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Spoken in Monaco
Total speakers 35,657 (2006)
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 roa
ISO 639-3 lij
Street sign in French and Monégasque in Monaco-Ville

Monégasque (natively Munegascu) is a dialect of the modern Ligurian language, spoken in Monaco.


Linguistic family

It is rather similar to the variety of Ligurian spoken in Genoa, but differs from its neighboring dialects Intemelio and Mentonasc. It has been partially influenced by Niçard Occitan. Contemporary Niçard Occitan is also traditionally spoken in some parts of Monaco, besides Monégasque.

Monegasque, along with all Ligurian languages, are derived directly from the Italian of the Middle Ages along with some influences in vocabulary, grammar and syntax from French and related Gallo-Romance languages.

Before the annexation of the County of Nice to France in 1860, the Nizzardo Italians spoke a dialect very similar to the Monégasque.[1]


It is spoken in addition to French by the Monégasques. Because the Monégasques are only a minority in Monaco, Monégasque was threatened with extinction in the 1970s.

But the language is now being taught in schools, and its continuance is regarded as secured. In the old part of Monaco, the street signs are marked with Monégasque in addition to French.

An Italian dialect?

Standard Italian is also a major language in Monaco, which is closely related to Monégasque. Italian nationals make up some 16% of the 35,000 actual residents of Monaco.

Italian was the official language of Monaco when it was a Protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1814 to 1861[2], which left a legacy in some Monégasque words.

Monaco -with Menton- was the extreme western area of the Republic of Genoa (green color) in 1664

Indeed, for a long time after the Renaissance, Monaco was the most westernly part on the Mediterranean coast of the Republic of Genoa.

During fascist occupation in 1942-1943, the Principality of Monaco was considered part of Italy and Monégasque was said to be an Italian dialect.

After WWII there were nearly 10,000 Italians in Monte Carlo, and some of them (descendants of the Nizzardo Italians - followers of Giuseppe Garibaldi - who were forced to move from Nice to the Kingdom of Italy after 1861) even spoke Monégasque fluently.


Monégasque orthography generally follows Italian principles, with the following exceptions:

  • the ü is pronounced as in German, or as the French u.
  • the œ is pronounced as the French é, and not like the French œu as in bœuf, which is how œ is pronounced in Ligurian, which also uses the character ö to represent this sound.
  • the ç is pronounced as in the French ç [s]: tradiçiùn comes from the Latin traditionem , and not from the Italian tradizione.


Below is an excerpt from the Monégasque national anthem, written by Louis Notari. In addition, there exists an older French version of the anthem whose lyrics bear different meaning. The choice between the two forms is generally subject to occasion and circumstance.

Despoei tugiù sciü d'u nostru paise
Se ride au ventu, u meme pavayùn
Despoei tugiù a curù russa e gianca
E stà l'emblema, d'a nostra libertà
Grandi e i piciui, l'an sempre respetà

Following is a Monégasque rendering of the Hail Mary prayer:

Ave Maria,
Tüta de graçia
u Signù è cun tü
si benedëta tra tüt'ë done
e Gesü u to Fiyu è benejiu.

Santa Maria, maire de Diu,
prega per nùi, pecatùi
aùra e à l'ura d'a nostra morte
AMEN. (Che sice cusci.)

Pater Noster in Monégasque


  1. ^ Beyond Boundaries: Language and Identity in Contemporary Europe, Chapter Seven
  2. ^ History of Monaco

See also


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