Dalmatian language

Dalmatian (/dælˈmʃən/)[2][3] or Dalmatic (/dælˈmætɪk/;[2] Dalmatian: langa dalmata or simply dalmato; Italian: lingua dalmatica, dalmatico; Croatian: dalmatski) is an extinct Romance language that was spoken in the Dalmatia region of present-day Croatia, and as far south as Kotor in Montenegro.[citation needed] The name refers to a tribe of the Illyrian linguistic group, Dalmatae. The Ragusan dialect of Dalmatian, the most studied prestige dialect, was the official language of the Republic of Ragusa for much of its medieval history until it was gradually supplanted by other local languages.

dalmato, langa dalmata
RegionDalmatia (most of the Croatian Adriatic coast, Croatian islands, Montenegrin Bay of Kotor)
Extinct10 June 1898 (death of Tuone Udaina)
Revival20th century (L2 users: 20 fluent Dalmatian speakers and more than one hundred people with some knowledge of the language.[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3dlm

Dalmatian speakers lived in the coastal towns of Zadar (Jadera), Trogir (Tragur, Traù), Spalato (Split; Spalato), Ragusa (Dubrovnik; Raugia, Ragusa), and Kotor (Cattaro), each of these cities having a local dialect, and on the islands of Krk (Vikla, Veglia), Cres (Crepsa), and Rab (Arba).[citation needed]


Almost every city developed its own dialect. Most of these became extinct before they were recorded, so the only trace of these ancient dialects is some words borrowed into local dialects of today's Croatia and Montenegro.[4]

Ragusan dialectEdit

Republic of Ragusa before 1808

Ragusan is the Southern dialect, whose name is derived from the Romance name of Dubrovnik, Ragusa. It came to the attention of modern scholars in two letters, from 1325 and 1397, and other mediaeval texts, which show a language influenced heavily by Venetian. The available sources include some 260 Ragusan words including pen 'bread', teta 'father', chesa 'house', and fachir 'to do', which were quoted by the Italian Filippo Diversi, the rector of the Ragusan grammar school in the 1430s.[citation needed]

The Maritime Republic of Ragusa had a large and important fleet, by the 15th century numbering about 300 ships.[5] The language was threatened by the Slav expansion, as the Ragusan Senate decided that all debates had to be held in the lingua veteri ragusea (ancient Ragusan language) and the use of the Slav was forbidden. Nevertheless, during the 16th century, the Ragusan Romance language fell out of use and became extinct.[citation needed]

Vegliot dialectEdit

Vegliot or Vegliote (the native name being Viklasun)[6] is the Northern dialect. Its name is derived from the Italian name of Krk, Veglia, an island in Kvarner, called Vikla in Vegliot. On an inscription dating from the beginning of the 4th century CE, Krk is named as Splendissima civitas Curictarum. The Serbo-Croatian name derives from the Roman name (Curicum, Curicta), whereas the younger name Vecla, Vegla, Veglia (meaning "Old Town") was created in the mediaeval Romanesque period.[citation needed]


Areas of Dalmatian dialects.

Dalmatian evolved from the vulgar Latin of the Illyro-Romans. It was spoken on the Dalmatian coast from Fiume (now Rijeka) as far south as Cattaro (Kotor) in Montenegro. Speakers lived mainly in the coastal towns of Jadera (Zadar), Tragurium (Trogir), Spalatum[7] (Split), Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and Acruvium (Kotor), and also on the islands of Curicta (Krk), Crepsa (Cres) and Arba (Rab). Almost every city developed its own dialect, but the most important dialects that are known of were Vegliot, a northern dialect spoken on the island of Curicta, and Ragusan, a southern dialect spoken in and around Ragusa (Dubrovnik).[citation needed]

The oldest preserved documents written in Dalmatian are 13th century inventories in Ragusa (Dubrovnik). Dalmatian is also known from two Ragusan letters, dated 1325 and 1397. The available sources include roughly 260 Ragusan words. Surviving words include pen 'bread', teta 'father', chesa 'house', and fachir 'to do', which were quoted by the Dalmatian Filippo Diversi, Rector of the republic of Ragusa in the 1430s. The earliest reference to the Dalmatian language dates from the tenth century and it has been estimated that about 50,000 people spoke it at that time.[8] After the loss of Ragusa, Dalmatian was no longer the language of any urban center, and it developed no written tradition. Udaina's Vegliote is considerably influenced by Venetian, which was in fact his native language -- his "Vegliote" was in fact his recollection of the language he had once spoken with his long-deceased grandmother, and had grown up hearing his parents speaking.[8]

