)
Vigilante (vigilante)

Geographical and place names in U.S. English can mainly be found in the Southwest and in Florida. About a fifth of those in California are somehow connected wit Saints’ names (San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, etc.) and with Angels (Los Angeles).
There are even many cases in which the original Spanish names have been translated - either partially or totally - into English, like “Rio de los Reyes” into Kings River or Playa Hermosa into Hermosa Beach (Reed, 1977).

Furthermore, the following State names are clearly from Spanish: Arizona, California, Texas, Colorado, Florida and Nevada. Some experts believe that even Montana, Georgia, Virginia and Carolina are Spanish (Menendez, 2003). The Bahamas name comes from the Spanish “Baja mar” (shallow sea), because these islands were part of Florida until the eighteenth century.

Finally, some big American rivers (like Rio Grande, Rio Colorado, etc.) and even mountainous areas (like the many “Mesa”) have Spanish names. South of the continental United States there is the island of Puerto Rico, that since 1898 was entered into the English speaking world and that until our days has stubbornly refused to become a US State (Navarro, 1966).
Puerto Ricans speak an Andalusian Spanish heavily influenced by US loanwords, and they consider themselves only Spanish speaking (even if the majority of them are bilingual Spanish-English). Besides, the 2 millions of Puerto Ricans living in our country (mainly in the New York area) have given some famous Spanish words to our music (like “salsa”).

As a final point, something similar is happening with the millions of Mexicans living in our country. Many of them speak a variety of Spanish that is heavily influenced by the English. So, in the last decades in California has sprouted the so called “Chicano” or “Tex-Mex” dialect (a hybrid Spanish-English, or “Spanglish”, characterized by Spanish morphology and syntax with English-derived vocabulary full of loanwords).
Some linguists even believe that the “Spanglish” can be considered as a growing new language, and this is creating huge problems with the Americans defending the English-only policy toward immigrants (Stavans, 2003).

The influence of the Spanish in the US English: BENEFITS

The benefits of the Spanish influence in our language are mainly two:

1) A growing and healthy language needs continuous new words to adapt to the changing history and to the socioeconomic challenges. For example, some philologists find that the societes without technological terms usually remain stacked at primitive agricultural levels. Indeed, the benefits of Spanish loanwords, received from the rancho/hacienda society of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, have proved to be helpful to the development of the English speaking society in the young United States colonizing the “Far West”.

2) The millions of Spanish speaking immigrants constitute a serious problem of integration for our Nation. Many political organizations in our country complain about this “invasion” and promote the forced assimilation of these immigrants trough the English-only policy in every area of the American society. This is creating divergences with the political organizations defending the right of the immigrants to maintain their languages, using the bilingualism in our society. In my opinion the solution to this integration problem can be centered on an English language that can be fully loanworded with Spanish words and easily understandable by the growing Hispanic community.

This is the main benefit the Spanish language can give to the USA: a “pacification” of the integration problem between the “Anglo” and the “Latino” communities. Actually some famous scholars even predict that after 2050 nearly 2/3 (or 66 %) of the American English words will possibly came from the Latin, mainly through the Spanish Language (Trifone, 2003).
This is going to be an astonishing fact, with deep repercussions in our society when considered together with the possibility of a Catholic and “Latino” majority in the future US population (Newman, 1974).

It is believed that the Catholic and “Latino” will only be the biggest groups (but not the majority) in the USA , so it is imperative for our society to be prepared to this likelihood, in order to reduce the foreseeable problems.
That is why must be supported the acceptance of an American English language that can be fully influenced by Spanish “loanwords”. In the long run it will prove to be a mitigatory factor that will facilitate the integration between the “Anglo” and the “Latino” parts of the US society (Achard & Kemmer, 2004).

Indeed, the “Spanglish” mixture (of English and Spanish) can only exacerbate the zealots of “English only” political positions. Even the bilingual solution (waiting for the minority assimilation) has proved to be a temporary solution in Europe.
Experts agree that the third generation of immigrants usually forgets the original language of their grandparents, as has happened with the immigrants from Europe, Asia and Africa (Ferguson & Shirley, 1982).

