A journey through Italian dialects

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You might not know this, but Italian is not the only language spoken in Italy. The official language of the Republic of Italy is Italian, historically known as the literary Tuscan, used by renowned writers such as Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca and Giovanni Boccaccio during the XIII century. Curiously enough, Italian as we know it was only used by a small minority before Italy became unified in 1861.

Up until that moment, Italy included and still includes a myriad of dialects that derive from Latin, Greek, Albanian, Slavic and Germanic languages. If you don’t already know, a dialect is a form of a language that people speak in a particular part of a country, usually containing some different words and grammar. Let’s have a look at what other languages/dialects are spoken in Italy, and in which of the 20 regions we can find them.

 

http://www.map-of-italy.org/map.htm
Language / Dialect spoken Language type Spoken in
Francoprovenziale (Franco-Provençal, Arpitan or Romand) Romance Aosta Valley
Apulia
Piedmont
Occitano (Occitan) Romance Calabria
Piedmont
Piemontese (Piedmontese) Romance Aosta Valley
Liguria
Piedmont
Ligure (Ligurian) Romance Liguria
Piedmont
Sardinia
Lombardo (Lombard) Romance Lombardy
Piedmont
Trentino
Emiliano-Romagnolo (Emilian-Romagnol) Romance Emilia-Romagna
Lombardy
Marche
Gallo-Italico di Basilicata (Gallo-Italic of Basilicata) Romance Basilicata
Campania
Gallo-Italico di Sicilia (Gallo-Italic of Sicily) Romance Sicily
Veneto (Venetian) Romance Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Trentino
Veneto
Dialetto toscano (Tuscan dialects) Romance Tuscany
Dialetti italiani mediani (Central-Italian dialects) Romance Abruzzo
Lazio
Marche
Umbria
Dialetti italiani meridionali (Southern-Italian dialects) Romance Abruzzo
Basilicata
Campania
Lazio
Molise
Catano (Catalan)
Gallurese (Gallurese)
Sassarese (Sassarese)
Sardo (Sardinian)
Romance Sardinia
Ladino (Ladin) Romance Trentino
Veneto
Friulano (Friulian) Romance Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Veneto
Siciliano (Sicilian) Romance Apulia
Calabria
Sicily
Sudtirolese (South Tyrolean German)
Bavarese centrale (Bavarian)
Cimbro (Cimbrian)
Mòcheno (Mòcheno)
Germanic Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Piedmont
Trentino
Veneto
Valle d’Aosta
Walser (Walser German) Germanic Piedmont
Valle d’Aosta
Sloveno (Slovenian) Slavic Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Serbo-croato (Serbo-Croatian) Slavic Molise
Albanese (Albanian) Other Abruzzo
Apulia
Basilicata
Campania
Calabria
Molise
Greco (Greek) Other Apulia
Calabria
Sicily

 

Each dialect/language comes with a variety of sounds and words that differ from region to region.

In most cases, people in the North tend to pronounce the vowels e and o with an open sound rather than closed; this can become confusing for words such as pesca (peach – the correct diction here is pèsca [open e] like in caffè) or pesca (fishing – the correct diction here is pésca [closed e], like in perché).

Luciano was a Localisation Editor at busuu. Having grown up in Rome in a bilingual family, languages are a big part of his life. He later moved to London where he studied Computer Games Design and Story Development. You can usually find him playing board games, mooching around art galleries and cooking! He also loves reading and writing.

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