- Languages of Italy
Languages of Italy
Languages of Italy by groups[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%)
Other regional language (6%)
Sign language(s) Italian Sign Language Common keyboard layout(s) Italian QWERTY
The main language of Italy is Italian (a recent proposal aims to declare it the official language), 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.
- 1 History of the Italian language
- 2 Legal status
- 3 Conservation status
- 4 Genetic classification
- 5 Geographic distribution
- 6 Standardised written forms
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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).
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.
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".
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). 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).
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); German is unofficial but recognised in the Lys Valley (Lystal) (Le Statut spécial de la Vallée d'Aoste, Title VIe, Art. 40 - bis).
- Campania: the Neapolitan language is "promoted", but not recognised, by the region (Reg. Gen. nn. 159/I 198/I, Art. 1, comma 4).
- 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); (Legge regionale 16 novembre 2007, n. 26, Art. 16).
- 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); the region "promotes", without recognising, the Occitan, Franco-Provençal and Walser languages (Legge regionale 10 aprile 1990, n. 26, Art. 3, comma 1 bis).
- 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); Catalan is co-official in the city of Alghero (Legge Regionale 15 ottobre 1997, n. 26, Art. 2, comma 4), 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).
- 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); Ladin, Cimbrian and Mocheno are unofficial but recognised in their respective territories (Statuto speciale per il Trentino-Alto Adige, Titolo XI, Articolo 102).
- Veneto: the Venetian language is unofficial but recognised (Legge regionale 13 aprile 2007, n. 8, Art. 2, comma 2).
According to the UNESCO's Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, there are 31 endangered languages in Italy. 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).
The source for the languages' distribution is the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger unless otherwise stated, and refers to Italy exclusively.
- Alemannic: spoken in parts of the Aosta Valley, northern Piedmont
- Bavarian: South Tyrol
- Sicilian: Sicily, southern and central Calabria and southern Apulia
- South Italian or Neapolitan: Campania, Basilicata, Abruzzo, Molise, northern Calabria, northern and central Apulia, southern Lazio and Marche as well as easternmost Umbria
- Venetian: Veneto, parts of Friuli-Venezia Giulia
- Algherese Catalan: the town of Alghero in northwestern Sardinia; an outlying dialect of Catalan language not listed separately by the SIL
- Alpine Provençal: the upper valleys of Piedmont (Val Mairo, Val Varacho, Val d’Esturo, Entraigas, Limoun, Vinai, Pinerolo, Sestrieres); the original joint ISO code [prv] for Alpine Provençal and Provençal has been retired on false grounds
- Arbëresh: (i) Adriatic zone: Montecilfone, Campomarino, Portocannone and Ururi in Molise as well as Chieuti and Casalvecchio di Puglia in Apulia; (ii) San Marzano in Apulia; (iii) Greci in Campania; (iv) northern Basilicata: Barile, Ginestra and Maschito; (v) North Calabrian zone: ca. 30 settlements in northern Calabria (Plataci, Civita, Frascineto, San Demetrio Corone, Lungro, Acquaformosa etc.) as well as San Costantino Albanese and San Paolo Lucano in southern Basilicata; (vi) settlements in southern Calabria, e.g. San Nicola dell'Alto and Vena di Maida; (vii) Sicilian zone: Piana degli Albanesi and two nearby villages near Palermo; (viii) formerly also Villabadessa in Abruzzi; an outlying dialect of Albanian
- Campidanese: southern Sardinia
- Cimbrian: vigorously spoken in Luserna in Trentino; disappearing in Giazza (part of the commune Selva di Progno) in the Province of Verona and in Roana in the Province of Vicenza; recently extinct in several other locations in the region; an outlying dialect of Bavarian
- Corsican: spoken on Maddalena Island off the northeast coast of Sardinia
- Emilian-Romagnol: Emilia-Romagna, parts of the provinces of Pavia, Voghera, and Mantua in southern Lombardy, the Lunigiana district in northwestern Tuscany, the Province of Pesaro-Urbino in the Marche, and in a zone called Traspadana Ferrarese in the Province of Rovigo in Veneto
- Faetar: Faeto and Celle San Vito in the Province of Foggia in Apulia; an outlying dialect of Francoprovençal not listed separately by the SIL
- Francoprovençal: the Alpine valleys to the north and east of the Susa Valley in Piedmont; disappeared in France and Switzerland
- Friulian: Friuli-Venezia Giulia except the Province of Trieste and western and eastern border regions, and Portogruaro area in the Province of Venice in Veneto
- Gallo-Italic of Sicily: Nicosia, Sperlinga, Piazza Armerina, Valguarnera Caropepe and Aidone in the province of Enna, and San Fratello, Acquedolci, San Piero Patti, Montalbano Elicona, Novara di Sicilia and Fondachelli-Fantina in the province of Messina; an outlying dialect of Lombard not listed separately by the SIL; other dialects were formerly also spoken in southern Italy outside Sicily, especially in Basilicata
- Gallurese: northeastern Sardinia; an outlying dialect of Corsican
- Ladin: several towns and villages in the Dolomites, including Badia and Mareo in the Val Badia and Urtijëi in the Gardena Valley in South Tyrol, Fassa in the Fascia Valley in Trentino, and Livinallongo in the Cordevole valley in the Province of Belluno
