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toscano, vernacolo
Native toItaly
RegionTuscany (except parts of the Province of Massa-Carrara)
Umbria (western border with Tuscany)
Corsica (as a variety)
Sardinia, Gallura (as a variety), Sassari (as a variety)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
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Tuscan (Italian: dialetto toscano [djaˈlɛtto tosˈkaːno; di.a-]; locally: vernacolo) is a set of Italo-Dalmatian varieties of Romance spoken in Tuscany, Corsica, and Sardinia.

Standard Italian is based on Tuscan, specifically on its Florentine dialect, and it became the language of culture throughout Italy[1] because of the prestige of the works by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Francesco Guicciardini. It later became the official language of all the Italian states and of the Kingdom of Italy when it was formed.


Dialects and languages of Italy by groups (Tuscan group in light shades of azure and violet)[2][3][4][5]

In De vulgari eloquentia (c. 1300), Dante Alighieri distinguishes four main subdialects: fiorentino (Florence), senese (Siena), lucchese (Lucca) and aretino (Arezzo).

Tuscan is a dialect complex composed of many local variants, with minor differences among them.

The main subdivisions are between Northern Tuscan dialects, the Southern Tuscan dialects, and Corsican.

The Northern Tuscan dialects are (from east to west):

The Southern Tuscan dialects are (from east to west):

Corsican on the island of Corsica and the Corso-Sardinian transitional varieties spoken in northern Sardinia (Gallurese and Sassarese) are classified by scholars as a direct offshoot from medieval Tuscan,[6] even though they now constitute a distinct linguistic group.


Excluding the inhabitants of Province of Massa and Carrara, who speak an Emilian dialect, and people in the area of Tuscan Romagna, speaking Romagnol, around 3.5 million people speak Tuscan.

Dialectal features

Tuscan as a whole has certain defining features, with subvarieties that are distinguished by minor details.


Tuscan gorgia

The Tuscan gorgia affects the voiceless stop consonants /k/, /t/, and /p/. They are usually pronounced as fricatives in post-vocalic position when not blocked by the competing phenomenon of syntactic gemination:

Weakening of G and C

A similar phonological alternation is the intervocalic weakening of the Italian "soft" g, the voiced affricate /dʒ/ (g as in judge) and "soft" c, the voiceless affricate /tʃ/ (ch as in church), known as attenuation, or, more commonly, as deaffrication.

Between vowels, the voiced post-alveolar affricate consonant is realized as voiced post-alveolar fricative (s and z in the English measure and azure):


This phenomenon is very evident in daily speech (common also in Umbria and elsewhere in Central Italy): the phrase la gente, 'the people', in Standard Italian is pronounced [la ˈdʒɛnte], but in Tuscan it is [la ˈʒɛnte].

Similarly, the voiceless post-alveolar affricate is pronounced as a voiceless post-alveolar fricative between two vowels:


The sequence /la ˈtʃena/ la cena, 'the dinner', in Standard Italian is pronounced [la ˈtʃeːna], but in Tuscan, it is [la ˈʃeːna]. As a result of the weakening rule, there are a few minimal pairs distinguished only by length of the voiceless fricative (e.g. [laʃeˈrɔ] lacerò 'it/he/she ripped' vs. [laʃʃeˈrɔ] lascerò 'I will leave/let').

Affrication of S

A less common phonetic phenomenon is the realization of "voiceless s" (voiceless alveolar fricative /s/) as the voiceless alveolar affricate [ts] when preceded by /r/, /l/, or /n/.


For example, il sole (the sun), pronounced in Standard Italian as [il ˈsoːle], would be in theory pronounced [il ˈtsoːle] in Tuscan. However, since assimilation of the final consonant of the article to the following consonant tends to occur in exactly such cases (see "Masculine definite articles" below) the actual pronunciation will be usually [is ˈsoːle]. Affrication of /s/ can more commonly be heard word-internally, as in falso (false) /ˈfalso/[ˈfaltso]. It is a common phenomenon in Central Italy but is not exclusive to that area; for example, it also occurs in Switzerland (Canton Ticino). It does not occur in a small area including Florence (except Rifredi [it]) and Prato.[7]

No diphthongization of /ɔ/

There are two Tuscan historical outcomes of Latin ŏ in stressed open syllables. Passing first through a stage /ɔ/, the vowel has then developed as a diphthong [wɔ]. The phenomenon never gained universal acceptance, however, and so forms with the diphthong have come to be accepted as Standard Italian (e.g. fuoco, buono, nuovo, duomo), but the monophthong remains in popular speech (foco, bono, novo, domo).


Accusative "te" for "tu"

A characteristic of Tuscan dialect is the use of the accusative pronoun te in emphatic clauses of the type "You! What are you doing here?".

Double dative pronoun

A morphological phenomenon, cited also by Alessandro Manzoni in his masterpiece "I promessi sposi" (The Betrothed), is the doubling of the dative pronoun.