But in the case of the “Latino” immigrants, who are mostly from Mexico, this is not going to happen for many reasons (mainly cultural, historical, geographical and social), due to proximity of the Rio Grande frontier (Finegan, 1980). However, they can identify themselves in an American English gradually differentiated from the original British English and full of Spanish “loanwords”. In the long run they can substitute their original Spanish/Mexican for this “familiar” American English, helping in this way their integration process in the American “melting pot”.

This is the percentage of Hispanics in some States of the Union, according to the 2004 and 2000 census:

State ...................2004........ 2000.......... Status of Spanish

New Mexico....... 46.9 %..... 42.1 %........ Officially Bilingual
California............ 36.3 %..... 32.4 %........ Bilingualism proposed
Texas.................. 35.9 %..... 32.0 %........ Bilingualism proposed
Arizona............... 29.8 %..... 25.3 %........ Bilingualism proposed
Nevada............... 23.4 %..... 19.7 %
Colorado............. 18.9 %..... 17.1 %
Florida................ 18.8 %..... 16.8 %
New York........... 16.8 %..... 15.1 %
New Jersey........ 14.9 %..... 13.3 %
Illinois................. 13.7 %..... 12.3 %
Utah.................... 10.6 %...... 9.6 %
Connecticut........ 10.5 %...... 9.4 %

We have to consider that there are more than seven millions of Latino Americans living in our country illegally, so these percentages should be increased accordingly. Consequently, the Hispanic population is booming in the United States and nothing seems to indicate a reduction of this demographic process. Only the use of radical solutions, as some political extremists promote, can reverse this process. Other political representatives, more moderate, want more emphasis on the English-only policy, at least in the public schools of the States with more Hispanic presence (Hornby, 1977).

The zealots of the influential WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) pinpoint that the linguistic assimilation process that has happened with other communities (like German, Italian or Russian, where in two/three generations the “Anglicization” of the American melting pot has worked perfectly), in the case of the Latino Americans is not successful. The reasons, mainly for the Mexicans: the proximity to their motherland Mexico and the historical remembrance of the centuries of the Spanish Empire in the American “Far West” (Jones, 1979).

Furthermore, these critics of the Hispanic “invasion” always remember what has happened between France and Germany (and other European countries) when a big linguistic minority lives in a bordering region belonging to a country speaking a different language. World War I (and WWII) started in Alsace, a French region with a huge German speaking community bordering Germany. These zealots fear that the Rio Grande can have a history of war similar to the Rhine (Newman, 1974). Of course, this scenario cannot ever happen, because the American and European mentalities are different. Anyway, the melting pot can happen even linguistically with the “Latinization” of the actual American English full of Hispanic loanwords.

In order to sustain this hope there it is a very interesting research made in 2003 by the Italian Professor of Lexicology M. Trifone, Director of the Linguistic Center at the Siena University.
He studied how many times the English words “heaven” and “paradise” appeared in the “New York Times” newspaper of the year 1902 and 2002. Both words have the same meaning, but the first comes from the German and the second from the Latin (through the Italian Language). He discovered that in 1902 “heaven” was used 70 % of the times and “paradise” only 30 %, but in 2002 the German “heaven” was used only 36 % and the Latin “paradise” an astonishing 64 % of the times. He then researched many other words (like “hell” and “inferno”, “end” and “finish”, “big” and great”, etc.) and found the same similar results. In one century there had been a complete reversal, showing the increasing influence of “loanwords” from the Latin in the American English.

Trifone explained this fact with the massive immigration in our country from Italy in the first decades of the 1900s, and with the recent arrival in the USA of millions of Latino Americans (in the example, the Spanish “paraiso” is similar to the Italian “paradiso”). He emphasized that these two big communities with their neo-Latin languages influenced and are influencing the “Latinization” of the American English in the last century.