- Ligurian: Liguria and adjacent areas of Piedmont, Emilia and Tuscany; settlements in the towns of Carloforte on the San Pietro Island and Calasetta on the Sant’Antioco Island off the southwest coast of Sardinia
- Logudorese: central Sardinia
- Lombard: Lombardy (except the southernmost border areas) and the Province of Novara in Piedmont
- Mócheno: Palù, Fierozzo and Frassilongo in the Fersina Valley in Trentino; an outlying dialect of Bavarian
- Piedmontese: Piedmont except the Province of Novara, the western Alpine valleys and southern border areas, as well as minor adjacent areas
- Resian: Resia in the northeastern part of the Province of Udine; an outlying dialect of Slovene not listed separately by the SIL
- Romani: spoken by the Roma community in Italy
- Sassarese: northwestern Sardinia; a transitional language between Corsican and Sardinian
- Yiddish: spoken by parts of the Jewish community in Italy
- Töitschu the village of Issime in the upper Lys Valley/Lystal in the Aosta Valley; an outlying dialect of Alemannic not listed separately by the SIL
- Molise Croatian: the villages of Montemitro, San Felice del Molise, and Acquaviva Collecroce in the Province of Campobasso in southern Molise; an outlying dialect of Serbo-Croat not listed separately by the SIL
- Griko (Salento): the Salento peninsula in the Province of Lecce in southern Apulia; an outlying dialect of Greek not listed separately by the SIL
- Gardiol: Guardia Piemontese in Calabria; an outlying dialect of Alpine Provençal
- Griko (Calabria): a few villages near Reggio di Calabria in southern Calabria; an outlying dialect of Greek not listed separately by the SIL
All languages indigenous to Italy are part of the Indo-European language family. The source is the SIL's Ethnologue unless otherwise stated. Language classification can be a controversial issue, when a classification is contested by academic sources, this is reported in the 'notes' column.
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
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
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 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:
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 100,000 Logudorese Sardinian src 500,000 Sassarese sdc considered an outlying dialect of Corsican by the UNESCO 100,000
Language Family ISO 639-3 Dialects spoken in Italy Notes Speakers Arbëresh Albanian Tosk aae considered an outlying dialect of Albanian by the UNESCO 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
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 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 1,900 Walser Upper German Alemannic wae 3,400
Approximate distribution of the regional languages of Northern Italy according to the UNESCO's Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger:
Approximate distribution of the regional languages of Sardinia and Southern Italy according to the UNESCO's Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger:
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;
- Sardinian: " Limba sarda comuna";
- Friulian: "Grafie uficiâl" created by the Osservatori Regjonâl de Lenghe e de Culture Furlanis;
- Ladin: "Grafia Ladina" created by the Istituto Ladin de la Dolomites;
- ^ Ali, Linguistic atlas of Italy
- ^ Linguistic cartography of Italy by Padova University
- ^ Italiand dialects by Pellegrini
- ^ AIS, Sprach-und Sachatlas Italiens und der Südschweiz, Zofingen 1928-1940
- ^ Atto Camera n. 648 – Modifica all' articolo 12 della Costituzione in materia di riconoscimento della lingua italiana quale lingua ufficiale della Repubblica
- ^ 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
- ^ What is a regional or minority language?, Council of Europe, http://www.coe.int/t/dc/files/themes/langues_minoritaire/Definition_en.asp
- ^ a b Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche storiche, Italian parliament, http://www.parlamento.it/parlam/leggi/99482l.htm
- ^ 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
- ^ 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
- ^ 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
- ^ 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
- ^ 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
- ^ Ordine del Giorno n. 1118, Presentato il 30/11/1999, Gioventura Piemontèisa, http://www.gioventurapiemonteisa.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/odg1118.pdf
- ^ Legge regionale 10 aprile 1990, n. 26., Regione Piemonte, http://www.regione.piemonte.it/patrimonio_ling/normativa/dwd/regionale/lr_26_90.pdf
- ^ 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
- ^ a b Statuto speciale per il Trentino-Alto Adige, http://www.regione.taa.it/normativa/statuto_speciale.pdf
- ^ Legge regionale 13 aprile 2007, n. 8, Consiglio Regionale del Veneto, http://www.consiglioveneto.it/crvportal/leggi/2007/07lr0008.html
- ^ 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
- ^ Degrees of endangerment, UNESCO’s Endangered Languages Programme, http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=00139
- ^ Languages of Italy, SIL, http://www.ethnologue.org/show_country.asp?name=IT
- ^ "Ethnologue report for Southern Romance". http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=1161-16.
- ^ Grafîa ofiçiâ, Académia Ligùstica do Brénno, http://www.zeneize.net/grafia/index.htm
- ^ Limba sarda comuna, Sardegna Cultura, http://www.sardegnacultura.it/linguasarda/limbasardacomuna/
- ^ Grafie dal O.L.F., Friûl.net, http://www.friul.net/lenghe/Grafie.php
- ^ 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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