Languages of Italy


Languages of Italy
Languages of Italy
Italian languages.png

Languages of Italy by groups[1][2][3][4][not in citation given]
Official language(s) Italian
Regional language(s) see "legal status"
Minority language(s) see "legal status"
Main immigrant language(s) Romanian, Berber, Maghrebi Arabic, Albanian
Main foreign language(s) English (29%)
French (14%)
Other regional language (6%)
Sign language(s) Italian Sign Language
Common keyboard layout(s)
Italian QWERTY
KB Italian.svg
Source ebs_243_en.pdf

The main language of Italy is Italian (a recent proposal aims to declare it the official language),[5] a descendant of the Tuscan dialect and a direct descendant of Latin, but several regional languages are also spoken to varying degrees. Other non-indigenous languages are spoken by a substantial percentage of the population due to immigration.

Contents

History of the Italian language

The Tuscan dialect (or Florentine language) spoken in Tuscany was promoted as the standard due to the socio-economic power associated with Florence as well as its literary heritage (Dante's Divine Comedy is often credited with the emergence of the Tuscan dialect as a standard). Pietro Bembo, a Venetian influenced by Petrarch, also promoted Tuscan as the standard literary language (volgare illustre). The spread of the printing press and literary movements (such as petrarchism and bembism) also furthered Italian standardization.

When Italy was unified in 1861, Italian existed mainly as a literary language. Many Romance regional languages were spoken throughout the Italian Peninsula (Italian dialects), each with local variants. Following Italian unification Massimo Taparelli, marquis d'Azeglio, one of Cavour's ministers, is said to have stated that having created Italy, all that remained was to create Italians (a national identity).

The establishment of a national education system led to a decrease in variation in the languages spoken across the country. Standardization was further expanded in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to economic growth and the rise of mass media and television (the state broadcaster RAI helped set an Italian standard).

Legal status

Languages and dialects of Italy

Recognition at the European level

Italy is a signatory of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, but is yet to ratify the treaty, and therefore its provisions protecting regional languages do not apply in the country.[6]

The Charter does not, however, establish at what point differences in expression result in a separate language, deeming it an "often controversial issue", and citing the necessity to take into account, other than purely linguistic criteria, also "psychological, sociological and political considerations".[7]

Recognition by the Italian state

The law no. 482 of 15 December 1999, recognises the following minority languages: Albanian, Catalan, German, Greek, Slovene, Croatian, French, Franco-Provençal, Friulian, Ladin, Occitan, Sardinian (Legge 15 Dicembre 1999, n. 482, Art. 2, comma 1).[8] The law also makes a distinction between those who are considered minority groups (Albanians, Catalans, Germanic peoples indigenous to Italy ("popolazioni germaniche"), Greeks, Slovenes and Croats) and those who are not (all the others).[8]

Recognition by the regions

  • Aosta Valley: French is co-official (enjoying the same dignity and standing of Italian) in the whole region (Le Statut spécial de la Vallée d'Aoste, Title VIe, Article 38);[9] German is unofficial but recognised in the Lys Valley (Lystal) (Le Statut spécial de la Vallée d'Aoste, Title VIe, Art. 40 - bis).[9]
  • Campania: the Neapolitan language is "promoted", but not recognised, by the region (Reg. Gen. nn. 159/I 198/I, Art. 1, comma 4).[10]
  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia: the Friulian and Slovene language are "promoted", but not recognised, by the region (Legge regionale 18 dicembre 2007, n. 29, Art. 1, comma 1);[11] (Legge regionale 16 novembre 2007, n. 26, Art. 16).[12]
  • Piedmont: the Piedmontese language is unofficial but recognised as the regional language (Consiglio Regionale del Piemonte, Ordine del Giorno n. 1118, Presentato il 30/11/1999);[13][14] the region "promotes", without recognising, the Occitan, Franco-Provençal and Walser languages (Legge regionale 10 aprile 1990, n. 26, Art. 3, comma 1 bis).[15]
  • Sardinia: Sardinian is co-official (enjoying the same dignity and standing of Italian) in the whole region (Legge Regionale 15 ottobre 1997, n. 26, Titolo I, Art. 2, comma 1);[16] Catalan is co-official in the city of Alghero (Legge Regionale 15 ottobre 1997, n. 26, Art. 2, comma 4),[16] Tabarchino in the islands of Sulcis, the Sassarese and Gallurese dialects in their respective territories (Legge Regionale 15 ottobre 1997, n. 26, Art. 2, comma 4).[16]
  • Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol: German is co-official (enjoying the same dignity and standing of Italian) in the whole region (Statuto speciale per il Trentino-Alto Adige, Titolo XI, Articolo 99);[17] Ladin, Cimbrian and Mocheno are unofficial but recognised in their respective territories (Statuto speciale per il Trentino-Alto Adige, Titolo XI, Articolo 102).[17]
  • Veneto: the Venetian language is unofficial but recognised (Legge regionale 13 aprile 2007, n. 8, Art. 2, comma 2).[18]

Conservation status

According to the UNESCO's Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, there are 31 endangered languages in Italy.[19] The degree of endangerment is classified in different categories ranging from 'safe' (safe languages are not included in the atlas) to 'extinct' (when there are no speakers left).[20]

The source for the languages' distribution is the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger[19] unless otherwise stated, and refers to Italy exclusively.

