Piedmontese language

Piedmontese language

region=northwest Italy, Piedmont

Piedmontese (in Piedmontese: "Piemontèis") is a Romance language spoken by over 2 million people in Piedmont, northwest Italy. It is geographically and linguistically included in the Northern Italian group (with Lombard, Emiliano-Romagnolo, Ligurian, and Venetian). It is part of the wider western group of Romance languages, including French, Occitan, and Catalan.

Many European and North American linguists (e. g., Einar Haugen, Gianrenzo P. Clivio, Hans Göbl, Helmut Lüdtke, George Bossong, Klaus Bochmann, Karl Gebhardt, and Guiu Sobiela Caanitz) acknowledge Piedmontese as an independent language, though in Italy it is often still considered a dialect. Today it has a certain official status in the Piedmont region of Italy.

Piedmontese was the first language of emigrants who, in the period from 1850 to 1950, left Piedmont for countries such as France, Argentina, and Uruguay.


The first documents in the Piedmontese language were written in the 12th century, the "sermones subalpini", when it was extremely close to Occitan. Literary Piedmontese developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, but it did not gain literary esteem comparable to that of French or Italian, other languages used in Piedmont. Nevertheless, literature in Piedmontese has never ceased to be produced: it includes poetry, theatre pieces, novels, and scientific work.Fact|date=November 2007


Some of the most relevant characteristics of the Piedmontese language are:

# The presence of verbal pronouns, which give a Piedmontese phrase the following form: (subject) + verbal pronoun + verb, as in "(mi) i von" [I go] . Verbal pronouns are absent only in the imperative form and in the “Piedmontese interrogative form”.
# The agglutinating form of verbal pronouns, which can be connected to dative and locative particles ("a-i é" [there is] , "i-j diso" [I say to him] ).
# The interrogative form, which adds an enclitic interrogative particle at the end of the verbal form ("Veus-to?" [Do you want to…] )
# The absence of ordinal numerals, starting from the seventh place on (so that seventh will be "Col che a fà set" [The one which makes seven] ).
# The co-presence of three affirmative interjections (that is, three ways to say yes): "Si, sè" (from the Latin form "sic est", as in Italian); "É" (from the Latin form "est", as in Brazilian Portuguese); "Òj" (from the Latin form "hoc est" as in Occitan, or maybe "illud est", as in Franco-Provençal and French).
# The absence of the voiceless postalveolar fricative IPA|/ʃ/ (as in "sheep"), for which an alveolar S sound (as in "sun") is usually substituted.
# The presence of a S-C combination (pronounced as you would in "this-church").
# The presence of a velar nasal N-sound (pronounced as the gerundive termination in "going"), which usually precedes a vowel, as in "lun-a" [moon] .
# The presence of the third piedmontese vowel Ë, which is read as a very short sound (somehow close to the half-mute sound in "sir").
# The absence of the phonological alternation that exists in Italian between short (single) and long (double) consonants, for example, it. "fata" [fairy] and "fatta" [done] .
# The existence of a prosthetic Ë sound, that is interposed when two consonantal sounds collide and are hard to pronounce. So "stèila" [star] becomes "set ëstèile" [seven stars] .

Piedmontese has a number of dialects that may vary from its basic "koiné" to quite a large extent. Variations include not only departures from the literary grammar, but also a wide variety in dictionary entries, as different regions maintain words of Frankish or Lombard origin. Words imported from various languages, including North African languages, are also present, while more recent imports tend to come from France.

A variety of Piedmontese was Judeo-Piedmontese, a dialect spoken by the Piedmontese Jews until the Second World War.

Current status

As elsewhere in Italy, Italian dominates everyday communication and is spoken to a far greater extent by the population than Piedmontese. Usage of the language has been discouraged both by the Kingdom of Italy and by the Italian Republic, officially (and ironically) to prevent discrimination against migrants from other regions of Italy, who moved in large numbers to Turin in particular [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-26979/Italy "Encyclopaedia Britannica"'s entry for Italy - internal migration patterns] ] .

