If you have never been to Italy you might not know that if we change the city or region we don’t sound all exactly the same because we have many dialects.
Yes, if you go to Rome and you listen carefully to people on the streets you might not recognize many words because of their beautiful “declinations” of the Italian language.
Dialects are not written languages but they are used a lot during informal chats between people coming from the same city. Sometimes it happens that Italians from different regions can’t understand each other at all, but don’t worry, everyone in Italy knows how to master the “official” Italian language!
Perhaps you don’t know that the Italian language as you know it is based on the literary florentine used around 1300. So, Florence is the best city to learn Italian, isn’t it? 😉
Let’s see some of the most famous Italian dialects!
In Tuscany (especially in Florence) we are very famous because we usually aspirate the “c”’s. Try to say “La Coca Cola con la cannuccia corta corta” without any “c”, it’s quite challenging! We also shorten the infinite of verbs, for example, “andare” becomes “anda’”.
Watch this funny video to understand better the differences between Tuscan cities.
The Neapolitan is recognized by UNESCO as a real language and you can hear it in the Naples’ area and in the Campania region. It’s very difficult to understand and it differs from the Italian language because of its Greek origins.
If you want to learn a few words, don’t miss this video with the protagonists of the Italian tv series “Gomorra”.
Sicily is a fantastic island full of traditions and habits which speaks a language made of many influences. Due to its strategic location Latins, Greeks, Arabians, and many more ancient civilizations generated a mixed language that nowadays is still studied.
Find the differences between Italian and Sicilian, we bet that you’ll find some.
Also in the north of Italy, there are many dialects which can be impossible to understand and one of them is the Venetian for sure! If you listen carefully you’ll discover that often the vowels are cut off. “Cane” became “can” or “pane” become “pan”.
If you’re curious about some Venetian common sayings you should watch this video (FYI: lots of swear words in it).
The Ligurian dialect is spoken in the region of Liguria and it’s one of the most recognizable dialects of the north of Italy. There are many variations of this dialect but the most important is the one spoken in Genova for sure. Did you know that “Genova” is also called “Zena”?
You should listen to the songs of Fabrizio De Andrè, a famous Genoese songwriter that used the dialect in many of his songs.
In the Sardinia island, the spoken language is independent from the other neolatin languages spoken in Italy and it is the most conservative between all the Latin derived languages. This makes the Sardinian a real language!
Did you know that in the city of Alghero (northwest of Sardinia) you can hear an archaic variation of the Catalan? That’s because Spanish immigration occurred in late 1300.
Want to hear some “Sardo”? Watch this video!
If you go to Puglia to discover its beaches or the fantastic food you’ll hear for sure its dialect that is often incomprehensible to most Italians. Dialects of Puglia are divisible in two, and both of them originate from Latin. They mostly come from the city of Bari and the Salento area. Try to say “Salento: lu’ sole, lu’ mare, lu’ ientu”, this means “Salento: the sun, the sea, the wind” and it’s a very common quote related to the Salento area.
A funny Italian comedian can show you how different the Apulian dialects are.
Map of Italian dialects
Are you curious about the other dialects and languages of Italy? Let’s see this map together, can you count them all?
Source: Sima Brankov
Do you have a favorite Italian dialect?
You can choose yours through this funny play by Enrico Brignano, an Italian comedian.