Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, Monaco, France
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
Geographic distribution of undisputed Gallo-Italic varieties

The Gallo-Italic, Gallo-Italian, Gallo-Cisalpine or simply Cisalpine languages constitute the majority of the Romance languages of northern Italy: Piedmontese, Lombard, Emilian, Ligurian, and Romagnol.[3] In central Italy they are spoken in the northern Marches (Gallo-Italic of the Marches);[4] in southern Italy in some language islands in Basilicata (Gallo-Italic of Basilicata) and Sicily (Gallo-Italic of Sicily).[5]

Although most publications define Venetian as part of the Italo-Dalmatian branch, both Ethnologue and Glottolog group it into the Gallo-Italic languages.[6][7]

The languages are spoken also in the departement of Alpes-Maritimes in France and in Ticino and southern Grisons, both in Switzerland, and the microstates of Monaco and San Marino. They are still spoken to some extent by the Italian diaspora in countries with Italian immigrant communities.

Having a Celtic substratum and a Germanic, mostly Lombardic, superstrate, Gallo-Italian descends from the Latin spoken in northern part of Italia (former Cisalpine Gaul). The group had for part of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages a close linguistic link with Gaul and Raetia, west and north to the Alps. From the late Middle Ages, the group adopted various characteristics of the Italo-Dalmatian languages of the south.

As a result, the Gallo-Italic languages have characteristics of the Gallo-Romance languages to the northwest (including French and Arpitan), the Occitano-Romance languages to the west (including Catalan and Occitan) and the Italo-Dalmatian languages to the north-east, central and south Italy (Venetian, Dalmatian, Tuscan, Central Italian, Neapolitan, Sicilian). For this there is some debate over the proper grouping of the Gallo-Italic languages. They are sometimes grouped with Gallo-Romance,[8][9][10][11] but other linguists group them in Italo-Dalmatian.[12][13][14][15][16]

Most Gallo-Italic languages have to varying degrees given way in everyday use to regional varieties of Italian.[citation needed] The vast majority of current speakers are diglossic with Italian.

Among the regional languages of Italy, they are the most endangered, since in the main cities of their area (Milan, Turin, Genoa, Bologna) they are mainly used by the elderly.


See also: Cisalpine Gaul and Roman Italy

Geographical distribution

Within this sub-family, the language with the largest geographic spread is Lombard, spoken in the Italian region of Lombardy, in eastern Piedmont and western Trentino. Outside Italy it is widespread in Switzerland in the canton of Ticino, and some southern valleys of the canton of the Grisons.

Piedmontese refers to the languages spoken in the region of Piedmont and the north west corner of Liguria. Historically, the Piedmontese-speaking area is the plain at the foot of the Western Alps, and ends at the entrance to the valleys where Occitan and Arpitan are spoken. In recent centuries, the language has also spread into these valleys, where it is also more widely spoken than these two languages, thus the borders of Piedmontese have reached the western alps watershed that is the border with France.

The speaking area of Ligurian or Genoese cover the territory of the former Republic of Genoa, which included much of nowadays Liguria, and some mountain areas of bordering regions near the Ligurian border, the upper valley of Roya river near Nice, in Carloforte and Calasetta in Southern Sardinia, and Bonifacio in Corsica.

Emilian is spoken in the historical-cultural region of Emilia, which forms part of Emilia-Romagna, but also in many areas of the bordering regions, including southern Lombardy, south-eastern Piedmont, around the town of Tortona, province of Massa and Carrara in Tuscany and Polesine in Veneto, near the Po delta. With Romagnol, spoken in the historical region of Romagna, forms the Emilian-Romagnol linguistic continuum.

