The peculiarity of intercalari
Italy may have a common language in Italian, but like many countries, there can be strong regional variations in both accents, and the way it is spoken. Along with these pronunciation differences is something even more confusing for outsiders – intercalare.
The term is used to describe Italian expressions that rarely add meaning to a sentence, but are simply used to emphasise a feeling, or sentiment being expressed. Equivalent English expressions you may hear people say are things like: ‘you know’, ‘innit’ , ‘hey’, ‘totally’ and like, ‘like’. They’re technically unnecessary, but they add color to language.
Along with more common intercalari many Italians use, there are some that are unique to specific regions, or even towns. Because these are heavily derived from local dialects, many outsiders would have trouble understanding them, even if spoken in fluent italian.
Sometimes the same expression completely changes from one region to another. For example, in Pisa, people may drop ‘Dè’ into conversation, while in Naples, they’d say ‘iah’ or ‘vabbuo'. None have set meanings, but show interest from the listener to what the speaker is saying.
So you see, no matter how good your Italian, when in Italy, there’s always the potential to sound like an outsider.