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Northern Italian
Padanian, Cisalpine (rare)
Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia
       Northern Italian

Northern Italian (traditional name in Romance linguistics), Gallo-Italic (occasionally Gallo-Italian [1]) or Padanian[2] (recent name) or Cisalpine (rare name) is a linguistic set with different definitions. It can be viewed:

  • as a group of Italian dialects, according to traditional Romance linguistics (see Pellegrini 1975, Rohlfs 1975).
  • as a sub-family composed of several regional Romance languages.
  • as a Romance language, according to linguist Geoffrey Hull,[2] who prefers the name "Padanian language".

Traditionally spoken in Northern Italy, Southern Switzerland, San Marino and Monaco, most Northern Italian varieties have given way to Standard Italian and its regional variations. The area where Northern Italian dialects are spoken roughly corresponds to Northern Italy (sometimes called Padania). The vast majority of current speakers are bilingual in Standard Italian.

The southern linguistic frontier, between Northern Italian and Italian proper, is called La Spezia-Rimini line.

Languages of Italy by groups[3][4][5][6] (Northern Italian in gold/ green).




General classification

Hull's classification

Linguist Geoffrey Hull (1982) considers that Rhaeto-Romance (Friulian, Ladin and Romansh) would be also a branch of the "Padanian language". Thus, Hull suggests the following dialectal classification:

  • Padanian
    • Cisalpine (Gallo-Italic + Venetian)
    • Rhaeto-Romance (Friulian + Ladin + Romansh)


Today, Northern Italian varieties are spoken by far fewer people in its area than Italian, with the partial exception of Veneto, where slightly less than half of the local population currently speaks it[7]. Literature written in Northern Italian languages continues to prosper and these languages are still spoken by immigrants in countries with Italian immigrant communities.

Ligurian is formalised in Monaco as Monegasque.


These languages are nowadays thought of as being part of the western branch of Romance languages, the Italo-Western languages.

Isolated varieties in Sicily

Varieties of Northern Italian are also found in Sicily, corresponding with the central-eastern parts of the island that received large numbers of immigrants from Northern Italy during the decades following the Norman conquest of Sicily (around 1080 to 1120). Given the time that has lapsed and the cross-fertilisation that has occurred between these varieties and the Sicilian language itself, these dialects are best described as gallo-siculo. The major centres where these dialects can still be heard today (in ever decreasing numbers) include Piazza Armerina, Aidone, Sperlinga, San Fratello, Nicosia, and Novara di Sicilia. Northern Italian dialects did not survive in some towns in the province of Catania that developed large Lombard communities during this period, namely Randazzo, Paternò and Bronte. However, the Northern Italian influence in the local varieties of Sicilian are marked. In the case of San Fratello, some linguists have suggested that the siculo-gallic dialect present today has Provençal as its basis, having been a fort manned by Provençal mercenaries in the early decades of the Norman conquest (bearing in mind that it took the Normans 30 years to conquer the whole of the island).

Other varieties of Northern Italian, locally spoken from XIIIth and XIVth centuries, are also found in Basilicata, more precisely in the province of Potenza[8] and in Trecchina[9].


  1. ^ Ethnologue report for Gallo-Italian
  2. ^ a b Hull, Geoffrey (1982) The linguistic unity of Northern Italy and Rhaetia, PhD thesis, university of Sydney. west.
  3. ^ Ali, Linguistic atlas of Italy
  4. ^ Linguistic cartography of Italy by Padova University
  5. ^ Italiand dialects by Pellegrini
  6. ^ AIS, Sprach-und Sachatlas Italiens und der Südschweiz, Zofingen 1928-1940
  7. ^ [1] (IT)
  8. ^ They are spoken in the regional and provincial capital of Potenza itself, in Tito, Picerno, Pignola and Vaglio Basilicata too.
  9. ^ Trecchina, Rivello, Nemoli and San Costantino.


  • Hull, Dr Geoffrey (1989) Polyglot Italy: Languages, Dialects, Peoples, CIS Educational, Melbourne
  • Hull, Dr Geoffrey (1982) The linguistic unity of Northern Italy and Rhaetia, PhD thesis, university of Sydney west.
  • Bernard Comrie, Stephen Matthews, Maria Polinsky (eds.), The Atlas of languages : the origin and development of languages throughout the world. New York 2003, Facts On File. p. 40.
  • Stephen A. Wurm, Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing. Paris 2001, UNESCO Publishing, p. 29.
  • Glauco Sanga: La lingua Lombarda, in Koiné in Italia, dalle origini al 500 (Koinés in Italy, from the origin to 1500), Lubrina publisher, Bèrghem
  • Studi di lingua e letteratura lombarda offerti a Maurizio Vitale, (Studies in Lombard language and literature) Pisa : Giardini, 1983
  • Brevini, Franco - Lo stile lombardo : la tradizione letteraria da Bonvesin da la Riva a Franco Loi / Franco Brevini - Pantarei, Lugan - 1984 (Lombard style: literary tradition from Bonvesin da la Riva to Franco Loi )
  • Mussafia Adolfo, Beitrag zur kunde der Norditalienischen Mundarten im XV. Jahrhunderte (Wien, 1873)
  • Pellegrini, G.B. "I cinque sistemi dell'italoromanzo", in Saggi di linguistica italiana (Turin: Boringhieri, 1975), pp. 55-87.
  • Rohlfs, Gerhard, Rätoromanisch. Die Sonderstellung des Rätoromanischen zwischen Italienisch und Französisch. Eine kulturgeschichtliche und linguistische Einführung (Munich: C.H. Beek'sche, 1975), pp. 1-20.
  • Canzoniere Lombardo - by Pierluigi Beltrami, Bruno Ferrari, Luciano Tibiletti, Giorgio D'Ilario - Varesina Grafica Editrice, 1970.

See also


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