Dalmatian was influenced particularly heavily by Venetian and Serbo-Croatian (despite the latter, the Latin roots of Dalmatian remained prominent). A 14th-century letter from Zadar (origin of the Iadera dialect) shows strong influence from Venetian, the language that after years under Venetian rule superseded Iadera and other dialects of Dalmatian. Other dialects met their demise with the settlement of populations of Slavic speakers.[citation needed]


Tuone Udaina, the last speaker of Dalmatian

In 1897, the scholar Matteo Bartoli, himself a native of nearby Istria, visited a burbur ('barber' in Dalmatian[citation needed]) Tuone Udaina (Italian: Antonio Udina), the last speaker of any Dalmatian dialect, to study his language, writing down approximately 2,800 words, stories, and accounts of his life, which were published in a book that has provided much information on the vocabulary, phonology, and grammar of the language. Bartoli wrote in Italian and published a translation in German (Das Dalmatische) in 1906. The Italian language manuscripts were reportedly lost, and the work was not re-translated into Italian until 2001.[citation needed]

Just one year later, on 10 June 1898, Tuone Udaina was accidentally killed at 74 in a roadwork explosion.[9][10]


In the most recent classification from 2017 it was classified by the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History with the Istriot language in the Dalmatian Romance subgroup.[11]

It was once thought to be a language that bridged the gap between Romanian and Italian, but it was only distantly related to the nearby Romanian dialects, such as the nearly extinct Istro-Romanian spoken in nearby Istria, Croatia.

Some of its features are quite archaic. Dalmatian is the only Romance language that has palatalised /k/ and /ɡ/ before /i/, but not before /e/ (all the others have palatalised them in both situations, except Sardinian, which has not palatalised them at all[12]): Latin: civitate > Vegliot: cituot ("city"), Latin: cenare > Vegliot: kenur ("to dine").[citation needed]

Some Dalmatian words have been preserved as borrowings in South Slavic languages, in Chakavian and the Dubrovnik dialect of Shtokavian.[citation needed]

Similarities to Balkan Romance languagesEdit

Among the similarities with Balkan Romance languages, some phonemic shifts can be found among the Romance languages only in Dalmatian and Balkan Romance. These evolutions show that the Dalmatian may be more related to the Balkan Romance than to the Italo Romance (Italo Dalmatian).[13][14][15]

Origin Result Latin Vegliot Romanian Aromanian Italian English
/kt/ /pt/ octo guapto opt optu otto eight
/ŋn/ /mn/ cognatus comnut cumnat cumnat cognato brother-in-law
/ks/ /ps/ coxa copsa coapsă coapsã coscia thigh
/e/ /a/ septem sapto șapte shapti sette seven
/ke/ /k/ placet pluc plac plac piace I like
/g/ /g/ fagum faguor fag fag faggio beech
/kwi/ /tʃi/, /tsi/ quintus cincto cincelea tsimtu quinto fifth
/kul/ /kl/ oculus uaclo ochi oclju occhio eye
/mn/ /mn/ somnus samno somn somnu sonno dream
/kt/ /kt/ perfectus perfaict perfect perfectu perfetto perfect

In addition there are some Romance words that are unique to Balkan Romance and Dalmatian. For example jualb (white), basalca (church) and inteliguar (understand) correspond to the Romanian alb, biserică and intelege instead of the Italian bianco, chiesa and capire.[13][14][15]

Vlachs/Morlachs from Dalmatia and their languageEdit

Vlachs (Aromanians) from Herzegovina and Dalmatia were known as "Caravlachs" during Turkish occupation. "Cara" means black in Turkish and North in Turkish geography. Translated into Greek, the name became Morlachs (from Mauro Vlachs).[16] Vlachs or Morlachs spoke a language close to Romanian.[17] Vlachs or Morlachs spread into all Dalmatian areas including Adriatic isles and towns. The majority were Slavicized and many of them were Islamized or Catholicized.[18] Today there are only a dozen Morlachs in Croatia and they have lost their maternal Romance spoken language.


