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Endangered Languages
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Some of the 33 living (spoken) languages and dialects of Italy. Source

Languages of Italy

Italian Republic, Repubblica Italiana. Population: 57,369,000 (1998 UN). Literacy rate 97% to 98%. Blind population 100,000. Deaf population 3,524,906. Deaf institutions: 80. Data accuracy estimate: B. 

The total number of languages listed for Italy is 33. Of those, all are living languages.

Diversity index 0.59. Also includes Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, English (29,000), Judeo-Tripolitanian Arabic (5,000), Judeo-Tunisian Arabic, Kabuverdianu (10,000), Maltese (28,000), Northern Kurdish (3,000), Somali (50,625), Sylheti,Chinese (40,000), people from Eritrea, the Philippines. Information mainly from R.A. Hall 1974; M. Stephens 1976; F.B. Agard 1984; B. Comrie 1987.

National or official languages:

  • Italian (Tuscan)
  • French (regional)
  • German, Standard (regional)
  • Slovenian

Spoken Living Languages

No. Name Alternate Names Description Classification Dialects
1 ALBANIAN, ARBËRESHË ARBËRESHË

[aae] 80,000 (L. Newmark) to 100,000 speakers (N. Vincent in B. Comrie 1987), out of a population of 260,000 (1976 M. Stephens). Southern; Calabria, Apulia, Basilicata, Molise, Sicily.

Speakers say the four Italian dialects are not inherently intelligible with each other. Lexical similarity 45% with Tosk Albanian. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Albanian, Tosk SICILIAN ALBANIAN

CALABRIAN ALBANIAN

CENTRAL MOUNTAIN ALBANIAN

CAMPO MARINO ALBANIAN

2 BAVARIAN BAYERISCH

BAVARIAN AUSTRIAN

[bar] 258,885 in Italy (2000 WCD). South Bavarian is in the Bavarian Alps, Tyrol, Styria, including Heanzian dialect of Burgenland, Carinthia, northern Italy, and part of Gottschee; Central Bavarian is in the Alps and Lower Austria and Salzburg; North Bavarian in the north of Regensburg, to Nuremburg and Western Bohemia, Czech Republic. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Upper German, Bavarian-Austrian CENTRAL BAVARIAN

NORTH BAVARIAN

SOUTH BAVARIAN
3 CATALAN - VALENCIAN - BALEAR -

[cat] 20,000 in Alghero (1996).  Alghero, northwest coast on Sardinia. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Ibero-Romance, East Iberian ALGHERESE
4 CIMBRIAN TZIMBRO

ZIMBRISCH

[cim] 2,230 including 500 in Lusernese Cimbrian in Trentino Alto Oolige 40 km. southeast from Trento, plus 1,500 Sette Comuni Cimbrian (40% of Roana (Rowan), 70% of Messaselva di Roana Rotzo) in Veneto around 60 km. north of Vicenza (1978 H. Kloss), and 230 or 65% of Giazza (Ijetzan) Veneto, 43 km. northeast of Verona (1992 R. Zamponi). There were 22,700 speakers in Sieben Gemainde and 12,400 in Dreizehn Gemeinde in 1854.  Northeast Italy, Sette and Tredici Comuni (Sieben and Dreizehn Gemainde) south of Trent, towns of Giazza (Glietzen, Ljetzen), Roana (Rabam), Lusern, some in Venetia Province. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Upper German, Bavarian-Austrian LUSERNESE CIMBRIAN

TREDICI COMMUNI CIMBRIAN (TAUCH)

SETTE COMUNI CIMBRIAN
5 CORSICAN CORSO

CORSU

CORSE

CORSI

[cos] Maddalena Island, northeast coast of Sardinia. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Southern, Corsican -
6 CROATIAN - [hrv] 3,500 in Italy (No. Vincent in B. Comrie 1987). Molise, southern, villages of Motemitro, San Felice del Molise, Acquaviva-Collecroce. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.] Indo-European, Slavic, South, Western CROATIAN
7 EMILIANO - ROMAGNOLO EMILIANO

EMILIAN

SAMMARINESE

[eml] 2,000,000 speakers in Emilia-Romagna (2003). Population total all countries: 2,020,112. Northwest Italy, region of Piacenza to that of Ravenna, and betwen the Po and the Adriatic and the Apennines, in the territories of Emilia and Romagna, southern Pianura Padana (all provinces), southern Lombardia (Provinces Mantova and Pavia), northern Toscana (Lunigiana), northern Marche (Province Pesaro). Also spoken in San Marino.

