If your ancestors are from the Val di Non as are the Genetti family, your family’s native tongue is a dialect called “Nones”. An ancient Rhaeto-Romance language, Nones is now considered an endangered language with only about 40,000 people in the Non Valley of Trentino who can still speak the dialect.
Today I stumbled upon a surprising YouTube link by the Endangered Language Alliance. It was a five part video series of three members of the Flaim family telling of their life as Tyrolean immigrants in New York City. I recognized the family surname right away, as we have several Flaim women who married into the Genetti family and are listed on our family tree. Also the Flaim family originated in the village of Revo located near Castelfondo in the Val di Non. As it happens, one of my great-grandmothers was Catterina Lucia Fellin (married to Giovanni Battista Marchetti). Catterina’s family was also from Revo.
So I was absolutely delighted to view these video clips. Giovanna Flaim speaks of her family in her native dialect, although I’m certain that Italian was also mixed in with the conversation. The old photos used to illustrate the videos are marvelous. It was well worth an hour of time listening to their words, beautifully melodic and foreign, awakening my ear to the language of my great-grandparents.
To view all of the Flaim family clips on YouTube, click here!
You also may be interested in a short webpage by Carol E. Genetti, a Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Dean of the Graduate Division at UC Santa Barara (and yes Carol is a descendant of the Genetti family who originally immigrated to Wyoming from Castelfondo). To read more of Carol Genetti’s experience with the Nones dialect, click here.
And finally, you can view an interesting section on the website maintained by “Filo: A Quarterly Magazine for Tyrolean Americans” describing the Nones dialect, written by Lou Brunelli, Editor of this enterprising publication. Lou grew up hearing dialect spoken in his home. He includes several word lists of dialect along with their Italian and English translations, plus a history of the Nones language. For this link at Filo, click here.
Wishing all of my Genetti kin a happy and prosperous New Year!