This and other remarkable researches explain why professor Trifone, considered the main Italian Scholar in Linguistic, believes that in the second half of our century the American English may have 2/3 of its words originated from the Latin Language. As a result, he even believes that only the grammar and syntax (fully German) will disallow the classification of the American English as a neo-Latin language, similar to the French Language (which has nearly 3/4 of its words from Latin).

In conclusion, if our American English will experience a “Latinization” so huge, thanks mainly to the influence of the Spanish spoken by millions of Latino Americans, our language will be easily understandable by them. This will facilitate their integration in our linguistic melting pot as has happened with other big communities (like Germans or Italians), and so the Hispanics will reject hybrid solutions like the Spanglish or the Chicano dialect.

This fact in turn will reduce (and may be even finish) the tensions between the “Anglo” and the “Latino” in our country (Stavans, 2003) . Too good to be true? “Ai posteri l’ardua sentenza” (the future will tell), as the Italian poet Dante said.
Anyway, the main benefit our language (and society) is receiving from the Spanish language is the facilitation of the integration process of the growing “Latino” and the shrinking “Anglo” communities in the USA, thanks to the acceptance of an American English fully loaded with Spanish loanwords.

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Arizona Town Hall Research (2002). Historical report. Retrieved November 12, 2005, from
Crystal, D. (1990). The English Language. London: Penguin Books
Duran, R. (1981). Latino language and communicative behavior. Norwood, N. J.: Ablex
Ferguson, C. & Shirley, B. (1982). Language in the USA. New York: Cambridge U.P.
Fernandez Flores, D. (1965). The Spanish heritage in the United States. Madrid: Publicaciones Espanolas.
Finegan, E. (1980). Attitudes toward English Usage: the history of a war of words. New York: Teachers College Press.
Hendrickson, R. (1986). American Talk: the Words and Ways of American Dialects. New York: Viking
Hornby, P. (1977). Bilingualism: psychological, social and educational implications. New York: Academic Press.
Jones. O. L. (1979). Los Paisanos: Spanish settler on the northern frontier of New Spain. Norman, OK: Oklahoma University Press.
Marckwardt, A. (1980). American English. New York: Oxford U.P.
Menendez, G. F. M. (2003). El Desplazamiento Linguistico del Espanol por el Ingles. Madrid: Ediciones Catedra S.A.
Mormino,G. & Pozzetta, G. (1987). The Immigrant World of Ybor City. Urbana. IL: University of Illinois Press.
Navarro, T. (1966). El Espanol en Puerto Rico. Rio Piedras, PR: Nueva Editorial Universitaria.
Newman, E. (1974). Strictly Speaking: Will America be the Death of English? New York: Bobbs-Merrill.
Patterson, W. & Urrutibeheity, H. (1975). The Lexical Structure of Spanish. The Hague: Mouton Publishers.
Reed, C. (1977). Dialects of American English. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusett Press.
Shores, D. (1972). Contemporary English: Change and Variation. Philadelphia: J.P. Lippincott Publishers.
Stavans, Ilan. (2003). Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
Trifone, M. (2003). Tecniche Lessicografiche : Aspetti della Lessicologia Italiana ed Inglese. Siena: Betti Editrice
Varo, C. (1971). Consideraciones antropologicas y politicas en torno a la ensenanza de “Spanglish” en New York. Rio Piedras, PR: Ediciones Libreria Internacional.
Washburn, W. E. (1975). The Indian in America. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

ISTRIA 1809: the Slavs threw the first stone of the ethnic conflict

Slavs were the first to start the ethnic & national conflict in the eastern Adriatic.

