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Italian girl injured in explosion on Thai island

Seven people, including an Italian girl, were injured when a car exploded in a shopping mall car park on the popular Thai tourist island of Samui.

Italian girl injured in explosion on Thai island
A food court at Central Festival Mall in Samui island. The explosion occurred in the mall's basement car park. Central Festival Mall Samui photo: Shutterstock

The explosion occurred on Friday night in the basement car park of Central Festival mall on Samui island as late-night shoppers were still inside the building.

The Bangkok Post reported on Sunday that a bomb was placed inside a 15kg cooking gas cylinder, which was wired to a mobile phone used to detonate the bomb at a set time. The newspaper said the culprits might have planted the bomb due to a "local business or political conflict". 

A Samui official said six of the injured were Thai and the seventh was a an Italian girl. All have been released from hospital.

"Six Thais and a 12-year-old girl were treated for minor injuries," said Poonsak Sophonsasmorong of the island's disaster prevention office.

Citing sources at the Italian embassy in Bangkok, La Repubblica reported that the Italian girl had not suffered any physical trauma, but was "in shock". 

The explosion, which damaged several nearby cars, also sparked local media speculation that it may have been a car bomb linked to a festering insurgency in Thailand's southernmost provinces, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) further south.

But Poonsak played down the possibility, pending a probe early on Saturday by bomb disposal experts.

"There is no official conclusion for the cause of the blast yet," Poonsak added.

Samui is a wildly popular tourist island in the Gulf of Thailand. Around 20 million visitors flock to Thailand each year and are a key part of the economy.

The kingdom's junta is desperate to woo tourists after a year of bad news following a coup in May last year.

Although the military lifted martial law last week, it maintained sweeping security powers citing the threat of political unrest.

Authorities are also battling the insurgency in the Muslim-majority southern provinces bordering Malaysia, which has claimed more than 6,300 lives in a decade.

Rebels, who are seeking greater autonomy, have not launched attacks in Thailand's better-known tourist areas outside of the South.

But deadly blasts have occasionally struck Hat Yai, the main commercial city in the south, which is popular with Malaysian tourists.

Thailand's junta says it is trying to reboot peace talks with a patchwork of Muslim militant groups from the culturally distinct south.

But no date for the talks has been announced, while rights groups say killings of civilians and abuses by security forces are continuing.

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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

IN MAPS: A brief introduction to Italy’s many local ‘dialects’

Are the Italians around you speaking a completely different language? Why are local dialects often so far removed from modern Italian? Here's what you need to know.

IN MAPS: A brief introduction to Italy's many local 'dialects'
A man wearing a t-shirt reading ''100% Venetian''. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

It's the problem italian language learners have faced for as long as anyone can remember. You've diligently studied your Italian grammar, and carefully practiced your phrases ahead of your first visit to Italy, only to realise upon arrival that the Italians around you seem to be speaking a different language entirely.

READ ALSO: Ten of the most common Italian language mistakes you should avoid

Italy's dialects are far more than just heavily-accented Italian. They seem like totally different languages because, in fact, that's exactly what they are.

It's not quite correct to call them “dialects”, which are actually variants on a standard language. These are different languages which evolved separately from Latin – or, in some cases, other languages.

And even when they switch to Italian, speakers of these dialects or languages often speak with a heavy accent, much to the dismay of anyone still getting to grips with with basic Italian. Even in a big city like Florence or Rome, Italian spoken in a thick local accent can be hard to decipher – even for native Italian speakers from other areas.

As the map below shows, every region and often province has its own local language. Some have more than one, and each town may also have a variation.

Many of these are part of language “families” and some are more closely related to Italian, or to Latin, than others.

The map below classifies them further and also shows how languages in different regions are connected.

Map: Antonio Ciccolella/Wikimedia Commons

This might look complicated, but anyone who lives in a small italian town will no doubt still be thinking that a more detailed map is needed, as there are actually many more, smaller variations within these categories.

Do people in Italy really still speak all of these dialects?

The language we call Standard Italian derives from 13th-century Florentine. Until then, there had been no written rules, and the languages of what is now Italy had mainly evolved by being spoken.

When Italy was unified in 1861, only 2.5 percent of the population could actually speak the Italian language. All spoke their regional languages. Now, that figure is in the high 90s, though around five percent still speak only or predominantly in their regional language.

 
While you might imagine that these dialects or languages are mainly used by older people and are slowly dying out, that's not usually the case. 
 
While they'll also speak standard Italian, you'll find young Italians proudly speaking their local lingo everywhere from central Naples to the valleys of South Tyrol.
 
Some are far more widely used than others. In fact the most widely spoken is Neapolitan, with over five million speakers today.
 
The least widely-used is Croato. This dialect is used by an ethnic minority from a region corresponding to present-day Croatia and is spoken in the southern region of Molise. Today it only around 1,000 speakers.
 
In the southernmost parts of Italy, such as Salento and Calabria, Griko dialects are thought to derive from ancient Greek.
 
Meanwhile, Sardinian is classified as an “endangered” language by Unesco,  Like Italian, Sardinian has roots in Latin – in fact, some linguists argue that, of all the modern Romance languages, Sardinian is the closest to Latin – but it also displays much older influences. Today, particularly younger people on the island speak a mix of both languages, a sort of “Sarditalian”.
 
For more details, here are our guides to getting started with some of Italy's regional languages:

 

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