Gallo-Piceno (gallo-italic of the Marches or gallico-marchigiano) is spoken in the province of Pesaro and Urbino and in the northern part of the province of Ancona (the Marches).[4] Once classified as a dialect of Romagnol, now there is a debate about considering it a separated Gallo-Italic language.[17][18]

Isolated varieties in Sicily and in Basilicata (Southern Gallo-Italic variants)

Further information: Gallo-Italic of Sicily and Gallo-Italic of Basilicata

Varieties of Gallo-Italic languages are also found in Sicily,[5] corresponding with the central-eastern parts of the island that received large numbers of immigrants from Northern Italy, called Lombards, during the decades following the Norman conquest of Sicily (around 1080 to 1120). Given the time that has lapsed and the influence from the Sicilian language itself, these dialects are best generically described as Southern Gallo-Italic. The major centres where these dialects can still be heard today 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 suggested that the nowadays dialect 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 dialects, attested from 13th and 14th century, are also found in Basilicata,[5] more precisely in the province of Potenza (Tito, Picerno, Pignola and Vaglio Basilicata), Trecchina, Rivello, Nemoli and San Costantino.[19]

General classification

Chart of Romance languages based on structural and comparative criteria, not on socio-functional ones


Gallo-Italic languages are often said to resemble Western Romance languages like French, Spanish, or Portuguese, and in large part it is due to their phonology. The Gallo-Italic languages differ somewhat in their phonology from one language to another, but the following are the most important characteristics, as contrasted with Italian:[21]



Lexical comparison

Numbers Lombard Istrian Emilian Piedmontese Venetian Ligurian
1 vyŋ / vœna uŋ / una oŋ / ona yŋ / 'yŋa uŋ / una yŋ / yna
2 dy dui du / dʌu dʊi̯/ 'dʊe̯ due / dɔ dui / duɛ
3 tri/tre tri tri / trai trɛi̯ / trɛ tri / trɛ trei / trɛ
4 kwatr kwatro kwatr kwatr kwatro kwatrʊ
5 ʃiŋk siŋkwe θeŋk siŋk siŋkwe siŋkwɛ
6 ses seje sis ses sie sei
7 sɛt siete sɛt sɛt sɛte sɛtɛ
8 vɔt wɔto ɔt œt ɔto øtʊ
9 nœf nuve nov nœw nove nøvɛ
10 des ʒize diz des dieze deʒɛ

Comparisons of the sentence: "She always closes the window before dining."

Italian (reference) (Lei) chiude sempre la finestra prima di cenare.
  • (Gallo-Italic)
Bergamasque (Eastern Lombard) (Lé) La sèra sèmper sö ol balcù prima de senà.
Brescian (Eastern Lombard) (Lé) La sèra semper sö la finèstra enacc de senà.
Milanese (Western Lombard) (Lee) la sara semper sü la fenestra inans de zena.
Ludesan (Western Lombard) lé la sarà semper sü la finèstra inans da disnà.
Piacentine (Emilian) Le la sära sëimpar sö/sü la finestra (fnestra) prima da diśnä
Bolognese (Emilian) (Lî) la sèra sänper la fnèstra prémma ed dṡnèr.
Cesenate (Romagnol) (Lî) la ciöd sèmpar la fnèstra prèmma d' z'nèr.
Riminese (Romagnol) (Léa) la ciùd sémpre la fnèstra prèima ad z'né.
Pesarese (Gallo-Piceno) Lìa la chiód sénpre la fnèstra préma d' ć'nè.
Fanese (Gallo-Piceno) Lìa chìud sèmper la fnestra prima d' c'né.
Piedmontese (Chila) a sara sempe la fnestra dnans ëd fé sin-a.
Canavese (Piedmontese) (Chilà) a sera sémper la fnestra doant ëd far sèina.
Ligurian Lê a særa sénpre o barcón primma de çenâ.
Tabarchin (Ligurian dialect of Sardinia) Lé a sère fissu u barcun primma de çenò.
Carrarese (transition dialect among Ligurian, Emilian and Tuscan) Lê al sèr(e)/chiode sènpre la fnestra(paravento) prima de cena.
Romansh Ella clauda/serra adina la fanestra avant ch'ella tschainia.
Friulian Jê e siere simpri il barcon prin di cenâ.
Gherdëina Ladin Ëila stluj for l vier dan cené.
Nones (Ladin) (Ela) la sera semper la fenestra inant zenar. ()
Solander (Ladin) La sèra sempro (sèmper) la fenèstra prima (danànt) da cenàr.
  • (other, for reference)
Venetian Ła sàra/sèra senpre el balcón vanti senàr/dixnàr.
Trentine Èla la sèra sèmper giò/zo la fenèstra prima de zenà.
Istriot (Rovignese) Gila insiera senpro el balcon preîma da senà.
Florentine (Tuscan) Lei la 'hiude sempre la finestra prima di cenà.
Corsican Ella chjudi sempri a finestra primma di cenà.
Sardinian Issa tancat semper sa ventana in antis de si esser chenada.
Neapolitan Essa abbarrechée sempe 'a fenesta primma ca cene.
Salentino Quiddhra chiude sèmpre a fenéscia prìma cu mancia te sira.
Sicilian Idda chiudi sèmpri la finéstra prìma di manciari a la sira.
Perugian Lia chiud sempre la fnestra prima d' cenè.
French Elle ferme toujours la fenêtre avant de dîner.
Romanian (Ea) închide totdeauna fereastra înainte de a cina.
Spanish Ella siempre cierra la ventana antes de cenar.
Latin (Illa) Claudit semper fenestram antequam cenet.

