Native toItaly
Regionwestern Basilicata
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

The dialect of Castelmezzano is a Romance variety spoken in Castelmezzano in the Province of Potenza in Italy. It constitutes a dialect of the Neapolitan language that differs from the rest (and from neighbouring imported Gallo-Italic varieties) in its treatment of Latin back vowels, showing an evolution more reminiscent of Eastern Romance: Latin /ŭ/ merges with /ū/ rather than with /ō/.

Castelmezzano is but the kernel of an area, dubbed the Vorposten (German for 'outpost') by Lausberg, which shares the same vowel development. It includes Castronuovo di Sant'Andrea, Sant'Arcangelo, Roccanova, San Martino d'Agri, Aliano (and Alianello), Gallicchio, Missanello, Armento, Pietrapertosa, Anzi, Campomaggiore, Albano di Lucania, Trivigno, Brindisi di Montagna, Corleto Perticara and Guardia Perticara.

This type of vocalism may once have been characteristic of most of southern Italy and possibly even other areas that now have Italo-Western vowel outcomes.[1] It can be viewed as a compromise, in that it has a Sardinian-like treatment of the back vowels, as is also observed in the southern part of the Lausberg area, while also having an Italo-Western-like treatment of the front vowels (merging Latin /ĭ/ with /ē/), as found in other varieties of Neapolitan.

Comparison of vowel changes

Latin Root form Vowel Castelmezzano dialect Dalmatian Romanian Notes
piper *pipum, *piprum /ɪ/ pépë pepro - Romanian has got the borrowing "piper".
digitus digitum /ɪ/ [?] detco deget
fīlum - /iː/ filë fil fir
cor *corum /ɔ/ córë cur -
bonus bonum /ɔ/ [?] bun bun The vowel was shifted from /o/ to /u/, yielding "bun" in Romanian, as part of vowel reduction.
focus focum /ɔ/ [?] fuc foc
somnus somnum /ɔ/ [?] samno somn The Dalmatian result may be tied to the consonantal cluster /mn/ or to the retention of the word-final vowel.
sōl sōlem /oː/ sólë saul soare The Dalmatian and Romanian terms are only diphthongized due to not having been followed by /u/ or /i/.
vōx vōcem /oː/ [?] baud boace (archaic) The Dalmatian and Romanian terms are only diphthongized due to not having been followed by /u/ or /i/. Romanian has got the neologism "voce".
bōs *bōvum /oː/ [?] bu bou
tōtus tōtum /oː/ [?] tut, tot tot The function as pronoun may be the reason for the Dalmatian alternative form.
furca furcam /ʊ/ fùrchë fuarca furcă
surdus surdum /ʊ/ [?] suard surd
nux *nucem, *nucum /ʊ/ [?] nauc nuc
lūna lūnam /uː/ lùnë loina lună
mūrus mūrum /uː/ [?] moir, mor mur The Dalmatian variant does not seem to reflect the most usual outcomes.
crūdus crūdum /uː/ [?] croit crud

A comparison of vowel changes shows only limited relatability of the languages and the dialect yet Dalmatian sound changes may sometimes differ from the usual phonological development that can be ascertained.


  1. ^ Loporcaro, Michele (2011). "Phonological Processes". In Maiden; et al. (eds.). The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages: Volume 1, Structures. p. 114.