Languages of Italy - Geographic Distribution

Geographic Distribution


The Northern Italian languages are conventionally defined as those Romance languages spoken north of the La Spezia–Rimini Line, which runs through the northern Apennine Mountains just to the north of Tuscany; however, the dialects of Occitan and Franco-Provençal spoken in the extreme northwest of Italy (e.g. in the Val d'Aosta) are generally excluded. The classification of these languages is difficult and not agreed-upon, due both to the variations among the languages and to the fact that they share isoglosses of various sorts with both the Italo-Romance languages to the south and the Gallo-Romance languages to the northwest.

Alemannic Alpine
Provençal Bavarian Cimbrian Emilian-Romagnol Francoprovençal Friulian Ladin Ligurian Lombard Mócheno Piedmontese Resian Töitschu Venetian

One common classification divides these languages into four groups:

  • The Italian Rhaeto-Romance languages, including Ladin and Friulan
  • The poorly researched Istriot language
  • The Venetian language (sometimes grouped with the majority Gallo-Italian languages)
  • The Gallo-Italian languages, including all the rest (although with some doubt regarding the position of Ligurian)

Any such classification runs into the basic problem that there is a dialect continuum throughout northern Italy, with a continuous transition of spoken dialects between e.g. Venetian and Ladin, or Venetian and Emilio-Romagnolo (usually considered Gallo-Italian).

All of these languages are considered "innovatory" relative to the Romance languages as a whole, with some of the Gallo-Italian languages having phonological changes nearly as extreme as standard French (usually considered the most innovatory of the Romance languages). This distinguishes them significantly from standard Italian, which is extremely conservative in its phonology (and notably conservative in its morphology).


Approximate distribution of the regional languages of Sardinia and southern Italy according to the UNESCO's Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger:

Corsican Gallurese Sassarese Algherese Logudorese Campidanese Molise
Croatian Faetar Arbëresh Southern Italian Griko
(Salento) Griko
(Calabria) Gardiol Gallo-Italic
of Sicily Sicilian

Read more about this topic:  Languages Of Italy

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