In 2004, Piedmontese was recognised as Piedmont's regional language by the regional parliament [http://www.consiglioregionale.piemonte.it/mzodgint/jsp/AttoSelezionato.jsp?ATTO=61118 Motion 1118 in the Piedmontese Regional Parliament, "Approvazione da parte del Senato del Disegno di Legge che tutela le minoranze linguistiche sul territorio nazionale - Approfondimenti", approved unanimously on 15 December 1999"] ] [http://www.gioventurapiemonteisa.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/odg1118.pdf Text of motion 1118 in the Piedmontese Regional Parliament, "Consiglio Regionale del Piemonte, Ordine del Giorno 1118"] ] "Piemontèis d'amblé - Avviamento Modulare alla conoscenza della Lingua piemontese"; R. Capello, C. Comòli, M.M. Sánchez Martínez, R.J.M. Nové; Regione Piemonte/Gioventura Piemontèisa; Turin, 2001] ] , although the Italian government has not yet recognised it as such. In theory it is now supposed to be taught to children in school, but this is happening only to a limited extent.

The last decade has seen the publication of learning materials for schoolchildren, as well as general-public magazines. Courses for people already outside the education system have also been developed. In spite of these advances, the current state of Piedmontese is quite grave, as over the last 150 years the number of people with a written active knowledge of the language has shrunk to about 2% of native speakers, according to a recent survey" [http://www.gruppi.consiglioregionale.piemonte.it/mistoriformisti/piemontese.htm Knowledge and Usage of the Piedmontese Language in Turin and its Province] ", carried out by "Euromarket", a Turin-based market research company on behalf of the "Riformisti per l'Ulivo" party in the Piedmontese Regional Parliament in 2003 languageicon|it|Italian.] . On the other hand, the same survey showed Piedmontese is still spoken by over half the population, alongside Italian. Authoritative sources confirm this result, putting the figure between 2 million (AssimilF. Rubat Borel, M. Tosco, V. Bertolino. "Il Piemontese in Tasca", a Piedmontese basic language course and conversation guide, published by Assimil Italia (the Italian branch of "Assimil", the leading French producer of language courses) in 2006. ISBN 88-86968-54-X. "http://www.assimil.it"] , IRES PiemonteE. Allasino, C. Ferrer, E. Scamuzzi, T. Telmon "Le Lingue del Piemonte", research published in October 2007 by Istituto di Ricerche Economiche e Sociali, a public economic and social research organisation. Available under: "http://www.ires.piemonte.it/quaderni.html"] ) and 3 million speakers (Ethnologue [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=pms Ethnologue report for Piemontese] ] ) out of a population of 4.2 million people. Efforts to make it one of the official languages of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics were unsuccessful.

Links and References

External links

*roa icon [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/piemontviv Piemont Viv] A Piedmontese mailing-list used by native speakers worldwide to meet and socialize
*roa icon it icon en icon [http://xoomer.virgilio.it/guidematt Website in Piedmontese] edited by Guido Dematteis with information on the language, poetry, scientific physics papers, short stories, and the novel "The King of Elfland's Daughter" by Lord Dunsany translated into Piedmontese
*roa icon [http://xoomer.virgilio.it/nmndem/piem3.html The Piedmontese Language] : History, Grammar, Syntax, Vocabulary
*roa icon it icon en icon [http://bertola.eu/piemonteis/?_l=en A short guide to Piemonteis] : Links and a 7-page brief on the main features of the language
*roa icon it icon en icon fr icon es icon [http://www.nostereis.org/ Nostereis.org/] Online Piedmontese Course for Italian, French, English, and Spanish speakers with drills and tests
*roa iconit icon [http://www.arbut.net Arbut - Ël piemontèis a scòla] Program for Teaching Piedmontese in Schools

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