Native toItaly, San Marino
RegionPrimarily Emilia-Romagna, San Marino, Marche
Ethnicity1.1 million (2008)[1]
Native speakers
Unknown, c. 430,000, assuming Romagnol and Emilian retained at same rate (2006)[2]
DialectsRavennate, Forlivese, Cesenate, Riminese, Sammarinese, Gallo-Picene (disputed)
Language codes
ISO 639-3rgn
Linguasphere51-AAA-oki ... okl
Emiliano-Romagnolo area.jpg
Geographic distribution of Romagnol (shown in dark pink)[image reference needed]
Mappa linguistica Romagna.jpg
Linguistic map of Romagna and neighbouring regions[image reference needed]
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Romagnol (rumagnòl) is a group of closely related dialects part of Emilian-Romagnol continuum which are spoken in the historical region of Romagna, which is now mainly in the southeastern part of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The name is derived from the Lombard name for the region, Romagna.[3] Romagnol is also spoken outside the region, particularly in the independent country of San Marino.[4] Romagnol is classified as endangered because older generations have "neglected to pass on the dialect as a native tongue to the next generation".[5]


Romagnol is one of the two branches of the Emilian-Romagnol continuum.[6] The Romagnol dialects form a dialect continuum with their neighbouring Romagnol varieties, while the more distant dialects might be less mutually intelligible. Variants spoken north of the Santerno river are considered by speakers of Sammarinese as being hardly intelligible. The Gallo-Italic family includes Piedmontese, Ligurian and Lombard, all of which maintain a level of mutual intelligibility with both Romagnol and Emilian.

Geographic distribution

Western border

West of Romagna, the Emilian language is spoken. The border with Emilian-speaking areas is the Sillaro river, which runs 25 km east from Bologna to the west of Castel San Pietro Terme. Romagnol is spoken to the east of this river and to the south of the Reno river. In Emilia-Romagna, Emilian is spoken in all the rest of the region moving from the Sillaro river to the west, up to Piacenza, and to the north of the Reno, up to the Po.

Northern border

The Reno River is the border between Romagnol and the dialect of Ferrara. Romagnol is spoken also in some villages northwards of the Reno River, such as Argenta and Filo, where people of Romagnol origin live alongside people of Ferrarese origin. Ferrara goes into Emilian language territory.

Southern border

Outside Emilia-Romagna, Romagnol is spoken in the Republic of San Marino ("Sammarinese"), and in two municipalities located in the province of Florence, Marradi and Palazzuolo sul Senio.

In the Province of Pesaro and Urbino of Marche region, Gallic-Picene is spoken, but its status as sub-variant of Romagnol or as separate language is disputed.


Romagnol's first acknowledgement outside regional literature was in Dante Alighieri's treatise De vulgari eloquentia, wherein Dante compares “the language of Romagna” to his native Tuscan dialect.[7] Eventually, in 1629, the author Adriano Banchieri wrote the treatise Discorso della lingua Bolognese, which countered Dante's claim that the Tuscan dialect was better, arguing his belief that Bolognese (an Emilian dialect influenced by Romagnol that saw wide use in writing) was superior in “naturalness, softness, musicality, and usefulness.” Romagnol received more recognition after Romagna gained independence from the Papal States.[8]


16th to 19th century

The first appearance of a distinct Romagnol literary work is "Sonetto romagnolo" by Bernardino Catti, from Ravenna, printed 1502. It is written in a mixture of Italian and Romagnol[citation needed].

The first Romagnol poem dates back to the end of the 16th century: E Pvlon matt. Cantlena aroica (Mad Nap), a mock-heroic poem based on Orlando Furioso and written by an anonymous author from San Vittore di Cesena [it]. The original poem comprised twelve cantos, of which only the first four survived (1848 lines).[8]

The first Romagnol poet to win fame was the cleric Pietro Santoni, (Fusignano, 1736–1823). He was the teacher of Vincenzo Monti, one of the most famous Italian poets of his time.

In 1840 the first Romagnol-Italian Dictionary was published by Antonio Morri [it], printed in Faenza.

20th century

The 20th century saw a flourishing of Romagnol literature. Theatrical plays, poems and books of a high quality were produced. Some of the best known Romagnol authors are:



Unlike Standard Italian, not all nouns end in a theme vowel. Masculine nouns lack theme vowels, and feminine nouns typically (but not always) terminate in a. Masculine nouns and adjectives undergo lexically-specified ablaut to form the plural, and feminine nouns and adjectives form the plural by a becoming i or being deleted after a consonant cluster or a double consonant.[6]

Romagnol Italian
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Sacrêri (m. sg.) Sacréri (m. pl.) Sacrario Sacrari
grând (sg.) grènd (pl.) grande grandi

Both languages derive their lexicon from Vulgar Latin, but some words differ in gender.

Romagnol Italian Latin English
la risa il riso risus (masc.) rice
la sècia il secchio siclum (masc.) bucket


Italian and Romagnol share much of the same features when it comes to verbs. Both languages use subject-verb-object in simple sentences for their word order. Verbs are conjugated according to tense, mood, and person. Romagnol also has four conjugations, compared to Standard Italian's three: the first, -êr; the second, -ér; the third, -ar; and the fourth, -ìr. Marked differences in Romagnol from Standard Italian are that personal pronouns are required, and some verbs in Romagnol use a reflexive construction even if the speaker is not the second argument of the verb although Italian uses an intransitive construction.[9]

Romagnol Italian English
Me a'm so lavê (Io) mi sono lavato I washed myself
Me a sò (Io) sono I am
Me a j'ò (Io) ho I have

Impersonal verbs, which lack a canonical subject, in Romagnol use "avèr" but in Standard Italian use "essere." Even though the subject is null, an expletive pronoun is inserted in the specifier position, much like "it" in English.