Vulnerable

Definitely endangered

Severely endangered

Genetic classification

All languages indigenous to Italy are part of the Indo-European language family. The source is the SIL's Ethnologue unless otherwise stated.[21] Language classification can be a controversial issue, when a classification is contested by academic sources, this is reported in the 'notes' column.

Romance languages

Gallo-Iberian languages

Language Family ISO 639-3 Dialects spoken in Italy Notes Speakers
French Gallo-Romance Gallo-Rhaetian Oïl French fra 100,000
Franco-Provençal Gallo-Romance Gallo-Rhaetian Oïl Southeastern frp Valdôtain; Faetar 70,000
Catalan Ibero-Romance East Iberian cat Algherese 20,000
Occitan Ibero-Romance Oc oci Gardiol 100,000
Friulian Gallo-Romance Gallo-Rhaetian Rhaetian fur 794,000
Ladin Gallo-Romance Gallo-Rhaetian Rhaetian lld 30,000

Gallo-Italian languages

Language ISO 639-3 Dialects spoken in Italy Notes Speakers
Emiliano-Romagnolo eml Emilian; Romagnol (Forlivese); Emilian and Romagnol have been assigned two different ISO 639-3 codes (egl and rgn, respectively). 2,000,000
Ligurian lij Tabarchino; Mentonasc; Intemelio; Brigasc 1,920,000
Lombard lmo Western Lombard (see Western dialects of Lombard language); Eastern Lombard; Gallo-Italic of Sicily 8,830,000
Piedmontese pms 3,110,000
Venetian vec Triestine 2,180,000

Italo-Dalmatian languages

Language ISO 639-3 Dialects spoken in Italy Notes Speakers
Italian ita Tuscan; Central Italian 55,000,000
Judeo-Italian itk 200
South Italian (Neapolitan) nap Abruzzese; Northern Calabrian (Cosentino); Bari dialect 7,050,000
Sicilian scn Salentino; Southern Calabrian; Cilentan 4,830,000

Sardinian

Sardinian is a dialect continuum with significant differences among its dialects. Ethnologue considers four of these as indipendent languages (two of which to be part of Corsican rather than Sardinian), though being included, according the same source, in a hypothetical sub-group named Southern Romance[22]:

Language ISO 639-3 Dialects spoken in Italy Notes Speakers
Campidanese Sardinian sro 345,000
Gallurese sdn considered an outlying dialect of Corsican by the UNESCO[19] 100,000
Logudorese Sardinian src 500,000
Sassarese sdc considered an outlying dialect of Corsican by the UNESCO[19] 100,000

Non-Romance languages

Language Family ISO 639-3 Dialects spoken in Italy Notes Speakers
Arbëresh Albanian Tosk aae considered an outlying dialect of Albanian by the UNESCO[19] 80,000
Croatian Slavic South Western hrv Molise Croatian 3,500
Greek Greek Attic ell Griko (Salento); Griko (Calabria) 20,000
Romani Indo-Iranian Indo-Aryan Central zone Romani rom
Slovene Slavic South Western slv Resian 100,000

Germanic

Language Family ISO 639-3 Dialects spoken in Italy Notes Speakers
Bavarian Upper German Bavarian-Austrian bar Cimbrian; Mocheno 250,000
Cimbrian Upper German Bavarian-Austrian cim sometimes considered a dialect of Bavarian, also considered an outlying dialect of Bavarian by the UNESCO[19] 2,230
German Middle German East Middle German deu 225,000
Mocheno Upper German Bavarian-Austrian mhn considered an outlying dialect of Bavarian by the UNESCO[19] 1,900
Walser Upper German Alemannic wae 3,400

Geographic distribution

Approximate distribution of the regional languages of Northern Italy according to the UNESCO's Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger:

Alemannic
Emilian-Romagnol
Francoprovençal
Ladin
Töitschu


Approximate distribution of the regional languages of Sardinia and Southern Italy according to the UNESCO's Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger:

