There are numerous Italian dialects spoken throughout Italy. Below, Italian teacher Liz T. shares the six most popular Italian dialects…
In the big boot of Italy, there are dozens of Italian dialects. In fact, almost every region has it’s own unique accent.
While the literary Italian language is used throughout the country for law, business, and education, many people still use their region’s original Italian dialect.
While it’s not necessary for you to learn every Italian dialect, familiarizing yourself with the most popular accents could come in handy when you’re traveling throughout Italy.
Below is a breakdown of some of the most common Italian dialects. Review the list to help you recognize accents on your next trip to Italy!
Milanese is not actually classified as a form of Italian. Rather, it’s a dialect of the Gallo-Italic sub-group that is closely related to French and German.
Similar to French and German, Milanese uses two additional vowels “ö” and “y” and subject pronouns are doubled in the second and third person.
For example, the standard Italian phrase “Tu non sei” (You are not) is pronounced “ti te seet no” in Milanese.
Spoken in Venice and the surrounding areas by over two million people, Venetian derives from Latin and Greek.
The Italian dialect is used mostly in informal contexts. One example of how it differs from standard Italian, is that in Venetian the word “Farmacia” (pharmacy) is replaced with “Apoteca.”
Florentine is the most standard Italian dialect, commonly used by people under the age of 35. The dialect uses nicknames of words. For example, the standard Italian word, “Formaggio” (cheese) is replaced with “Cacio” in Florentine.
The further south you travel, the more heavy and harsh the Italian dialect becomes. Also, because there are many immigrants that settle in Florence, there are several different sounds that influence the accent.
In Romanesco, there are several deviations from standard Italian. For example, “il” turns into “er” and “gli” or “I” turns into “li“.
What’s more, the letter “j” is pronounced as “i“, whereas in the other Italian dialects it’s not. Typically, the letter “j” will appear in between two vowels or at the beginning of a word followed by a vowel.
In Neapolitan, a lot of vowels and endings are dropped. For example, the standard Italian “Piove” is written as “Chiove” in Neapolitan and “Ci veddiamo dopo” is written as “Ce verimm’ aròppo”
Also, many traditional Italian songs are written in this dialect, including the popular song “O sole mio”.
Sicilians talk with such a thick accent that people often mistake the dialect as a completely different foreign language–and they are right! Sicilian doesn’t derive from standard Italian. Rather it has linguistic elements from Greek, Latin, Arabic, French, Spanish, and more.
What’s unique about this Italian dialect is that plural endings of nouns end in “i“, no matter what the gender.
Mastering these Italian dialects can be tricky, but with the help of your Italian teacher you can practice speaking, reading, writing, and hearing these dialects together!
Bona furtuna! (Now, can you guess this dialect?)
Liz T. teaches singing, acting, music and Italian lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M. in vocal performance and has a graduate certificate in arts administration from New York University. Learn more about Liz here!
3 thoughts on “Exploring the Six Most Popular Italian Dialects”
I think the more correct syntax is “six most common…” rather than “six most popular…”
What I learned growing up in a Neapolitan family, later intertwined with in-laws from Abruzzo, and exposed to extended relatives from Genoa, the dialects were so different in each region neither group understood each other. According to my young Italian tutor who emigrated from a totally different region, the official universal language is Roman Italian, which she described as ‘proper Italian.’ She emphasized that if you learn the official version of the Romance Language, it would be understood by Italians regardless of which part of the boot they came from.
Can any one determine where Aaaaaaaazzzzzzooooo! Originated?
The answer is from “Jumpin Gennaro” from “The Wiseguyz Show”.