Dalmatian language

Dalmatian language
Spoken in Croatia, Montenegro
Region Adriatic coast
Extinct 10 June 1898, when Tuone Udaina was killed
Language family
Language codes
ISO 639-3 dlm
Linguasphere 51-AAA-t

Dalmatian (or Dalmatic) was a Romance language spoken in the Dalmatia region of Croatia, and as far south as Kotor in Montenegro. The name refers to a pre-Roman tribe of the Illyrian linguistic group, Dalmatae. The Ragusan dialect of Dalmatian was the official language of the Republic of Ragusa – although in later times this came to be superseded by Italian (representing the Romance language population) or Serbian/Croatian (for the slavophone population).

Dalmatian speakers lived in the coastal towns: Zadar, Trogira, Spalato (Split), Ragusa (Dubrovnik), and Kotor (Jadera, Tragur, Spalatro, Raugia and Cattaro), each of these cities having a local dialect, and on the islands of Krk, Cres and Rab (Vikla, Crepsa and Arba).



Almost every city developed its own dialect. Most of these became extinct before they were recorded, so the only trace of these ancient dialects is some words borrowed into local dialects of today's Croatia.

Ragusan Dialect

Ragusan is the Southern dialect, whose name is derived from the Romance name of Dubrovnik, Ragusa. It came to the attention of modern scholars in two letters, from 1325 and 1397, and other medieval texts, which show a language influenced heavily by Venetian. The available sources include some 260 Ragusan words including pen (bread), teta (father), chesa (house) and fachir (to do), which were quoted by the Dalmatian Filippo Diversi, the rector of Ragusa in the 1430s.

The Republic of Ragusa had at one time an important fleet, but its influence decreased, so that it had only about three hundred ships in the 15th century.[1] The language was in trouble in the face of Slav expansion, as the Ragusan Senate decided that all debates had to be held in lingua veteri ragusea (ancient Ragusan language) and the use of the Slav was forbidden. Nevertheless, in the sixteenth century, Ragusan fell out of use and became almost extinct.

Vegliot Dialect

Vegliot (the native name being Viklasun)[2] is the Northern dialect and it is derived from the Italian name of Krk, Veglia, an island in Kvarner. On the inscription dating from the beginning of the fourth century, Krk is named as "Splendissima civitas Curictarum". The Croatian name derives from the Roman name (Curicum, Curicta), while the younger title Vecla – Vegla – Veglia (meaning "Old Town") was created in the medieval Romanesque period.

The last speaker of any Dalmatian dialect was the Burbur Tuone Udaina (Italian: Antonio Udina), who was killed by a bomb on June 10, 1898.[3][4] His language was studied by the scholar Matteo Giulio Bartoli, himself a native of nearby Istria, who visited him in 1897 and wrote down approximately 2800 words, stories, and accounts of his life, which were published in a book that has provided much information on the vocabulary, phonology, and grammar of the language. Bartoli wrote in Italian and published a translation in German (Das Dalmatische) in 1906. The Italian language manuscripts were reportedly lost, and the work was not re-translated into Italian until 2001.

Corzulot dialect

Corzulot is a dialect from the island of Korčula. Examples of Corzulot words compared with Vegliot, English, and Croatian:

Corzulot Vegliot Italian English Croatian
buža [5] bus buca hole rupa
čimitir čimitier cimitero cemetery groblje
dent diant dente tooth zub
faculet fazuol fazzoletto handkerchief rubac
fatiga fatica fabbrica work radi
fermaj! fermai! ferma! stop! stoj!
jeloz golaus geloso jealous ljubomoran
kantat cantar cantare to sing pjevati


The Roman Republic gradually came to occupy the territory of Illyria between 229 and 155 BC. Merchants and authorities settling from Rome brought with them the Latin language, and eventually the indigenous inhabitants mostly abandoned their languages (prevalently a variety of Illyrian tongues) for a so-called vulgar Latin (Lat. vulgarus – people's, popular, of lower register/speech). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Illyrian towns continued to speak Latin (see Illyro-Roman), which evolved over time, first into regional variants of Latin, and subsequently into distinct, independent Romance languages. That known as Dalmatian was spoken along the Dalmatian coast from Fiume (Rijeka) as far south as Cottora (Kotor) in Montenegro. Speakers lived mainly in the coastal towns of Jadera (Zadar), Tragurium (Trogir), Spalatum[6] (Split), Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and Acruvium (Kotor), and also on the islands of Curicta (Krk), Crepsa (Cres) and Arba (Rab). Almost every city developed its own dialect, but the most important dialects we know of were Vegliot, a northern dialect spoken on the island of Curicta, and Ragusan, a southern dialect spoken in and around Ragusa (Dubrovnik).