See also


  1. ^ "Glottolog 4.8 – Venetian".
  2. ^ "Venetian". Ethnologue.
  3. ^ Loporcaro, Michele. 2009. 'Profilo linguistico dei dialetti d'Italia. Bari: Laterza. Pg. 3.'
  4. ^ a b Francesco Avolio, Dialetti, in Treccani Encyclopaedia, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Fiorenzo Toso, Le minoranze linguistiche in Italia, Il Mulino, Bologna 2008, p. 137.
  6. ^ a b "Venetian". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2020-03-01.
  7. ^ "Glottolog 4.8 – Venetian".
  8. ^ Ethnologue, [1]
  9. ^ Hull, Geoffrey (1982): «The linguistic unity of northern Italy and Rhaetia.» Ph.D. diss., University of Sydney West.
  10. ^ Longobardi, Giuseppe. (2014). Theory and experiment in parametric minimalism. Language description informed by theory. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 217–262.
  11. ^ Tamburelli, M., & Brasca, L. (2018). Revisiting the classification of Gallo-Italic: a dialectometric approach. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 33, 442–455. [2]
  12. ^ For example, Giovan Battista Pellegrini, Tullio De Mauro, Maurizio Dardano, Tullio Telmon (see Enrico Allasino et al. Le lingue del Piemonte Archived 2011-08-10 at the Wayback Machine, IRES – Istituto di Ricerche Economico Sociali del Piemonte, Torino, 2007, p. 9) and Vincenzo Orioles (see Classificazione dei dialetti parlati in Italia).
  13. ^ Walter De Gruyter, Italienisch, Korsisch, Sardisch, 1988, p. 452.
  14. ^ Michele Loporcaro, Profilo linguistico dei dialetti italiani, 2013, p. 70.
  15. ^ Martin Maiden, Mair Parry, Dialects of Italy, 1997, Introduction p. 3.
  16. ^ Anna Laura Lepschy, Giulio Lepschy, The Italian Language Today, 1998, p. 41.
  17. ^ AA. VV. Conoscere l'Italia vol. Marche (Pag. 64), Istituto Geografico De Agostini – Novara – 1982
  18. ^ Dialetti romagnoli. Seconda edizione aggiornata, Daniele Vitali, Davide Pioggia, Pazzini Editore, Verucchio (RN), 2016
  19. ^ Michele Loporcaro, "Phonological Processes", in Maiden et al., 2011, The Cambridge History of the Romance Languages: Volume 1, Structures
  20. ^ "Glottolog 4.8 – Venetian".
  21. ^ 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.