A structurally separate language from Italian (F.B. Agard). Related to Lombard (R.A. Hall 1974:2, S. Fleischman 1992, OIEL 3:339). [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Italian WESTERN EMILIANO

CENTRAL EMILIANO

EASTERN EMILIANO

NORTHERN ROMAGNOLO

SOUTHERN ROMAGNOLO

MANTOVANO

VOGHERESE - PAVESE

LUNIGIANO

8 FRANCO - PROVENÇAL -

[frp] 70,000 in Italy (1971 census), including 700 Faetar speakers (1995 Naomi Nagy). Northwest Italy, Aosta Valley. A small speech community also in Faeto and Celle S. Vito in the Province of Foggia in Apulia, and Guardia Piemontese in Calabria, Cosenza. Covers a huge area. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Rhaetian, Oïl, Southeastern VALLE D'AOSTA (PATOÉ VALDOTEN, VALDOTAIN, VALDOSTANO)

FAETO (FAETAR)

CELLE SAN VITO

9 FRENCH FRANÇAIS

[fra] 100,000 in Italy (M. Harris in B. Comrie 1987). Aosta Valley. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Rhaetian, Oïl, French -
10 FRIULIAN FURLAN

FRIOULAN

FRIOULIAN

FRIULIAN

FRIULANO

[Fur] 794,000 (2000). Northeast and adjacent areas, northern Friuli-Venezia-Giulia on the borders of the Austrian Province of Corinthia and the Republic of Slovenia.

Friulian, Ladin and Romansch are separate languages (R.A. Hall, Jr. 1978, personal communication). F.B. Agard considers it to be structurally closer to Italian than to Romansch (personal communication 1981). [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Rhaetian, Rhaetian EAST CENTRAL FRIULIAN

WESTERN FRIULIAN

CARNICO 

11 GERMAN, STANDARD TEDESCO

[deu] 225,000 in Italy (1987 Vincent in B. Comrie).  Northern, Trentino-Alto Adige, South Tyrol, Province of Bolzano. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Middle German, East Middle German -
12 GREEK GRECO

[ell] 20,000 in Italy (1987 Vincent in B. Comrie).  Southern, east of Reggio; Salento (Colimera, Sternatía, Zollino) and Aspromonte (Bova, Condofuri, Palizzi, Roccoforte, Roghudi). [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Greek, Attic SALENTO

ASPROMONTE

13 ITALIAN ITALIANO

[ita] 55,000,000 in Italy.Population includes some of whom are native bilinguals of Italian and regional varieties, and some of whom may use Italian as a second language. Population total all countries: 61,489,984.

Also spoken in 29 other countries, including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia (70,000 people whose mother tongue is Italian or Venetian, including 30,000 ethnic Italian and 40,000 ethnic Croats and Istrian people - 1998 Eugen Marinov), Egypt, Eritrea, France, Germany, Istrael, Libya, Liechenstein, Luxembourg, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia (4,009 in Slovenia per 1991 census)., Switzerland, Tunisia, United Arab Emrates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Vatican State.

Regional varieties coexist with the standard language; some are inherently unintelligible (Nida) to speakers of other varieties unless they have learned them. Aquilano, Molisano, and Pugliese are very different from the other Italian 'dialects'. Piemontese and Sicilian are distinct enough to be separate languages (F. B. Agard 1981, personal communication). Venetian and Lombard are also very different (Philippe Cousson 1981, personal communication). Neapolitan is reported to be unintelligible to speakers of Standard Italian. Northern varieties are closer to French and Occitan than to standard or southern varieties (Agard, N. Vincent). Lexical similarity 89% with French, 87% with Catalan, 85% with Sardinian, 82% with Spanish, 78% with Rheto-Romance, 77% with Rumanian.  Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Italo-Dalmatian [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Italo-Dalmatian TUSCAN*

ABRUZZESE

PUGLIESE

UMBRIAN

LAZIALE

CENTRAL MARCHIGIANO

CICOLANO - REATINO - AQUILANO

MOLISANO

*The official language of Italy was originally based on the Tuscan dialect.  

14 JUDEO - ITALIAN ITALKIAN

[itk] 200. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Italo-Dalmatian -
15 LADIN DOLOMITE

RHAETO-ROMANCE

[lld] 30,000 in Italy (2001 census). Ethnic population: 38,000. Autonomous province of Bolzano or Sourthern Tyrol (German Südtiro, Italian Alto Adige, in the Valleys of Gherdëina (Italian Val Gardena, German Grödnertal) and of Badia (Italian Val Badia, German Gadertal); autonomous province of Trento (Trient) or Trentino, in the Valley of Fascia (Italian Val di Fassa, German Fassatal) and in the province of Belluno in Fodom (Italian Livinallongo, German Buchenstein) and in Anpezo (Italian Ampezzo, around Cortina d'Ampezzo). Also spoken in USA.