An analytic trend can be observed in Dalmatian: nouns and adjectives began to lose their gender and number inflexions, the noun declension disappeared completely, and the verb conjugations began to follow the same path, but the verb maintained a person and number distinction except in the third person (in common with Romanian and several dialects of Italy).[citation needed]

The definite article precedes the noun, unlike in the Eastern Romance languages like Romanian, which have it postposed to the noun.[citation needed]


Dalmatian kept Latin words related to urban life, lost (or if preserved, not with the original sense) in Romanian, such as cituot "city" (in old Romanian cetate means "city"; in modern Romanian "fort"; compare also Albanian qytet, borrowed from Latin, which, too, means "city"). The Dalmatians retained an active urban society in their city-states, whereas most Romanians were driven into small mountain settlements during the Great Migrations of 400 to 800 AD.[19]

Venetian became a major influence on the language as Venetian commercial influence grew. The Chakavian dialect and Dubrovnik Shtokavian dialect of Serbo-Croatian, which were spoken outside the cities since the immigration of the Slavs, gained importance in the cities by the 16th century, and it eventually replaced Dalmatian as the day-to-day language. Nevertheless, some words were loaned into coastal Serbo-Croatian varieties:

  • Dubrovnik: CL antemna > otijemna "sail pole"; columna > kelomna "pillar, column"; ficatum > pìkat "liver"; lucerna > lùk(i)jerna "oil lamp"; lixivum > lìksija "lye"; oculata > úkljata "black-tail sparus, Sparus melanurus"; recessa > rèkesa "ebb tide";
  • Standard Croatian: arbor(em) > jȃrbor, jarbol (Slovenian jambor) "mast"; aurata > òvrata, obrata "gilt-head bream"; canaba > kònoba "(wine) cellar, cellar bar"; lolligo, -inem > òliganj, lȉganj, lȉgnja "squid"; margo, -inem > mr̀gin(j), mrganj "furrow or ditch marking a border"; tracta > trakta "dragnet, trawl", etc.[20]


As Dalmatian was mainly an oral language, there is not much literature preserved in it; only some fragments collected in a book by Antonio Ive and a few unpublished texts in archives still unknown to the public. But there are some works written in revived Dalmatian, as, for example, the short poetry book "Adi la raipa de mi jeuntut".[citation needed]


The following are examples of the Lord's Prayer in Latin, Dalmatian, Serbo-Croatian, Friulian, Italian, Istro-Romanian and Romanian:

Latin Dalmatian Serbo-Croatian Friulian Italian Istro-Romanian Romanian English Spanish
Pater noster, qui es in caelis, Tuota nuester, che te sante intel sil, Oče naš, koji jesi na nebesima, Pari nestri, che tu sês in cîl, Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli, Ciace nostru car le ști en cer, Tatăl nostru care ești în ceruri, Our Father, who art in heaven, Padre nuestro, que estás en los cielos,
sanctificetur Nomen Tuum. sait santificuot el naun to. sveti se ime tvoje. che al sedi santifiât il to nom. sia santificato il tuo nome. neca se sveta nomelu teu. sfințească-se numele tău. hallowed be thy name. santificado sea tu nombre.
Adveniat Regnum Tuum. Vigna el raigno to. dođi kraljevstvo Tvoje. Che al vegni il to ream. Venga il tuo regno. Neca venire craliestvo to. Vie împărăția ta. Thy kingdom come. Venga a nosotros tu reino.
Fiat voluntas Tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra. Sait fuot la voluntuot toa, coisa in sil, coisa in tiara. budi volja Tvoja, kako na nebu tako i na zemlji. Che e sedi fate la tô volontât sicu in cîl cussì ancje in tiere. Sia fatta la tua volontà, come in cielo così in terra. Neca fie volia ta, cum en cer, așa și pre pemânt. Facă-se voia ta, precum în cer, așa și pe pământ. Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Hágase tu voluntad, en la tierra como en el cielo.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie. Duote costa dai el pun nuester cotidiun. Kruh naš svagdanji daj nam danas. Danus vuê il nestri pan cotidian. Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano. Pera nostre saca zi de nam astez. Pâinea noastră cea de toate zilele, dă-ne-o nouă astăzi. Give us this day our daily bread. Danos hoy nuestro pan de cada día.
Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, E remetiaj le nuestre debete, I otpusti nam duge naše, E pardoninus i nestris debits, E rimetti a noi i nostri debiti, Odproste nam dutzan, Și ne iartă nouă păcatele noastre, And forgive us our trespasses, Perdona nuestras ofensas.
Sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Coisa nojiltri remetiaime a i nuestri debetuar. Kako i mi otpuštamo dužnicima našim. Sicu ancje nô ur ai pardonìn ai nestris debitôrs. Come noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori. Ca și noi odprostim a lu nostri dutznici. Precum și noi le iertăm greșiților noștri. As we forgive those who trespass against us. Como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, E naun ne menur in tentatiaun, I ne uvedi nas u napast, E no stâ menânus in tentazion, E non ci indurre in tentazione, Neca nu na tu vezi en napastovanie, Și nu ne duce pe noi în ispită, And lead us not into temptation, No nos dejes caer en tentación.
sed libera nos a Malo. miu deleberiajne dal mal. nego izbavi nas od zla. ma liberinus dal mâl. ma liberaci dal male. neca na zbăvește de zvaca slabe. ci ne izbăvește de cel rău. but deliver us from evil. y líbranos del mal.
Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen! Amin! Amen! ¡Amén!