One of the least known issues in the conflict in Istria and Dalmatia between Italians and Slavs turns out to be who or what started it. In fact, until the late eighteenth century in the Republic of Venice peoples of the lands of Istria and Dalmatia lived in harmony under the Venetian Republic. To the point that the "Schiavoni" (as were nicknamed the Slavs in Venice) were among the major supporters and defenders of the Venetian Republic when was attacked and submitted in 1797. Suffice it to recall what happened in that year in the Bay of Kotor(Bocche di Cattaro), where the banner of Venice was buried among the cries of neo-Latin and Slavic people who shared the common pain of defeat.

Istria for centuries had been divided between "Venetian Istria" (the area west and south of the peninsula) and "Austrian Istria" (the area north-east): in the Venetian Istria in the late eighteenth century the neo-Latin element was completely dominant, while in the Austrian Istria the Slavs had settled numerous (with even some Istrorumanians) making a reduced minority with a strong presence of neo-Latins.

We all know that the French Revolution brought many ideals, one of which was the concept of nation that is also based on a common language. We note then that Napoleon's troops in the eastern Adriatic shook the secular status quo of the peaceful Istrian - Dalmatian society and consequently in the nineteenth century there was the rise of Italian and Slovenian-Croatian nationalisms, which harbored - among other things - even the two bloody world wars of the twentieth century.

Today the ultranationalist Slavs defend themselves against accusations of having exterminated south of Trieste almost completely the Italians, claiming that this was done as a reaction to the attacks of the fascists in their "Fascist Era" (called "Ventennio" in Italian) and at the beginning of World War II. While the Italians accuse Austria of being the root-cause of violence by the fascists because of having favored the Slavs in Venezia Giulia and Dalmatia until the First World War, to the detriment of Italian community with numerous abuses (and deaths) since the times of the Italian independence wars.

But who or what started all this? That is, who were those who threw the "first stone" ?

The answer lies in the creation of the "Illyrian Provinces " by Napoleon. In fact, after having joined Istria and Dalmatia to the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy in 1805, Napoleon decided to create this new balkan state after a few years (with capital Ljubljana) and to annex to it these two regions that had been part of the Venetian Republic for centuries.

But for Istria there was the opposition of the people (almost all Italian at that time), supported by the Viceroy of the Kingdom of Italy Eugene de Beauharnais, who wrote directly to Napoleon to get -or better, to keep- the union of Istria (already Venetian for centuries) to his Kingdom of Italy. Unfortunately arrived from Paris only the permission to join to the Kingdom of Italy just the forests and salt marshes of Istria (which were about 20% of the territory of Istria) ..... and in this way for the first time in many centuries Istria was detached from Italy. The inhabitants of Pola, Rovigno and Capodistria protested, but there was nothing to do.

It should be noted, moreover, that Beauharnais in his letter to Napoleon wrote that "Your majesty (i.e.: Napoleon ) already had included Dalmatia between the Illyrian Provinces but Istria, always Venetian, it was excepted to remain Italian" (http://www / fil ... ). So we have a clear-cut change in the thinking of Napoleon in his decision about Istria!

(Map of the Kingdom of Italy in 1808, when included Istria, Dalmatia and the former Republic of Ragusa until Cattaro in the Montenegro coast)

What or who changed the decision of Napoleon about Istria? Officially it was -among other things- the need to determine as the eastern border of the Kingdom of Italy the river Isonzo, but in reality this was due to the influence of the Enlightenment group of the Slovenian "Circle of Zois " who had a lot of weight in Paris (then capital of the Enlightenment).

The so-called "Circle of Zois" was the most important center of Illuminism in Ljubljana and was founded by Sigmund Zois. This Zois (whose father was a Lombard from Valtellina) was an important patron in the arts and sciences, by funding numerous publications and scientific projects. But above all he is remembered for having contributed to the codification of the Slovenian language (until then considered only a Slavic dialect) and done by Zois and members of his circle (who became even promoters of the first newspaper in Slovenian language: the "Lublanske novize" - "News of Ljubljana").