For the use of a personal pronoun as indirect object (to someone, to something), also called dative case, the standard Italian makes use of a construction preposition + pronoun a me (to me), or it makes use of a synthetic pronoun form, mi (to me). The Tuscan dialect makes use of both in the same sentence as a kind of intensification[citation needed] of the dative/indirect object:

This usage is widespread throughout the central regions of Italy, not only in Tuscany, and is often considered redundant and erroneous by language purists. It is also a standard feature in Spanish: a mí me gusta ("I like it")

In some dialects, the double accusative pronoun me mi vedi (lit: You see me me) can be heard, but that is considered to be an archaic form.

Masculine definite articles

The singular and plural masculine definite articles can both be realized phonetically as [i] in Florentine varieties of Tuscan but are distinguished by their phonological effect on following consonants. The singular causes the lengthening of the following consonant: [i kkaːne] 'the dog'. However, the plural permits consonant weakening: [i haːni] 'the dogs'. As in Italian, the masculine singular lo occurs before consonants long by nature or not permitting /l/ in clusters (lo zio 'the uncle', lo studente 'the student'), but forms such as i zio can be heard in rustic varieties.

Noi + impersonal si

A morpholosyntactic phenomenon that is found throughout Tuscany is the personal use of the particle identical to impersonal si (not to be confused with passive si or the reflexive si), as the first-person plural. That is basically the same as the use of on in French.

It is possible to use the construction si + third-person in singular verb, which can be preceded by the first-plural person pronoun noi.

The phenomenon is found in all verb tenses, including compound tenses. In those tenses, the use of si requires a form of essere (to be) as auxiliary verb. If the verb is one that otherwise selects auxiliary avere in compound constructions, the past participle does not agree with the subject in gender and number:

If the verb normally requires essere, the past participle is marked as plural:

Usually, si contracts before è: si è → s'è.

Fo (faccio) and vo (vado)

Another morphological phenomenon present in Tuscan is what might appear to be shortening of first singular verb forms in the present tense of fare (to do, to make) and andare (to go).

These forms have two origins. Natural phonological change alone can account for loss of /d/ and reduction of /ao/ to /o/ in the case of /vado/ > */vao/ > /vo/. A case such as Latin sapio > Italian so (I know), however, admits no such phonological account since the expected outcome of /sapio/ would be */sappjo/, with a normal lengthening of the consonant preceding /j/.

What seems to have taken place is a realignment of the paradigm in accordance with the statistically-minor but highly-frequent paradigms of dare (give) and stare (be, stay). Thus so, sai, sa, sanno (all singulars and the third-person plural of 'know') has come to fit the template of do, dai, dà, danno ('give'), sto, stai, sta, stanno ('be, stay'), and fo, fai, fa, fanno ('make, do') has followed the same pattern. The form vo, while quite possibly a natural phonological development, seems to have been reinforced by analogy in this case.

Loss of infinitival "-re"

A phonological phenomenon that might appear to be morphological is the loss of the infinitival ending -re of verbs.

Stress remains on the same vowel that is stressed in the full form and so the infinitive may coincide with various conjugated singulars: pèrde 'to lose', pèrde 's/he loses'; finì 'to finish', finì 's/he finished'. This homophony seldom, if ever, causes confusion, as they usually appear in distinct syntactic contexts.

The infinitive without -re is universal in some subtypes such as Pisano-Livornese, but in the vicinity of Florence, alternations are regular and so the full infinitive (e.g. vedere 'to see') appears before a pause, and the clipped form (vedé) is found otherwise. The consonant of an enclitic is lengthened if it is preceded by stressed vowel (vedéllo 'to see it', portàcci 'to bring us') but not when the preceding vowel of the infinitive is unstressed (lèggelo 'to read it', pèrdeti 'to lose you').

A similar process is found in Romanian, with infinitives cited as a ("to") + the verb, and the -re has been dropped. As in Tuscan, the stress is on the same syllable that had it before the loss of -re.

In Catalan and its dialects, in Campidanese Sardinian and for some Portuguese-speakers, final infinitive -r is not pronounced and so anar is pronounced /ə'na/.

A phenomenon similar in origin in French has led to loss of both /r/ and final /e/ in the -are class of infinitives at an early stage and so the final syllable of Modern French aimer, chanter etc. is pronounced as stressed [e].


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The most important differences among dialects is in the lexicon, which also distinguishes the different subdialects. The Tuscan lexicon is almost entirely shared with Standard Italian, but many words may be perceived as obsolete or literary by non-Tuscans. There are also many strictly-regional words and expressions.

Characteristically-Tuscan words:

See also


  1. ^ "storia della lingua in "Enciclopedia dell'Italiano"".
  2. ^ "Ali, Linguistic atlas of Italy". Retrieved 2013-11-22.
  3. ^ Linguistic cartography of Italy by Padova University Archived May 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Italian dialects by Pellegrini". Archived from the original on 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
  5. ^ AIS, Sprach- und Sachatlas Italiens und der Südschweiz, Zofingen 1928-1940
  6. ^ Harris, Martin; Vincent, Nigel (1997). Romance Languages. London: Routlegde. ISBN 0-415-16417-6.
  7. ^ Castellani, Arrigo (1993). "Zeta per esse dopo liquida o nasale a Firenze?". Studi linguistici italiani (in Italian). 19: 53–61.