Parable of the Prodigal SonEdit

Dalmatian: E el daic: Jon ciairt jomno ci avaja doi feil, e el plé pedlo de louro daic a soa tuota: Tuota duoteme la puarte de moi luc, che me toca, e jul spartait tra louro la sostuanza e dapù pauch dai, mais toich indajoi el feil ple pedlo andait a la luorga, e luoc el dissipuat toich el soo, viviand malamiant. Muà el ju venait in se stiass, daic: quinci jomni de journata Cn cuassa da me tuota i ju bonduanza de puan e cua ju muor de fum.
English: And He said: There was a man who had two sons, and the younger of them said to his father: "Father give me the share of his property that will belong to me." So he divided the property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and travelled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. But when he came to himself he said: "How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger."

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN 9781405881180
  3. ^ Roach, Peter (2011), Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521152532
  4. ^ "Encyclopedia Britannica". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  5. ^ Appendini, Francesco Maria (1803). Notizie Istorico-Critiche Sulla Antichita, Storia, e Letteratura de' Ragusei [Historico-critical news on antiquity, history and literature of Ragusei] (in Italian). Ragusa: Martecchini.
  6. ^ Bartoli, 2000
  7. ^ Colloquia Maruliana, Vol. 12 Travanj 2003. Zarko Muljacic — On the Dalmato-Romance in Marulić's Works (hrcak.srce.hr). Split Romance (Spalatin) are extant by the author. Zarko Muljacic has set off in the only way possible, the indirect way of attempting to trace the secrets of its historical phonology by analysing any lexemes of possible Dalmato-Romance origin that have been preserved in Marulić's Croatian works.
  8. ^ a b Maiden, Martin (2016). "Dalmatian". In Ledgeway and Maiden (2016), The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages. Oxford University Press. Page 126
  9. ^ Roegiest, Eugeen (2006). Vers les sources des langues romanes: un itinéraire linguistique à travers la Romania [Towards the Sources of the Romance Languages: A Linguistic Route Through Romania] (in French). ACCO. p. 138. ISBN 90-334-6094-7.
  10. ^ Brahms, William B. (2005). Notable Last Facts: A Compendium of Endings, Conclusions, Terminations and Final Events Throughout History. Reference Desk Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-9765325-0-7.
  11. ^ "Dalmatian Romance". Glottolog.
  12. ^ Lorenzo Renzi, Alvise Andreose (2009). Manuale di linguistica e filologia romanza. Il Mulino. p. 58.
  13. ^ a b Swiggers 2011, p. 272.
  14. ^ a b Sampson 1999, p. 298.
  15. ^ a b Hall 1950, p. 24.
  16. ^ Cicerone Poghirc, Romanizarea lingvistică și culturală în Balcani. In: Aromânii, istorie, limbă, destin. Coord. Neagu Giuvara, București, Editura Humanitas, 2012, p.17, ISBN 978-973-50-3460-3
  17. ^ Fine, John V. A. (1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. p. 19.
  18. ^ Silviu Dragomir, Vlahii și morlacii. Studiu din istoria românismului balcanic, Ed. Imprimeria Bornemisa, 1924, p.64
  19. ^ Florin Curta (2006). Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500–1250. Cambridge medieval textbooks. Cambridge University Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-521-81539-0. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  20. ^ Manfred Trummer, “Südosteuropäische Sprachen und Romanisch”, Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik, vol. 7: Kontakt, Migration und Kunstsprachen. Kontrastivität, Klassifikation und Typologie, eds. Günter Holtus, Michael Metzeltin & Christian Schmitt (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1998), 162.


External linksEdit