Areas of Dalmatian language dialects

We know about the Dalmatian dialect of Ragusa from two letters, dated 1325 and 1397, as well as from other medieval texts. The oldest preserved documents written in Dalmatian are thirteenth century inventories in Ragusan. The available sources include roughly two hundred sixty Ragusan words. Surviving words include pen (bread), teta (father), chesa (house) and fachir (to do), which were quoted by the Dalmatian, Filippo Diversi, the head of school of Ragusa in the 1430s. The earliest reference to the Dalmatian language dates from the tenth century and it is estimated that about fifty thousand people spoke it at that time, though the main source of this information, the Italian linguist Matteo Bartoli, may have exaggerated his figures.

Dalmatian was influenced particularly heavily by the Venetian language and Croatian (despite the latter, the Latin roots of Dalmatian remained prominent). A fourteenth century letter from Zadar (origin of the Iadera dialect) shows strong influence from Venetian, the language that after years under Venetian rule would extinguish Iadera and other dialects of Dalmatian. Other dialects met their demise with the settlement of populations of Slavic speakers.

Dalmatian became extinct when its last speaker, Burbur Tuone Udaina (Italian: Antonio Udina), was killed by a bomb on June 10, 1898.[3]


Thought to be a language that bridges the gap[citation needed] between the Romanian language and Italian, it is related[citation needed] to the Romanian dialects, such as the nearly extinct Istro-Romanian, spoken in nearby Istria, Croatia, the Megleno-Romanian, and Macedo-Romanian (also known as Aromanian).

Some of its features are quite archaic. Dalmatian is unique in that it is the only Romance language that palatalised /k/ and /g/ before /i/, but not before /e/ (all the others palatalise in both situations, except Sardinian, which did not palatalise at all): Latin civitate > Vegliot: cituot (city), Latin cenare > Vegliot: kenur (to dine).

Some of its words have been preserved as borrowings in South Slavic languages, chiefly in dialectal the Chakavian dialect of Croatian.

Similarities to Romanian

Among the similarities with Romanian, some consonant shifts can be found among the Romance languages only in Dalmatian and Romanian:

source destination Latin Vegliot Romanian Italian Meaning
/kt/ /pt/ octo guapto opt otto eight
/ŋn/ /mn/ cognatus comnut cumnat cognato brother-in-law
/ks/ /ps/ coxa copsa coapsă coscia thigh


Dalmatian kept Latin words related to urban life, lost (or if preserved, not with the original sense) in Romanian, such as cituot "city" (in Romanian cetate means "fortress", not "city"; compare also Albanian qytet "city", borrowed from Latin). The Dalmatians retained an active urban society in their city states, whereas most Romanians were driven into small mountain settlements during the Great Migrations of the Dark Ages.[7]

Venetian became a major influence on the language as Venice's commercial influence grew. The Čakavian dialect and Dubrovnik Štokavian dialect, which was spoken outside the cities since the immigration of the Slavs, gained importance in the cities by the sixteenth century, and it eventually completely replaced Dalmatian as a day-to-day language.


An analytic trend can be observed in Dalmatian: nouns and adjectives began losing their gender and number inflections, the noun declension disappeared completely and the verb conjugations began to follow the same path; however, the verb maintained a person and number distinction, except in the third person (in common with Romanian and several dialects of Italy).

The definite article is used as a preposition, unlike the Eastern Romance languages (like Romanian), which have it postposed to the noun.

Language sample

Here are examples of the Lord's Prayer in Latin, Dalmatian, Friulian, Italian, Istro-Romanian and Romanian:

Latin Dalmatian Friulian Italian Istro-Romanian Romanian
Pater noster, qui es in caelis: Tuota nuester, che te sante intel sil, Pari nestri che tu sês in cîl, Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli, Ciace nostru car le şti en cer, Tatăl nostru carele eşti în ceruri,
sanctificetur Nomen Tuum; sait santificuot el naun to. che al sedi santifiât il to nom. sia santificato il tuo nome. neca se sveta nomelu teu. sfinţească-se numele tău.
adveniat Regnum Tuum; Vigna el raigno to. Che al vegni il to ream. Venga il tuo regno. Neca venire craliestvo to. Vie împărăţia ta.
fiat voluntas Tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra. Sait fuot la voluntuot toa, coisa in sil, coisa in tiara. Che e sedi fate la tô volontât sicu in cîl cussì ancje in tiere. Sia fatta la tua volontà, come in cielo così in terra. Neca fie volia ta, cum en cer, aşa şi pre pemânt. Facă-se voia ta, precum în cer, aşa şi pe pământ.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie; Duote costa dai el pun nuester cotidiun. Danus vuê il nestri pan cotidian Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano Pera nostre saca zi de nam astez. Pâinea noastră cea de toate zilele, dă-ne-o nouă astăzi.
et dimitte nobis debita nostra, E remetiaj le nuestre debete, E pardoninus i nestris debits e rimetti a noi i nostri debiti, Odproste nam dutzan, şi ne iartă nouă păcatele noastre,
Sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris; coisa nojiltri remetiaime a i nuestri debetuar. sicu ancje nô ur ai pardonìn ai nestris debitôrs. come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori. ca şi noi odprostim a lu nostri dutznici. precum şi noi le iertăm greşiţilor noştri.
et ne nos inducas in tentationem; E naun ne menur in tentatiaun, E no stâ menânus in tentazion, E non ci indurre in tentazione, Neca nu na tu vezi en napastovanie, Şi nu ne duce pe noi în ispită,
sed libera nos a Malo. miu deleberiajne dal mal. ma liberinus dal mâl. ma liberaci dal male. neca na zbăveşte de zvaca slabe. ci ne izbăveşte de cel rău.

Parable of the Prodigal Son

E el daic: Jon ciairt jomno ci avaja doi feil, e el plé pedlo de louro daic a soa tuota: Tuota duoteme la puarte de moi luc, che me toca, e jul spartait tra louro la sostuanza e dapù pauch dai, mais toich indajoi el feil ple pedlo andait a la luorga, e luoc el dissipuat toich el soo, viviand malamiant. Muà el ju venait in se stiass, daic: quinci jomni de journata Cn cuassa da me tuota i ju bonduanza de puan e cua ju muor de fum.


And He said: There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father: 'Father give me the share of his property that will belong to me.' So he divided the property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. But when he came to himself he said: 'How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!'

Some Dalmatian words in today's Croatian language

garma - (Čakavian) - natural hole in the karst landscape or natural cut in the karst coast

gira / girica - (Čakavian) - picarel (fish)

gripa / gripela / hripa / hripela - (Čakavian) - stone road in Dalmatia

gusterna / gustirna / gustrina - (Čakavian) - rainwater reservoir

kapula / (Čakavian Croatian) - onion

temple / timpre - (Korčula / Lošinj) - temple (anatomical)

trakta / tratka - (Cavtat) - fishing net


Today some people are trying to revive Dalmatian Language. http://dalmazia.webs.com/langadalmata2.htm http://dalmazia.wikia.com/wiki/Dalmata_Wiki[citation needed]



  1. ^ Notizie Istorico-Critiche Sulla Antichita, Storia, e Letteratura de' Ragusei, Francesco Maria Appendini, 1803.
  2. ^ Bartoli, 2000
  3. ^ a b Roegiest, Eugeen (2006). Vers les sources des langues romanes: un itinéraire linguistique à. ACCO. pp. 138. ISBN 9033460947. http://books.google.com/?id=hMdz09HGd8kC&pg=PA138&dq=%22Tuone+Udaina%22+-wikipedia. 
  4. ^ Brahms, William B. (2005). Notable Last Facts: A Compendium of Endings, Conclusions, Terminations and Final Events throughout History. Original from the University of Michigan: Reference Desk Press. pp. 183. ISBN 9780976532507. http://books.google.com/?id=wIwYAAAAIAAJ&dq=%22Tuone+Udaina%22+-wikipedia. 
  5. ^ Marko Marelic- S. Francisco USA Carski Vernacular.pdf
  6. ^ Colloquia Maruliana, Vol. 12 Travanj 2003. Zarko Muljacic-On the Dalmato-Romance in Marulic's Works (hrcak.srce.hr). Split Romance (’Spalatin’) are extant by the author. Zarko Muljacic has set off in the only way possible, the indirect way of attempting to trace the secrets of its historical phonology by analysing any lexemes of possible Dalmato-Romance origin that have been preserved in Marulic’s Croatian works
  7. ^ Curta, Florin (2006). Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250. Cambridge medieval textbooks. Cambridge University Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780521815390. http://books.google.com/?id=YIAYMNOOe0YC&pg=RA2-PA100&lpg=RA2-PA100&dq=qytet+fort+city#v=onepage&q=qytet%20fort%20city&f=false. Retrieved 2009-11-20 


External links

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