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Italian and dialects of Italy

Notes from a presentation given to the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society on March 23rd 2003,
by Anna De Fina, Visiting Assistant Professor, Italian Department, Georgetown University.

Comparison of words in Latin and Italian dialects

Latin Florentine Central-Southern Dialects Northern Dialects English
gentem gente ient sent people
plangere piangere chiagn pianze cry
calidus caldo cauro caud hot

Map of Italian Dialects
Map of Italian Dialects

Regional words for grembiule o grembiale (apron)
Faudale, Piemonte
Scossale, Liguria
Bigarolo, Lombardia
Traversa, Veneto
Grombale, Trentino
Sinale, zinale, Umbria, Lazio, Marche
Parunnanza, Lazio
Parninza, Abruzzo
Mantile, Abruzzo, Molise, Salento, Sicilia
Mantesino, vantesino,Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Sicilia
Devantale, Sardegna.


The same proverb in different dialects
(From Sabatini, F. (1978) La lingua e il nostro mondo. Torino: Loescher.)

"Meglio un uovo oggi che la gallina domani" = better an egg today than a hen tomorrow

friulano:   mior un of ui che une gialine doman.
piemontese:  a l'e mej 'n euv ancheuj che na galin-a doman.
emiliano: 1'e mei un ov incu che la galeina edmeng.
toscano: megl'un ovo oggi he una gallina domani.
corso: medu ogji I'ou che dumane a jadina.
romanesco: mejjo 1'ovo oggi ch'a gallina domani.
campano: meglie ll'uove ogge c'a jalline rimane.
salentino: megghiu I'd osce cca la caddina crai.
calabrese: miegliu oje 1'uovu ca dumani a gaddina.
siciliano: megghiu oji 1'ovu ca rumani a jaddina.
sardo: menzus unu ou oje chi no una pudda crasa.

Italian and dialects at different points in time
From Beccaria, G. L.(1988b) Italiano antico e nuovo. Milano: Garzanti

1974 Research
Table1: Use of dialect and Italian (in percent)

1974 Usually dialect Usually Italian Alternate between them
At home 51.3 25 23.7
Outside 43.2 35.7 22.1


1982 Research
Table2: Use of dialect and Italian (in percent)

1982 Usually dialect Usually Italian Alternate between them
At home 46.1 29.4 23.9
Outside 36.1 44.9 19

Table 3: Regions where dialect is spoken the most

1982 Home Outside
1 Veneto and Friuli Sardegna
2 Sicilia (73.1%) Veneto and Friuli
3 Campania and Abruzzi (58.7%) Campania and Abruzzi 
4 Sardegna (54.2%) Sicilia


Results from the Doxa Polls (1996) .(Villarini, 1999, in De Mauro, T. & M. Vedovelli, Dante, il gendarme e la bolletta, p. 147. Milano: Laterza)


Table 4: Use of dialect and Italian in all contexts (1996)

Only Dialect 14%
Only Italian 24%
Alternates between them 62%