Neapolitan language

Neapolitan language

speakers=7.5 million

Neapolitan (autonym: "napulitano"; _it. napoletano) is the name given to the varied Italo-Western group of dialects of southern Italy or, more specifically, the language of the city and region of Naples, Campania (Neapolitan: Nàpule, Italian: Napoli). According to Ethnologue, the Neapolitan dialects are grouped as a separate Romance language called "Napoletano-Calabrese" [ [ Ethnologue Napoletano-Calabrese] ] , and are spoken throughout most of southern continental Italy, including the Gaeta and Sora districts of southern Lazio, the southern part of Marche and Abruzzo, Molise, Basilicata, northern Calabria, and northern and central Apulia. As of 1976, there were 7,047,399 theoretical native speakers of this group of dialects. [ [ Ethnologue Napoletano-Calabrese] ]


Neapolitan, as the varied Italo-Western group of dialects, is distributed throughout most of continental southern Italy, historically united during the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The many dialects of this language group include Neapolitan proper (as spoken in and around Naples, in the Caserta area, Salerno, and in southern Latium), "Irpino", "Cilentano", "Ascolano", "Teramano", "Abruzzese Orientale Adriatico", "Abruzzese Occidentale", "Molisano", "Dauno-Appenninico", "Garganico", "Apulo-Barese", "Lucano", and Cosentino. The dialects are part of a strong and varied continuum, so the various dialects in Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Apulia, Lucania and Calabria can typically be recognizable as regional dialects. Many would argue that the term "Neapolitan" should only be used for the dialect of Naples and its vicinity. In eastern Abruzzo and southern Lazio, the dialects give way to Italian dialects such as Romanesco. In central Calabria and southern Puglia, the dialects give way to Sicilian dialects. Neapolitan has also had a significant influence on the intonation of Rioplatense Spanish, spoken mainly in the Buenos Aires region of Argentina. [;jsessionid=43F6CF4CEB6223AA2ED40C7926999F70.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=236145]

The Language

Neapolitan is generally considered an Italo-Dalmatian, although some postulate a "southern" Romance classification. There are notable differences among the various dialects, but they are all generally mutually intelligible. The language as a whole has often fallen victim of its status as a "language without prestige".

Standard Italian and Neapolitan are generally mutually comprehensible, though with notable grammatical differences such as nouns in the neuter form and unique plural formation. Its evolution has been similar to that of Italian and other Romance languages from their roots in Vulgar Latin. It has also developed with a pre-Latin Oscan influence, which is noticeable in the pronunciation of the "d" sound as an "r" sound (rhotacism), but only when "d" is at the beginning of a word, or between two vowels (e.g.- "doje" or "duje" (two, respectively feminine and masculine form), pronounced, and often spelled, as "roje"/"ruje", "vedé" (to see), pronounced as "veré", and often spelled so, same for "cadé/caré" (to fall), and "Madonna/Maronna"). Some think that the rhotacism is a more recent phenomenon, though. Other Oscan influence (more likely than the previous one) is considered the pronunciation of the group of consonants "nd" (of Latin) as "nn" (this generally is reflected in spelling more consistently) (e.g.- "munno" (world, compare to Italian "mondo"), "quanno" (when, compare to Italian "quando"), etc.), and the pronunciation of the group of consonants "mb" (of Latin) as "mm" (e.g.- tammuro (drum), cfr. Italian tamburo), also consistently reflected in spelling. Other effects of the Oscan substratum are postulated too. In addition, the language was also affected by the Greek language. Naples was largely Greek-speaking prior to the Eighth Century, and the Greek language remained dominant in much of Southern Italy for many further centuries before finally being fully supplanted by Italian dialects (see: Griko language for remnant traces of Greek on the Italian peninsula). There have never been any successful attempts to standardize the language (eg.- consulting three different dictionaries, one finds three different spellings for the word for tree, "arbero", "arvero" and "àvaro").

Neapolitan has enjoyed a rich literary, musical and theatrical history (notably Giambattista Basile, Eduardo de Filippo, Salvatore di Giacomo and Totò).

The language has no official status within Italy and is not taught in schools. The Università Federico II in Naples offers (from 2003) courses in Campanian Dialectology at the faculty of Sociology, whose actual aim is not teaching students to speak the language, but studying its history, usage, literature and social role. There are also ongoing legislative attempts at the national level to have it recognized as an official minority language of Italy. It is however a recognized ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee language with the language code of "nap".

For comparison, The Lord's Prayer is here reproduced in the Neapolitan spoken in Naples and in a northern Calabrian dialect, in contrast with a variety of southern Calabrian (part of Sicilian language), Italian and Latin.

See also

*Italian dialects
*Languages of Italy
*Sicilian language
*Calabrian languages
*Southern Italian

External links

* [ Websters Online Dictionary Neapolitan/English]
* [ Ethnologue World linguistic classification]
* [ Neapolitan language introduction]
* [ Interactive Map of languages in Italy]
* [ Neapolitan on-line radio station]
* [ Italian-Neapolitan searchable online dictionary]
* [ Grammar primer and extensive vocabulary for the Neapolitan dialect of Torre del Greco]
* [ French-Neapolitan downloadable and searchable online dictionary]
* [ Neapolitan language and culture (in Italian)]


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