Chipilo Venetian dialect

Chipilo Venetian, or Chipileño, is a diaspora language currently spoken by the descendants of some five hundred 19th century immigrants to Mexico from the Veneto region of Northeastern Italy. The immigrants settled in the State of Puebla, founding the city of Chipilo. The language is also spoken in Mexico in communities in Veracruz and Querétaro, places where the chipileños settled as well.

Chipilo Venetian
Native toMexico
Native speakers
2,500 (2011)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
A Chipileño speaker, recorded in the United States.


Immigrants mainly from the comune of Segusino, some 60 km northwest of Venice, arrived in 1868, at which point contact with speakers of the language in its homeland and elsewhere was reduced to near nil. The community maintained its unique culture and language as a linguistic enclave, in contact with Nahuan languages and Spanish. Although the city of Puebla has grown to almost absorb it, the town of Chipilo remained isolated for much of the 20th century. Thus, the chipileños, unlike other European immigrants that came to Mexico, did not absorb much of the Mexican culture, retaining most of their traditions and their language. The variant of the Venetan language spoken by the chipileños is the northern Traixàn-Fheltrìn-Bełumàt of Segusino, Treviso. It has barely altered through contact with Spanish, compared to the language shift occurring in northern Veneto of Italy.

Chipileño Veneto OrthographyEdit

As with all languages that do not have a current written tradition, Chipileño Veneto, has various issues. One of those is the problem of finding a comprehensive orthography. There have been several attempts to establish a writing system for the language spoken in Chipilo. One such system was created by Carolyn McKay, an American linguist who conducted postgraduate research at the Universidad de las Américas. Her proposed system, based entirely on the Italian alphabet, was published in a book entitled Il dialetto veneto di Segusino e Chipilo. This system has been used in some publications made by Cipiłàn/chipileños, but it has not received wide acceptance because of the striking differences between Venetian and Italian orthographic representation of phonemes. Most of the speakers use the Spanish system they learn at school, even though it does not have letters for specific sounds such as the voiced-S (written ⟨x⟩ in modern Venetan), or the [θ] (written ⟨th⟩ in modern Venetan), and [ð] (written ⟨dh⟩ in modern Venetan). Nevertheless, Eduardo Montagner, an Italo-Mexican from Chipilo, has suggested the standardization of a writing system based on the Spanish alphabet. In response to this, MacKay developed a system based on the Spanish orthography, which she presents in her Spanish book "El Véneto de Segusino y Chipilo" (2017), in which she states that one of the issues of orthography development is the problem of finding one that is comprehensive.

For linguists it is important that each sound is represented by a symbol (or letter) that distinguishes from others; nevertheless, a phonetic transcription would have to use symbols that are alien to those who are not linguists. Mackay's transcription adopts a simple to use orthography which also maintains necessary distinctions. In Chipilo an Italian-based orthography is not used, instead one based principally on Spanish is preferred. This is easier to use on a keyboard, and the familiarity of graphemes used for Spanish reduces the possibility of confusion. For example, to represent the palatal nasal /ɲ/ in the word meaning 'nothing', Italian norms require a digraph, thus gnent, whereas the Spanish system provides a uniquely interpretable single grapheme familiar to Chipileños schooled in Mexico: ñent.

Some considerations:

a) the grave accent is used with è and ò to indicate that the pronunciation of the vowel is open, e.g. [ɛ] spècho (mirror) and [ɔ] stòrder (twist);

b) the acute accent is used to indicate an undetermined tonic accent

c) ‘zh’ is used to indicate the voiceless dental fricative (θ) e.g. giazh (ice)

d) ‘ch’ is used to represent the voiceless postalveolar affricate (t͡ʃ) e.g., chacholar (converse), ranch (spider) or schec (cheese)

e) ‘ge’ or ‘gi’ is used for the voiced postalveolar affricate (ʤ) which does not exist in Spanish orthography. Thus, Chipileño Veneto orthography follows the Italian model in this respect e.g. génderna (nit), giazh (ice), giozh (drop) or giust (right)

f) ‘que’ or ‘qui’ represent the voiceless velar stop (k) when followed by ‘e’ or ‘i’ and with ‘c’ when followed by ‘a’, ‘o’, and ‘u’. This follows the Spanish model e.g. quizha (glandular inflammation), cavar su (tear), bianc (white)

g) ‘gue’ and ‘gui’ represent the voiced velar stop (ɡ) when followed by ‘e’ and ‘i’ and ‘g’ when followed by ‘a’, ‘o’, and ‘u’ e.g. guirla (swirl), galozhada (kick), góder (enjoy), guzá (sharp)

h) represents the semiconsonant (j/y) when it is in a clear consonantal position e.g. yozha (drop), it does not form part of a diphthong.[2]


a [a] adès ahora adesso now
e [e] vert verde verde green
è [ɛ] vèrt abierto aperto open
i [i] instès lo mismo lo stesso the same
o [o] vodo vacio vuoto empty
ò [ɔ] còt cocido cotto cooked
u [u] uvi huevos uova eggs


b [b] baset bajito basso (diminutive) shortish
c [k] calt caliente caldo hot
c [k] zhonc hongo fungo mushroom
c [k] cuant cuanto quanto how much
qui/que [ki, ke] qui quien chi who
che/chi [t͡ʃ] cheza iglesia chiesa church
cha/cho/chu [t͡ʃ] pedòcho piojo pidocchio louse
d [ð] mèdo medio mezzo medium
f [f] fogo fuego fuoco fire
g [g] gucha suéter maglione sweater
gui/gue [gi, ge] brague pantalones pantaloni trousers
gi/ge [ʤ] gelos celoso geloso jealous
gia/gio/giu [ʤ] giazh hielo ghiaccio ice
l [l] laorar trabajar lavorare to work
m [m] mare madre madre mother
n [n] naranzha naranja arancia orange
ñ [ɲ] ñir venir venire come
p [p] poaret pobrecito poverino poor
r [r] reoltar revolver mescolare mix
s- [s] sántola madrina madrina godmother
-s [s] filos afilado affilato sharp
-s- [s] cusí así così thus
s [s] mascho macho maschio male
s [z] sbayar ladrar abbaiare to bark
t [t] techa cacerola padella pan
v [v, b] volp zorra cagna vixen
y [j, y] yeya tia zia aunt
z-, -z-, -z [z] paeze pueblo paese village
zh [θ] zhúquero azúcar zucchero sugar

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Venetian (Mexico) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Mackay, Carolyn J. (1992). "Language maintenance in Chipilo: a Veneto dialect in Mexico". International Journal of the Sociology of Language. 96 (1). doi:10.1515/ijsl.1992.96.129. ISSN 0165-2516. S2CID 144023111.

External linksEdit