Also, whereas Standard Italian and other northern dialects omit the definite article before "singular names and names of relatives", Romagnol keeps it.[10]


Romagnol has lexical and syntactic uniformity throughout its area. However, its pronunciation changes as one goes from the Po Valley to the hills.[citation needed]

It has an inventory of up to 20 vowels that contrast in the stressed position, compared to 7 in Italian. They are marked in the orthography by using diacritics on a, e, i, o and u.[11][12]

The absence of an official institution regulating its orthography often leads to ambiguities in the transcription of vowel sounds.

Syllable structure

Some words that in Latin are trisyllabic or tetrasyllabic in which u is not stressed are reduced in Romagnol to being only monosyllabic. An atonic syllable is dropped.[citation needed]

Latin Romagnol Italian English Emilian
geniculum znöcc ginocchio knee znocc
tepidus tèvd tiepido tepid tevad
oculus öcc occhio eye occ
frigidus frèd freddo cold fredd


These three tables list the vowel inventory of the "classical" version of the northern macro-dialect of Romagnol.

Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e (ə~ɐ) o
ɛ ɔ
Low a
Symbol Value
ê [eə̯]
ô [oə̯]
ë [ɛə̯]
ö [ɔə̯]
Nasal Vowels
Symbol Value
ã/â [ə̃]
õ [õ]

The following table lists the vowels above alongside their relative orthography:[11]

Symbol in




Dialectal pronunciation

around Lugo (RA)[11]

Example in Romagnol Comparison with Italian English meaning
ë ɛə̯ ɛæ̯ bël bello "nice" (masculine singular)
è, e ɛ ɛ~ɜ bèl belli "nice" (masculine plural)
ê eə̯ eɜ̯~iɜ̯ fêr fare "to do"
é e ej méla mela "apple"
ö ɔə̯ ɔɒ̯ cöl collo "neck"
ô oə̯ oɞ̯ rôda ruota "wheel"
ò, o ɔ ɔ~ɞ òngg undici "eleven"
ó o ow sól sole "sun"
ɛ̃ æ̃ bẽ bene "fine" (adverb)
ã, â ə̃ ɤ̃ cane "dog"
õ õ õ buono "good"
a a ɐ~ə zèngia cinghia "belt"
à, a (when stressed) a äː fàza faccia "face"
u u u purtê portato "brought"
ù, u (when stressed) u ʊ dur duro "hard" (masculine singular)
i i i istê estate "summer"
ì, i (when stressed) i ~ɪ partìr partire "to leave"


Labial Inter-
Retroflex Palato-
Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ (ŋ)
Stop pb td kɡ
Affricate t͡ʃd͡ʒ
Fricative fv θð (sz) ʂʐ
Lateral l ʎ
Trill r
Approximant j w

The letter z is always pronounced as either [θ] or [ð] and not [t͡s] or [d͡z][11] as in Standard Italian.

[ŋ] occurs only before velar stops.

Romagnol, in addition to its larger inventory of vowels, also has more consonants compared to Standard Italian. Additionally, consonants have these differences from Standard Italian:[4][13]


  1. ^[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ "La lingua italiana, i dialetti e le lingue straniere Anno 2006" [The Italian language, dialects and foreign languages Year 2006] (PDF) (in Italian). 2006.
  3. ^ Larner, J. (1965). The Lords of Romagna: Romagnol Society and the Origins of the Signorie. Ithaca: New York.
  4. ^ a b Grementieri, S. (2012, January 7). The Romagnolo Dialect: A Short Study On its History, Grammar, and How it Survives [Scholarly project]. In Retrieved March 4, 2017, from
  5. ^ Cenni, I. (2013). Code-switching as an indicator of language shift: a case study of the Romagnolo dialect of Gatteo a Mare, Italy. 46th International Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Abstracts. Presented at the 46th International Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea.
  6. ^ a b Gregor, D. B. (1972). Romagnol Language and Literature. Stoughton Harrow: Oleander Press.
  7. ^ Alighieri, D. (1996). Dante: De vulgari eloquentia (S. Botterill, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ a b c d e Haller, H. W. (1999). The Other Italy: The Literary Canon in Dialect (Toronto Italian Studies). University of Toronto Press.
  9. ^ Pelliciardi, F. (1997).Grammatica del dialetto romagnolo: la lengva dla mi tera. Ravenna: Longo Editore.
  10. ^ Ledgeway, A., & Maiden, M. (Eds.). (2016).The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages(1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Vitali, D. (2008). L'ortografia romangnola [Scholarly project]. In Retrieved March 5, 2017, from
  12. ^ Vitali, Daniele; Pioggia, Davide (2010). Il dialetto di Rimini: Analisi fonologica e proposta ortografica.
  13. ^ Pelliciardi, Ferdinando (1977). Grammatica del dialetto romagnolo: la lèngva dla mi tëra. Ravenna: Longo.