Italian regional dialects and accents

Italian dialects

Discovering the seven most popular Italian dialects

Italy is a country with a rich linguistic and cultural heritage, and it is home to a variety of regional dialects and accents. In fact, there are more than 30 recognized dialects spoken throughout Italy, each with their own unique characteristics and features.

Some of the most notable Italian dialects include:

  • Sicilian: spoken on the island of Sicily, this dialect is known for its melodic and expressive tones.
  • Neapolitan: spoken in the Naples region, this dialect is characterized by its sing-song rhythm and use of contractions.
  • Tuscan: spoken in Tuscany, this dialect is considered the “standard” Italian dialect and is known for its clear and simple pronunciation.
  • Venetian: spoken in the Veneto region, this dialect is known for its heavy use of local idioms and expressions.
  • Lombard: spoken in Lombardy, this dialect is known for its nasal intonation and use of double consonants.
  • Sardinian: spoken on the island of Sardinia, this dialect is considered the closest living language to Latin and is known for its distinct grammatical structure.
  • Roman dialect, also known as Romanesco, is a regional dialect spoken in and around the city of Rome, Italy.

In addition to these dialects, there are also numerous regional accents and variations of the Italian language. For example, the Florentine accent is known for its elongated vowels and emphasis on the letter “o,” while the Roman accent is known for its rapid-fire delivery and use of slang.

Italian dialects Sicilian

Sicilian

Sicilian is a regional dialect spoken on the island of Sicily, which is located off the southern coast of Italy. It is considered one of the most distinctive and expressive dialects in Italy, and it has been shaped by centuries of cultural and linguistic influences from various civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Normans.

Sicilian is a Romance language and has its own unique grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation that distinguish it from standard Italian. Some notable features of Sicilian include:

  • The use of a variety of vowel sounds that are not present in standard Italian, such as “u” pronounced as “i” (e.g., “casa” becomes “cisi”).
  • The use of double consonants, such as “bb,” “dd,” “ff,” and “rr,” which are pronounced with a stronger emphasis than in standard Italian.
  • The use of a variety of local idioms and expressions, such as “figghiu di puttana” (son of a bitch) and “scazzottata” (a fistfight).
  • The tendency to replace the letter “g” with the letter “j,” such as “giardinu” (garden) becoming “jardinu.”

Despite being a regional dialect, Sicilian has a rich literary tradition, and many writers have written in Sicilian, including Giovanni Verga, Luigi Pirandello, and Andrea Camilleri.

Italian dialects Neapolitan

Neapolitan

Neapolitan is a regional dialect spoken in the Campania region of southern Italy, particularly in the city of Naples. Like Sicilian, it is a Romance language that has been shaped by centuries of cultural and linguistic influences from various civilizations, including the Greeks, Romans, Normans, and Spanish.

Some prominent features of Neapolitan include:

  • The use of a sing-song rhythm and intonation, which gives it a distinctive musical quality.
  • The use of contractions, such as “n’appen” (neanche un) and “‘stu” (questo), which are not used in standard Italian.
  • The pronunciation of “c” and “g” sounds as “ch” and “j” respectively, such as “chiù” (più) and “juorno” (giorno).
  • The use of local idioms and expressions, such as “faccia gialla” (yellow face) to describe someone who is jealous or envious.
  • The use of a wide variety of dialectal words, many of which are derived from Greek or Arabic.

Despite being a regional dialect, Neapolitan has a rich literary tradition, and many writers and poets have written in Neapolitan, including Eduardo De Filippo, Salvatore Di Giacomo, and Raffaele Viviani. In addition, Neapolitan has also influenced popular music in Italy, with many songs in the Neapolitan language becoming classics of Italian music, such as “O Sole Mio” and “Santa Lucia”.

Italian dialects Tuscan

Tuscan

Tuscan is a regional dialect spoken in Tuscany, a region located in central Italy. It is considered the “standard” Italian dialect and is known for its clear and simple pronunciation, as well as its use of vowel sounds that are more similar to Latin than other dialects.

Some remarkable features of Tuscan include:

  • The use of “s” sounds in place of “z” sounds, such as “rosa” (rose) being pronounced as “roza”.
  • The use of a strong “r” sound, which is pronounced with the tongue rolled or tapped against the roof of the mouth.
  • The use of vowel sounds that are more similar to Latin than other dialects, such as “o” and “e” being pronounced as “oh” and “eh” respectively.
  • The use of a distinctive stress pattern, which places emphasis on the second-to-last syllable of a word.

Tuscan has had a significant influence on the Italian language and culture, and it is the dialect that is most commonly used in literature, art, and music. Many famous Italian writers, such as Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, wrote in Tuscan, and it is also the dialect that was chosen as the basis for the modern Italian language. As a result, learning Tuscan is often considered essential for anyone who wants to study Italian language and culture.

