Italian is the most widely spoken language in Sardinia, although the elegant Sardinian language Sardo is still present, and spoken I different dialects across the island. You will notice that many place names and surnames end in a ‘u’, this is common in the Sardinian Language.
I have written an in-depth article about the Sardinian languages and its many dialects, you can read it here: The Language Of Sardinia
Why Should You Learn Italian For Your Holiday?
When travelling on holiday to a foreign-speaking country it’s always nice to learn a few phrases of the local language, it gives you the ability to greet locals, show your respect to a new culture, and to challenge your brain to juggle with new words and pronunciations. Before travelling to Sardinia, or even on the journey to Sardinia, you can spend a little time learning a few phrases, or even just a few words that you can practice on Sardinia.
Connections Between Italian & English
If you already speak a Latin derived languages such as Spanish or French, then you are sure to learn some basic Italian quickly. English also features a lot of Latin but is heavily influenced by the Germanic language. If you look closely at words you will quickly form connections between words. Such as Fame (Hungry) and the English words (Famished or Famine.) Those of us from English speaking countries like myself are lucky in the sense that we can travel to nearly any country in the world and get by without native language.
I know from my own experience of growing up in the UK, that there is not a heavy emphasis on learning another language, and it’s also true that we are not as influenced by other languages in our daily lives. When I first visited Switzerland, I noticed how every food item would be translated into three languages on the packaging (German, French, and Italian), I imagine that Swiss children are able to learn a lot just from seeing this, not to mention constantly hearing a mix of 3/4 of their national languages each day (the fourth being Romansh.)
Native English Speakers Learning Italian
I believe those of us from English speaking countries have a harder time learning new languages, partly because we get most of our media diet from the United States and the UK. However, it’s never too late to learn a language or at least to have command over a few phrases that give you the power to master your order in a bar or ask for direction when you’re lost.
If you find yourself off the beaten path in Sardinia (where you will find the real gems) then a little bit of Italian could come in handy.
Do I Need To Speak Italian In Sardinia?
In the city’s and around typical tourist areas, you will find many people that can communicate in English, the further inland you go the harder it will be to find English speakers, in fact, if you go to the very heart of Sardinia you will find that many stick to the native Sardinia language and won’t even understand Italian. Every time I ask someone fluent in Italian and Sardinian, which is the better language, they always point to the Sardinian as being more expressive, and more elegant. It’s actually the closest of all the languages to its Latin roots.
If you want to learn more about the number of English speakers in Sardinia, then you can read my article: Do Many People Speak English In Sardinia?
A Good Way To Learn Italian Ready For You Holiday
If you are serious about learning Italian ready for your holiday, so you can hold some conversations with locals, and get by with ease. Then I have to recommend Pimsleur which I have found to be the best way of diving into a new language. Access to the lessons cost around $20 or £17 a month but it is so in-depth, and imprints the language into your brain with scientifically formulated repetitions that you cannot get with Duolingo or Babbel. I think its the next best thing after hiring an Italian tutor or being able to immerse yourself in Italy for several months.
Immersing Yourself In The Italian Language
I believe that anyone can learn Italian and languages of a similar complexity but just being surrounded by the languages all the time for at least 3 months. The problems are that we will always gravitate to our native languages. When I first arrived in Sardinia, I was serious about learning Italian, I even changed the preset language on my phone and laptop to Italian, and began only to listen to Italian music. But the issue was that I would stay with people from other countries and we would always revert to speaking English. I think this can really prevent you from fully absorbing a new language.
For most of us who will be learning a language may be for an hour a day, outside of Italy then it could take years to begin to speak Italian comfortably. There is no better way to learn a language than total immersion, especially in a place that demands you speak the local language to get anything done, places where no-one can translate for you, and you have to slowly figure it out if you want to order food or find directions.
Can I Learn Italian With Duolingo?
If you only intend on learning a few phrases then Duolingo is a good free option, and it only requires a little bit of time each day, to learn some Italian, but I don’t believe it will give you the skills need to hold a conversation in Italian, but it may give you enough to get by on your holiday.
Translating Italian Lyrics To Learn The Language
A good way of learning Italian is through music, especially by translating lyrics from songs you enjoy. One of my favourite Italian artists and favourite artists, in general, is Franco Battiato, I find his pronunciations really clear, and this has been a good way of learning Italian, and also grasping the deeper meanings in songs. I remember listening to a popular Italian artist Mamood, I didn’t understand that his music is actually quite profound until I looked into the lyrics, and translated them to English. I normally translate using a dictionary, but for more complex phrases than I recommend using DeepL which is more precise than Google Translate. It’s important to break the lyrics down, slowly translating couplings of words, then you can see how a sentences meaning can change by every new word.
Don’t forget to sing along as well. This practice of translating Italian song, will have you repeating same song for ages, singing along will create an emotional connection and really make the Italian lyrics more memorable, you’ll even find parts of lyrics that you can add into conversations.