Non-Italian Dialects in Italy

By | February 4, 2022

The numerical entity of Italians who usually speak a non-Italian language or dialect is shown in the following table, which refers to 1921, the date of the last survey (not having performed a special survey in this regard during the census carried out in 1931).

The total of about 800,000 people represents a little less than 21 per thousand of the population. This percentage, which refers to 1921, should have dropped somewhat in the following decade; it is therefore legitimate to state that 98% of Italian citizens habitually speak the Italian language or dialect; of the alloglots, some can also speak Italian (in 1921 more than about two thirds of the Serbo-Croats of Istria, one sixth of Slovenes, just six per cent of South Tyrolean Germans). The Slovenes form a compact nucleus in eastern Friuli and northeastern Istria. About 34,000, mostly bilingual, were included within the Kingdom’s pre-World War boundaries; the rest in the provinces of Gorizia, Trieste, Pola and Fiume.

The most important nucleus of Germans is that formed by the Altoatesini (upper Adige basin upstream of the Salorno strait, which however also includes mixed-language areas and Ladin areas); there, in 1921, about 190,000 inhabitants were registered. usually speaking German. Other small groups are found in Trentino (Anterivo and Trodena; Senale, Lauregno, Proves; Fierozzo, Palù, etc .; 4000 people in all). Another small German nucleus is constituted by the Val Canale (part of the municipality of Camporosso, Malborghetto, Tarvisio and nearby towns; in all 4100 inhabitants). Within the ancient borders, the most notable nuclei are those scattered around the slopes of Monte Rosa (Macugnaga and Formazza; Alagna, Rima and Rimella; Gressoney and Issime; just over 400 people). Other small nuclei are found in the Carnic Alps (Sauris and Timau; Sappada); in the Seven Municipalities of Vicenza and in the Thirteen Municipalities of Verona, the German language was quickly abandoned; in those no more than 45 families (190 people) of the municipality of Roana still spoke German habitually in 1921, in these only the small group of the locality of Giazza remained (125 families; 711 inhab.).

The Serbo-Croats are grouped in Istria, especially in the municipalities of Buzet, Rozzo, Motovun, Vrsar, Parenzo, Visignana, Labin, Tinjan, Bogliuno, Fianona, Žminj, Pazin, Barbana d’Istria, Volosca. Lovran, etc .; in a part of the island of Cres in the island of Lastovo and in three localities in the surroundings of Zadar. A Serbo-Croatian island is located in Molise, consisting of the three finitime towns of San Felice Slavo, Acquaviva Collecroce and Montemitro, whose inhabitants are however bilingual.

The French nucleus is made up of about seventy Valle d’Aosta municipalities, in most of which the Franco-Provençal language is predominantly absolute, from the Waldensian municipalities of the Pellice and Chisone valleys, from 17 municipalities of the Val di Susa and from the municipality of Casteldelfino in the Saluzzo area. The Franco-Provençal and Provençal settlements of southern Italy (Faeto and Celle nel Foggiano; Guardia Piemontese and other Waldensian settlements in Calabria) are not registered in the ulficial statistics.

For the list of places where Albanian and Greek are spoken, see to the Albanian voices of Italy and the Greeks of Italy. The Albanian language is also preserved in the town of Borgo Erizzo near Zara.

Catalan is spoken in the municipality of Alghero in Sardinia.

Finally, Romanian is spoken by a small Istrian group, consisting of 7 localities (Lettai, Gradigne, Valdarsa, Villanova, Grobenico, Briani, Sucodru) in the municipality of Valdarsa, and one (Seiane) in the municipality of Castelnuovo d’Istria.

Franco-Provençal and Provençal dialects. – In the Valle d’Aosta, in the upper sections of the valleys of the northern Stura, the Orco, the Dora Riparia, in the Lanzo valleys, Franco-Provençal dialects are spoken (see Franco-Provençal). The dialects of the upper valleys of the westernmost part of the province of Turin and of those of the province of Cuneo are of the Provencal type (see Provence: Dialects). Even the Waldensian dialects, which seem to be directly imported from beyond the Alps, are Provençal.

The dialect of Faeto and Celle San Vito (Foggia) is Franco-Provençal, that of Guardia Piemontese is Provençal.

The French language is used in the province of Aosta and, much less, in the ancient districts of Pinerolo and Susa; on the other hand, it is very little known in the Provencal and Franco-Provençal linguistic islands of southern Italy.

Non-Italian Dialects in Italy