Friulian, Ladin (in Italy), and Romansch (in Switzerland) are separate languages (R. A. Hall, Jr. 1978, personal communication). The dialect of Val di Fassa is taught in schools. Distinct from Ladino (Dzhudezmo, Judeo-Spanish). [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Rhaetian, Rhaetian ATESINO

CADORINO

NONES (NONES BLOT, NONESH, PARLATA TRENTINA NONESE)

GARDENA (GARDENESE, GRÜDNO)

FASSANO

BADIOTTO

MAREBBANO

LIVINALLESE

AMPEZZANO 

16 LIGURIAN LÍGURU

LIGURE

[lij] 1,915,749 in Italy (2000 WCD). Population total all countries 1,920,849. Liguria, northern Italy; east and west of Genoa along the Riviera and mountain hinterland, St. Pietro and St. Antioch, islands off southwest coast of Sardinia, cities of Carloforte and Calasetta in Sardinia. Also spoken in France, Monaco.

Ligurian is closer to Piemontese, Lombard, and French than to Standard Italian[More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Italian GENOESE (GENOAN, GENOVESE)
17 LOMBARD LOMBARDO

[lmo] 8,830,855 in Italy (2000 WCD). Population total all countries 9,133,855. Milan, Lombardy, 3 valleys of Graubünden (Val Mesolcina, Val Bregaglia, Val Poschiavo), northern Italy. Western Lombard varieties also in Sicily. Ticino is in Switzerland. Also spoken in Switzerland, USA.

A group of dialects, some of which may be separate languages. Western Lombard dialects (of Ticino and Graubnnden) are inherently intelligible to each other's speakers. Speakers in more conservative valleys may have to use some kind of 'standard' dialect to communicate with speakers of other dialects of Lombard.

Very different from Standard Italian. Speakers may all be adequately bilingual in Standard Italian. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Italian MILANESE

EASTERN LOMBARD

WESTERN LOMBARD (PIAZZA ARMERINA, NOVARA, NICOSIA, SAN FRATELLO)

ALPINE LOMBARD

NOVARESE LOMBARD

TRENTINO WESTERN

LATIN FIAMAZZO

LATIN ANAUNICO

BERGAMASCO

TICINESE (TICINO)

18 MÓCHENO -

[mhn] 1,900 (1992 Raoul Zamponi). Population includes 400 Fierozzo, 1,000 Palú, 460 Gereut, Valle del Fersina (Trentino).

Speakers can partially understand Bavarian, Cimbrian, or Standard German. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Upper German, Bavarian-Austrian FIEROZZO (FLORUTZ)

PALÚ (PALAI)

FRASSILONGO (GEREUT)

19 NAPOLETANO - CALABRESE NEAPOLITAN - CALABRESE

[nap] 7,047,399 (1976).  Campania and Calabria provinces, southern Italy.

Limited inherent intelligibility of Standard Italian. Neapolitan and Calabrese are reported to be very different from each other. Southern Calabrian is reported to be a dialect of Sicilian. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Italo-Dalmatian NAPOLETANO (NEAPOLITAN, TIRRENIC)

NORTHERN CALABRESE-LUCANO (LUCANIAN, BASILICATAN)

20 PIEMONTESE PIEMONTÈIS

PIEDMONTESE

[pms] 3,106,620 in Italy (2000 WCD). Northwest Italy, Piedmont, except for the Provençal- and Franco-Provençal-speaking Alpine valleys. Also spoken in Australia, USA.

Distinct enough from Standard Italian to be considered a separate language. Considerable French influence. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Italian  HIGH PIEMONTESE

LOW PIEMONTESE 

21 PROVENÇAL PROVENZALE

[prv] 100,000 in Italy (1990 P. Blanchet). Upper valleys of the Italian Piedmont (Val Mairo, Val Varacho, Val d'Esturo, Entraigas, Limoun, Vinai, Pignerol, Sestriero. Valsusa), Guardia Piemonese in Calabria. 

Bilingualism in Piedmontese, Italian. All ages. It is widely spoken. Bible portions 1824-1975. See main entry under France.   

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Ibero-Romance, Oc.  TRANSALPIN
22 ROMANI, BALKAN -

[rmn] 5,000 Arlija in Italy. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Balkan  ARLIJA (ERLI)
23 ROMANI, SINTE -

[rmo] 14,000 in Italy(1980). Population includes 10,000 Manouche, 4,000 Slovenian-Croatian.  North Italy. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Northern PIEDMONT SINTÍ

SLOVENIAN-CROATIAN

MANOUCHE

24 ROMANI, VLAX -

[rmy] 4,000 in Italy. Population includes 1,000 to 3,000 Kalderash, 1,000 Lovari. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Vlax.  KALDERASH

LOVARI

25 SARDINIAN, CAMPIDANESE SARDU

CAMPIDANESE

CAMPIDESE

SOUTH SARDINIAN

[sro] 345,180 (2000 WCD). Southern Sardinia.

