In the last half century, spoken Italian has spread widely at the expense of dialects, especially in large cities. Literacy, more intensely curated, the dissemination of newspapers and especially the great means of communication such as radio and television, operate massively, also naturally in spreading written Italian. Suffice it to recall just a few data. If still in the early twentieth century half of young people did not enroll in elementary schools, by 1950 the percentage of non-enrolled people had dropped to less than one sixth, almost disappearing in our days; if, again at the beginning of the century, half of the population could be considered illiterate, around 1950 the illiterates were about 10%, to drop to about 5% in 1975. However, one should take into account the striking differences both as regards urban and agricultural areas, and as regards the North and South: in 1951 the percentage of illiterate people in the provincial capitals was 7.46%, that of the agricultural by 18.17%; that of Calabria is 32%, that of Lombardy is 3% (T. De Mauro).
Of course, literacy cannot certainly be taken as a parameter of effective use of the language, but certainly as an index of knowledge of it, perhaps rather approximate. And the extension of compulsory schooling to eight years, so from the 1963-1964 school year the lower middle school becomes free (while the elementary school books are paid for by the state), has as a sure effect the continuous, progressive strengthening the use of both the spoken language and the written language. The statistical data of the press are equivalent: it can now be assumed that more than two thirds of the adult population is reached by the daily or weekly newspaper. It is precisely after the Second World War that the boom of magazines, women’s press, comic newspapers exploded, yellow and science fiction weeklies: all of them play an important role in spreading a modestly common language, even in environments of modest culture. The great means of verbal and audiovisual communication, from radio to spoken cinema, to television, have had, especially the latter, an enormous diffusion among all strata of the population, in all social and regional environments: between regions and between different social classes the differences in listening and radio-television viewing are very limited compared to the national average, which moreover probably exceeds 90% of the population. It should also be borne in mind that these means of communication go beyond the limit of one’s own illiteracy and the much wider one of returning illiteracy.
At the same time, industrialization, which became relevant especially after the Second World War, led to a gigantic emigration from the countryside and from small towns to large industrial cities, uprooting millions of Italians from their secular headquarters. The dialect, which was a sufficient linguistic tool in closed and stable communities, is no longer needed: the only possibility of understanding between the old and the very new citizens is the national language, albeit in more or less provincial versions.
In other words, urbanization has upset the secular structure of Italian society also from a linguistic point of view, strongly sending ever more dense masses of Italians towards the common Italian. The process is not uniform, but varies from city to city, from region to region, depending on the immigrant mass, on the cultural and traditional tradition of the dialect, on the linguistic status of the ruling class. However, this massive shift has precisely caused a double effect, since in immigration centers the speakers of ancient tradition are forced to understand each other on the level of common Italian, while the emigration centers have lost speakers, feeling their strength. and the compactness of the dialect.
According to ANSWERMBA.COM, the spread of the common language and the contemporary dilution of dialects favor the affirmation of the regional varieties of Italian, which result from the adoption of the common language through a continuous mediation of dialectal elements. In particular, in the regional varieties of spoken Italian the phonological reality of the underlying dialects is strongly present, also because, for centuries and centuries, the common language has almost only fulfilled the function of written language.
In Tuscany, the crisis is felt less: however the increasingly strong diffusion of the intervocalic sound s, which is also perceived in Florence, can be seen as an action of the Italian spoken at a literary level which tends to unify precisely on the intervocalic sound s (if not even as an action of the more prestigious northern type). In Lombardy deaf stops (t, k) in an intervocalic position, in dialects precisely where there were only the sonorous ones (or the vanishing). As regards morphology and syntax, in Sicily, for example, in many speakers the compound past prevails over the simple, in others the latter is very tenacious, according to the dialectal usage, while the use of reduplications of the like when we are old old and I don’t like the gerund of the type (F. Tropea); in Lombardy, where the use of the subject pronoun was mandatory, there is a tendency to conform to the freedom of common Italian. The process of Italianization of dialects and the formation of regional varieties can be seen even more evidently in the lexicon: for example, in Rome,, bricoccola, imbertà with asleep, apricot, pocket, and so on; in Piedmont, fratèl, sorèla, aqua quickly overwhelm, even in the dialects of the mountain areas, frèl, seuri, èva, and so on. In Sicily asciari, bbadduzza, bbunaca, bad, custureri, maruggia, santiari, are now usually replaced by the respective truvari equivalents,purpetta (“meatball”), jacket, vìdua (“widow”), sartu, mànicu, bbistimiari.