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Historical (yellow) and current (orange) distribution of the Cimbrian and Mócheno dialects.

Cimbrian (German: Zimbrisch or Tzimbrisch) refers to any of several local Upper German dialects spoken in northeastern Italy. The speakers of the language are known as Zimbern.

Cimbrian is a Germanic variety which is related to Austro-Bavarian and most probably derives from a Southern Austro-Bavarian dialect. However, as there are many essential differences in grammar as well as in vocabulary and pronunciation, it is practically unintelligible for people speaking Standard German or Austro-Bavarian, the latter being also spoken in the province of Bolzano-Bozen. The impact of the surrounding varieties of Italian on Cimbrian has been very strong ever since.



The earliest record of the movement of Bavarians to Verona dates to ca. 1050 (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Cod. lat. 4547). The settlement continued during the 11th and 12th centuries.

A theory of Lombardic origin of the Zimbern was proposed in 1948 by Bruno Schweizer and again in 1974 by Alfonso Bellotto.[1] The debate was again revived in 2004 by Cimbrian linguist Ermenegildo Bidese.[2] The majority of linguists remains committed to the hypothesis of medieval (11th to 12th century) immigration.[3]

The presence of Germanic-speaking communities in Italy was discovered by the Italian humanists in the 14th century, who associated them with the Cimbri who arrived in the region in the 2nd century BC, whence the current endonym (Tzimbar, Cimbarn) has probably been adopted. An alternative hypothesis derives the name from a term for "carpenter", cognate with English timber.


The three major dialects of Cimbrian are spoken in:

  • the "Sette Comuni" (Sieben Gemeinden) near Asiago (currently only the village of Roana-Robaan),
  • Luserna (Lusern), in the province of Trento
  • the "Tredici Comuni" (Dreizehn Gemeinden) near Verona (currently only the village of Giazza-Ljetzan)
  • some villages in the Carnic Alps as Sappada, Sauris and Timau.

Cimbrian is in danger of extinction both from standard Italian, which is often used in public, and the neighboring regional Venetian language. It is estimated that about 2,220 people speak Cimbrian.


Cimbrian German English

Christus ist au gestanden
Von der marter alle,
Daz sollen bier alle froalich sayn
Christus bil unser troast sayn.

Christ ist erstanden
Von der Marter alle,
Des solln wir alle froh sein,
Christ will unser Trost sein.

Christ is risen
from all tortures,
therefore let us rejoice
Christ shall be our solace

See also


  1. ^ Bruno Schweizer: Die Herkunft der Zimbern. In: Die Nachbarn. Jahrbuch für vergleichende Volkskunde 1, 1948, ISSN 0547-096X, S. 111–129.; Alfonso Bellotto: Il cimbro e la tradizione longobarda nel vicentino I. In: Vita di Giazza e di Roana 17-18, (1974) S. 7–19; Il cimbro e la tradizione longobarda nel vicentino II. In: Vita di Giazza e di Roana 19-20, (1974) S. 49–59.
  2. ^ Ermenegildo Bidese Die Zimbern und ihre Sprache: Geographische, historische und sprachwissenschaftlich relevante Aspekte. In: Thomas Stolz (ed.): Kolloquium über Alte Sprachen und Sprachstufen. Beiträge zum Bremer Kolloquium über „Alte Sprachen und Sprachstufen“. (= Diversitas Linguarum, Volume 8). Verlag Brockmeyer, Bochum 2004, ISBN 3-8196-0664-5, S. 3–42.Webseite von Ermenegildo Bidese
  3. ^ James R. Dow: Bruno Schweizer's commitment to the Langobardian thesis. In: Thomas Stolz (Hrsg): Kolloquium über Alte Sprachen und Sprachstufen. Beiträge zum Bremer Kolloquium über „Alte Sprachen und Sprachstufen“. (= Diversitas Linguarum, Volume 8). Verlag Brockmeyer, Bochum 2004, ISBN 3-8196-0664-5, S. 43–54.
  • Wilhelm Baum: Geschichte der Zimbern. Storia dei Cimbri. Curatorium Cimbricum Bavarense, Landshut 1983.
  • J.A. Schmeller: Cimbrisches Wörterbuch. K. K. Hof- u. Staatsdr., Vienna 1855.
  • Eberhard Kranzmayer: Laut- und Flexionslehre der deutschen zimbrischen Mundart. VWGÖ, Vienna 1981, Glossar, Vienna 1985. ISBN 3-85369-465-9
  • U. Martello-Martalar: Dizionario della Lingua cimbra. Vicenza 1974. Bd 2. Dal Pozzo, Roana-Vicenza 1985. (ital.)
  • Ermenegildo Bidese (Hrsg.): Das Zimbrische zwischen Germanisch und Romanisch. Brockmeyer, Bochum 2005. ISBN 3-8196-0670-X
  • Tyroller, Hans: Grammatische Beschreibung des Zimbrischen von Lusern (Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2003). ISBN 3-515-08038-4
  • Bruno Schweizer: Zimbrische Gesamtgrammatik. Vergleichende Darstellung der zimbrischen Dialekte (= Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik, Beiheft 132). ed. James R. Dow, Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-515-09053-7.

External links



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