Sassarese
Logudorese
Campidanese

Standardised written forms

The following regional languages of Italy have a standardised written form. This may be widely accepted or used alongside more traditional written forms:

  • Ligurian: "Grafîa ofiçiâ" created by the Académia Ligùstica do Brénno;[23]
  • Sardinian: " Limba sarda comuna";[24]
  • Friulian: "Grafie uficiâl" created by the Osservatori Regjonâl de Lenghe e de Culture Furlanis;[25]
  • Ladin: "Grafia Ladina" created by the Istituto Ladin de la Dolomites;[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ Ali, Linguistic atlas of Italy
  2. ^ Linguistic cartography of Italy by Padova University
  3. ^ Italiand dialects by Pellegrini
  4. ^ AIS, Sprach-und Sachatlas Italiens und der Südschweiz, Zofingen 1928-1940
  5. ^ Atto Camera n. 648 – Modifica all' articolo 12 della Costituzione in materia di riconoscimento della lingua italiana quale lingua ufficiale della Repubblica
  6. ^ European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages – Status as of: 9/3/2010, Council of Europe, http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ChercheSig.asp?NT=148&CM=8&DF=&CL=ENG 
  7. ^ What is a regional or minority language?, Council of Europe, http://www.coe.int/t/dc/files/themes/langues_minoritaire/Definition_en.asp 
  8. ^ a b Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche storiche, Italian parliament, http://www.parlamento.it/parlam/leggi/99482l.htm 
  9. ^ a b Statut spécial de la Vallée d'Aoste, Title VIe, Region Vallée d'Aoste, http://www.regione.vda.it/amministrazione/autonomia/statuto6_f.asp 
  10. ^ Reg. Gen. nn. 159/I 198/I, Norme per lo Studio, la Tutela, la Valorizzazione della Lingua. Napoletana, dei Dialetti e delle Tradizioni Popolari in. Campania, Consiglio Regionale della Campania, http://www.consiglio.regione.campania.it/cms/CM_PORTALE_CRC/servlet/Docs?dir=atti&file=AttiCommissione_4203.pdf 
  11. ^ Norme per la tutela, valorizzazione e promozione della lingua friulana, Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia, http://lexview-int.regione.fvg.it/fontinormative/xml/xmlLex.aspx?anno=2007&legge=29&ART=000&AG1=00&AG2=00&fx=lex 
  12. ^ Norme regionali per la tutela della minoranza linguistica slovena, Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia, http://lexview-int.regione.fvg.it/fontinormative/xml/xmlLex.aspx?anno=2007&legge=26&ART=000&AG1=00&AG2=00&fx=lex 
  13. ^ Ordine del Giorno n. 1118, Presentato il 30/11/1999, Consiglio Regionale del Piemonte, http://www.consiglioregionale.piemonte.it/mzodgint/jsp/AttoSelezionato.jsp?ATTO=61118 
  14. ^ Ordine del Giorno n. 1118, Presentato il 30/11/1999, Gioventura Piemontèisa, http://www.gioventurapiemonteisa.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/odg1118.pdf 
  15. ^ Legge regionale 10 aprile 1990, n. 26., Regione Piemonte, http://www.regione.piemonte.it/patrimonio_ling/normativa/dwd/regionale/lr_26_90.pdf 
  16. ^ a b c Legge Regionale 15 ottobre 1997, n. 26, Regione Sardegna, 1997, https://www.regione.sardegna.it/j/v/86?v=9&c=72&s=1&file=1997026 
  17. ^ a b Statuto speciale per il Trentino-Alto Adige, http://www.regione.taa.it/normativa/statuto_speciale.pdf 
  18. ^ Legge regionale 13 aprile 2007, n. 8, Consiglio Regionale del Veneto, http://www.consiglioveneto.it/crvportal/leggi/2007/07lr0008.html 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, UNESCO’s Endangered Languages Programme, http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=00206 
  20. ^ Degrees of endangerment, UNESCO’s Endangered Languages Programme, http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=00139 
  21. ^ Languages of Italy, SIL, http://www.ethnologue.org/show_country.asp?name=IT 
  22. ^ "Ethnologue report for Southern Romance". http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=1161-16. 
  23. ^ Grafîa ofiçiâ, Académia Ligùstica do Brénno, http://www.zeneize.net/grafia/index.htm 
  24. ^ Limba sarda comuna, Sardegna Cultura, http://www.sardegnacultura.it/linguasarda/limbasardacomuna/ 
  25. ^ Grafie dal O.L.F., Friûl.net, http://www.friul.net/lenghe/Grafie.php 
  26. ^ PUBLICAZIOIGN DEL ISTITUTO LADIN, Istituto Ladin de la Dolomites, http://www.istitutoladino.it/lad/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=48 

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