Venetian_dialect

Venetian

Venetian is a regional dialect spoken in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy, particularly in the city of Venice. It is a Romance language that has been heavily influenced by the surrounding languages, including Italian, German, and Slavic languages.

Some noteworthy features of Venetian include:

  • The use of “c” and “g” sounds that are pronounced as “ch” and “gh” respectively, such as “ciao” (hello) being pronounced as “chao” and “ghiaia” (gravel) being pronounced as “gheaia.”
  • The use of a variety of vowel sounds, which are pronounced differently than in standard Italian, such as “a” being pronounced as “o” and “e” being pronounced as “ie.”
  • The use of contractions, such as “n” (non) and “me” (mi), which are not used in standard Italian.
  • The use of local idioms and expressions, such as “essar in gheo” (to be in trouble) and “far sentar la presenza” (to make oneself known).
    Venetian has a rich literary tradition, and many writers and poets have written in Venetian, including Carlo Goldoni, Giuseppe Giusti, and Gabriele

D’Annunzio. In addition, Venetian has also influenced the art and music of the region, particularly in the traditional folk songs and dances, such as the famous tarantella. However, despite its cultural significance, Venetian is not widely spoken outside of the Veneto region and is considered a minority dialect.

Italian dialects Lombard

Lombard

Lombard is a regional dialect spoken in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, including the cities of Milan and Bergamo. It is a Romance language that has been heavily influenced by the surrounding languages, including Italian, German, and Celtic languages.

Some relevant features of Lombard include:

  • The use of a guttural “r” sound, which is pronounced with a slight vibration in the throat.
  • The use of “ch” and “gh” sounds that are pronounced similarly to Venetian, as described above.
  • The use of a variety of vowel sounds, which are pronounced differently than in standard Italian, such as “a” being pronounced as “e” and “e” being pronounced as “i”.
  • The use of local idioms and expressions, such as “fare la bamba” (to make a scene) and “andare in vacca” (to fail).

Lombard has a rich literary tradition, and many writers and poets have written in Lombard, including Carlo Porta and Giovanni Testori. Lombard has also influenced the art and music of the region, particularly in traditional folk songs and dances, such as the famous “La Bella Gigogin” dance. However, like Venetian, Lombard is not widely spoken outside of the Lombardy region and is considered a minority dialect.

Italian dialects Sardinian

Sardinian

Sardinian is considered a Romance language and is closely related to the ancient Latin language. It is spoken on the island of Sardinia, located in the Mediterranean Sea.

Some striking features of Sardinian include:

  • The use of “tz” and “c” sounds that are pronounced similarly to the “ch” sound in English, such as “tzaudigu” (noisy) being pronounced as “chaudigu” and “casa” (house) being pronounced as “chasa”.
  • The use of a variety of vowel sounds, including a nasalized “ã” sound and an “e” sound that is pronounced as “è”.
  • The use of a distinctive stress pattern, which places emphasis on the final syllable of a word.

Sardinian has a rich literary tradition, and many writers and poets have written in Sardinian, including Grazia Deledda, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1926. The language has also influenced the art and music of the region, particularly in traditional folk songs and dances, such as the “Ballu tundu” dance. However, despite its cultural significance, Sardinian is not widely spoken outside of Sardinia and is considered a minority dialect.

Italian dialects Sicilian roman

Roman

Roman dialect, also known as Romanesco, is a regional dialect spoken in and around the city of Rome, Italy. It is a Romance language that has been heavily influenced by the surrounding languages, including Italian, Latin, and ancient Roman dialects.

Some important features of Roman dialect include:

  • The use of a guttural “r” sound, which is pronounced with a slight vibration in the throat.
  • The use of a variety of vowel sounds, including an “o” sound that is pronounced as “u” and an “e” sound that is pronounced as “ie”.
  • The use of local idioms and expressions, such as “er cacio e pepe” (a pasta dish with cheese and black pepper) and “er carciofo romanesco” (a type of artichoke native to Rome).

Roman dialect has a rich literary and theatrical tradition, and many writers and playwrights have written in Romanesco, including Trilussa, who is known for his poetry in the Roman dialect. Romanesco has also influenced the art and music of the region, particularly in traditional folk songs and dances, such as the “Saltarello” dance. However, like many other regional dialects in Italy, Romanesco is not widely spoken outside of its native region and is considered a minority dialect.

I hope you have enjoyed the article, there are many dialects in Italy, but you will be happy to know everyone speaks standard Italian. So, if you are thinking to get a grasp or improve your Italian, get in touch and we’ll guide you every step of the way in this amazing learning journey. Stay tuned by signing up to our newsletter here.