Cagliaritan is the dialect of Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. Campidanese is quite distinct from the other Sardinian languages. Lexical similarity 62% between Cagliare and Standard Italian, 73% with Logudorese, 66% with Gallurese. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Southern, Sardinian  CAGLIARE (CAGLIARI CAGLIARITAN)

ARBORENSE

SUB-BARBARICINO

WESTERN CAMPIDENESE

CENTRAL CAMPIDANESE

OGLIASTRINO

SULCITANO

MERIDIONALE

SARRABENSE

26 SARDINIAN, GALLURESE NORTHEASTERN SARDINIAN

GALLURESE

[sdn] Gallurese is in northeastern Sardinia.

Lexical similarity 83% with Standard Italian, 81% with Sassarese, 70% with Logudorese, 66% with Cagliare. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Southern, Sardinian  -
27 SARDINIAN, LOGUDORESE SARD

SARDARESE

LOGUDORESE

CENTRAL SARDINIAN

[src] 1,500,000 (1977 M. Ibba, Rutgers University). Population includes all Sardinian languages. Central Sardinia.

No one form of Sardinian is selected as standard for literary purposes. Logudorese is quite different from other Sardinian varieties. Lexical similarity 68% with Standard Italian, 73% with Sassarese and Cagliare, 70% with Gallurese. 'Sardinian' has 85% lexical similarity with Italian, 80% with French, 78% with Portuguese, 76% with Spanish, 74% with Rumanian and Rheto-Romance. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Southern, Sardinian NUORESE

NORTHERN LOGUDORESE

BARBARICINO

SOUTHWESTERN LOGUDORESE

28 SARDINIAN, SASSARESE NORTHWESTERN SARDINIAN

SASSARESE

[sdc] Northwestern Sardinia.

Lexical similarity 81% with Gallurese, 76% with Standard Italian. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Southern, Sardinian  -
29 SICILIAN CALABRO - SICILIAN

[scn] 4,832,520  (2000 WCD). Sicily, an island off the southern mainland.

Distinct enough from Standard Italian to be considered a separate language. Pugliese (see Italian) and Southern Calabrese are reported to be dialects of Sicilian. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Italo-Dalmatian WESTERN SICILIAN (PALERMO, TRAPANI, CENTRAL-WESTERN AGRIGENTINO)

CENTRAL METAFONETICA

SOUTHEAST METAFONETICA

EASTERN NONMETAFONETICA

MESSINESE

ISOLE EOLIE

PANTESCO

SOUTHERN CALABRO

30 SLOVENIAN SLOVENE

[slv] 100,000 in Italy (N. Vincent in B. Comrie 1987). The provinces of Trieste and Gorizia in northeast near Slovenia border. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Slavic, South, Western PRIMORSKI

CIVIDALE

RESIA

31 VENETIAN VENETO

VENET

VENEZIAN

[vec] 2,180,387 in Italy (2000 WCD). Northern Italy, city of Venice, area of the Tre Venezie; Venezia Eugànea westward to Verona, southward to the Po, and eastward to the border of the Fruili; Venezia Tridentina, in the Adige valley and neighboring mountain regions to the north of Trent; and Venezia Giulia, east of the Friuli, and including Trieste. Bisiacco is spoken in Gorizia Province. Also spoken in Croatia, Slovenia.

Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Iberian, Gallo-Romance, Gallo-Italian ISTRIAN (ISTRO-VENETIAN)

TRIESTINO

VENETIAN PROPER

BISIACCO

32 WALSER WALSCHER

[wae] 3,400 in Italy (1978 Fazzini).  Valle d'Aosta: Val Lesa (Gressoney, Issime, Gaby); Piemonte: Valsesie (Alagna, Rima S. Siuseppe, Rimelle), Novara: Valle Anzacxa (Macugnage); Val Formazza (Formazza, Pomatt). 9 communities in Italy, and 4 former ones. [More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Indo-European, Germanic, West, High German, German, Upper German, Allemannic -
 

Deaf Sign Languages

33 ITALIAN SIGN LANGUAGE LINGUA ITALIANA DEI SEGNI

LIS

[ise] Not intelligible with American Sign Language. Regional differences, but signers from different regions seem to communicate fluently.[More information is available at ethnologue.com site.]

Deaf sign language  -
Source:
  • Ethnologue Report for Italy http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=IT

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