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Spoken in  Italy
Region northwest Italy, Piedmont
Total speakers ~2,000,000
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 roa
ISO 639-3 pms

Piedmontese (in Italian: Piemontese), (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 Venetan). 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.[citation needed] From the linguistic point of view there is no distinction, since "dialect" (dialetto) in the Italian context refers to an indigenous language, not a variety of Italian. Today it has a certain official status recognized by the Piedmont regional government, but not by the national government.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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 to prevent discrimination against migrants from other regions of Italy,[citation needed] who moved in large numbers to Turin in particular.[1]

In 2004, Piedmontese was recognised as Piedmont's regional language by the regional parliament,[2][3][4] although the Italian government has not yet recognised it as such. In theory it is now supposed to be taught to children in school,[citation needed] 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.[5] 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 (Assimil,[6] IRES Piemonte[7]) and 3 million speakers (Ethnologue[8]) 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.


Piedmontese linguistic map

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

  1. The presence of clitic subject pronouns 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”.
  2. 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]).
  3. The interrogative form, which adds an enclitic interrogative particle at the end of the verbal form (Veus-to? [Do you want to…])
  4. 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]).
  5. 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 Portuguese); Òj (from the Latin form hoc est as in Occitan, or maybe hoc illud, as in Franco-Provençal and French).
  6. The absence of the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ (as in sheep), for which an alveolar S sound (as in sun) is usually substituted.
  7. The presence of a S-C combination (pronounced [stʃ] as in this-church).
  8. The presence of a velar nasal N-sound [ŋ] (pronounced as the gerundive termination in going), which usually precedes a vowel, as in lun-a [moon].
  9. 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).
  10. The absence of the phonological contrast that exists in Italian between short (single) and long (double) consonants, for example, it. /fata/ 'fairy' and [fatta] 'done'.
  11. The existence of a prosthetic Ë sound, that is interposed when consonantal clusters arise that are not permitted by the phonological system. So stèile 'stars' in 'seven stars' is pronounced set ëstèile.

Piedmontese has a number of varieties 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, as well as differences in native Romance terminology. Words imported from various languages, including North African languages, are also present, while more recent imports tend to come from France and from Italian.

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

Lexical comparison with other Romance languages

Piedmontese Italian French Spanish Romanian English
cadrega sedia chaise silla scaun chair
pijé prendere prendre tomar a lua to take
surtì uscire sortir salir a ieşi to go/come out
droché/casché/tombé cadere tomber caer a cădea to fall
ca/mison casa maison casa casă home
brass braccio bras brazo braţ arm
nùmer numero numéro número număr number
pom mela pomme manzana măr apple
travajé lavorare travailler trabajar a lucra to work
ratavolòira pipistrello chauve-souris murciélago liliac bat
scòla scuola école escuela şcoală school
bòsch legno bois madera lemn wood
monsù signore monsieur señor domn Mr
madama signora madame señora doamnă Mrs
istà estate été verano vară summer
ancheuj oggi aujourd'hui hoy astăzi today
dman domani demain mañana mâine tomorrow
jer ieri hier ayer ieri yesterday
lùnes lunedì lundi lunes luni monday
màrtes martedì mardi martes marţi tuesday
mèrcol/merco mercoledì mercredi miércoles miercuri wednesday
giòbia giovedì jeudi jueves joi thursday
vënner venerdì vendredi viernes vineri friday
saba sabato samedi sábado sâmbătă saturday
dumìnica domenica dimanche domingo duminică sunday


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica's entry for Italy - internal migration patterns
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ Text of motion 1118 in the Piedmontese Regional Parliament, Consiglio Regionale del Piemonte, Ordine del Giorno 1118
  4. ^ 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]
  5. ^ 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 (Italian).
  6. ^ F. 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.
  7. ^ E. 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:
  8. ^ Ethnologue report for Piemontese

External links

Piedmontese language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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