To this circle belonged among others, the linguist Jernej Kopitar, the historic and dramatic writer Anton Tomaž Linhart, the poet Valentin Vodnik and even the French Charles Nodier (related to the famous Joseph Fouche, one of the leaders of napoleonic Freemasonry). And in these Masonic connections of the Circle Zois is to be seen the "key" that explains the main sudden change of Napoleon, who - as is clear from the letter of Beauharnais - initially wanted to keep united the former Venetian Istria to the Kingdom of Italy.

In January 1810 was so secret (or "Masonic") this change, that is remembered by historians like Bernardo Benussi that " Marshal Marmont requested confirmation to Caulk (head of the Provisional Government of Istria ) about the desire of Napoleon to detach from the Kingdom of Italy the region of Istria, making it a part of the Illyrian Provinces. The Caulk asks for confirmation to the government of Milan, which was blinded about the imperial will and falls from the clouds."

In short, this "sudden and unexpected" change appears to be the first demonstration of a Slavic methodology -repeated and expanded in the following decades- to seize , with stratagems and often fakes well set up, and annex all that was Italian in Istria and Dalmatia (from literature and history, to the Marco Polo nationality..... until ownership of the properties of the Italian exiles after 1945 (the reader should study this interesting article written in English by Dino Veggian about these appropriations: ... ) .

The removal of Istria from Italy was perceived as an offensive strike by the Italians in the region: it was the first time that there was a rift in the ex-venetian Istria between the majority of Istrian Italians and the slavic minority (then very small). Unfortunately, this fracture - as we know - became more and more huge in the following decades degenerating into open conflict, until the terrible conclusion in the famous "Istrian exodus" of the Italians.

From all this clearly we note, in simple words, that the Slavs were the ones that started the ethno-national conflict in the eastern Adriatic. The Slavs of the Zois Circle threw "the first stone", when they obtained to annex "suddenly" the former Venetian Istria to their Illyrian Provinces against the will of almost all stakeholders (from the viceroy Eugene de Beauharnais to the vast majority of the local population who was Italian) !

It should also be remembered that in 1806 the whole territory was divided into two districts, Capodistria and Rovigno, and in 7 cantons: Capodistria, Pirano, Buie, Parenzo, Rovigno, Labino and Vodnjan . In turn, the cantons were divided in 22 municipalities of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd class according to the number of inhabitants. Capodistria presided over the first 4 cantons for a total of 60,641 inhabitants and Rovigno, who was then the most populous city in Istria, for the last 3, for a total of 28,615 inhabitants. The total population of the former Venetian Istria in 1807, therefore, did not exceed the 90,000 inhabitants, of which about 70,000 Italians according to the "Adviser to the Kingdom of Italy " Bargnani: that shows that are clearly false the allegations -almost all made at the time of the dictator Tito- of a community where the Slavs reached in those years about 50% of the total population of the former Venetian Istria! In reality the Slavs who lived there were just 25% of the total inhabitants in those years, according to a contemporary person who was serious and honest .....

It should also be pointed out that at the time of the Napoleonic Istria, Istria was divided into the ex-Venetian Istria (from Capodistria to Pola, where the vast majority was of Italian ethnicity) and the former Austrian-Istria (the area of Pisino, with a reduced Slav and istrorumenian majority) and was plagued by the phenomenon of banditry in the countryside.

One of the few bright spots of the French occupation, in fact, was that their efficient war machine dealt a severe blow to this ancient scourge of Istria. It was particularly harsh the repression of brigandage in Ciceria (implemented in 1810 by the " Battalion Royal d'Istria ", made mainly of Italians from ex-Venetian Istria), where it was applied the principle of "collective responsibility", meaning that villages in the surroundings where operated the robbers had to respond in a severe way or through the delivery of hostages or through a ransom if the culprits had not paid the innocents.

So because the majority of these brigands were Slavs, since that moment the brigantage repression started a clash between citizens of the villages & cities (Italians and pro-French) on one side and farmers (Slavic and pro- Austrian ) on the other side: this was a typical feature of Istria at the time of nationalism during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.