Emilian dialects

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Emilian (Reggian, Parmesan and Modenese: emigliân, Bolognese emiliàn; Italian: emiliano) is a Gallo-Italic unstandardised language spoken in the historical region of Emilia, which is now in the northwestern part of Emilia-Romagna, Northern Italy.

emigliân, emigliàn,
PronunciationIPA: [emiˈʎaːŋ]
Native toItaly
RegionPrimarly Emilia
border variants spoken in near Lombardy and Venice provinces
Ethnicity13 million (2020)[1]
Native speakers
c. 9.3 million (2019 estimate) (2019)[2]
Dialectssee Dialectal variety section
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Slovenia[citation needed]
Language codes
ISO 639-3egl
Linguasphere51-AAA-oka ... -okh
Pruveins itajani in Emeja.png
Emilian speaking provinces of Emilia Romagna region and surrounding regions
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Emilian has a default word order of subject–verb–object and both grammatical gender (masculine and feminine) and grammatical number (singular and plural). There is a strong T–V distinction, which distinguishes varying levels of politeness, social distance, courtesy, familiarity or insult. The alphabet, largely adapted from the Italian (Tuscan) one, uses a considerable number of diacritics.


Emilian is a Gallo-Italic unstandardized language, part of the Emilian-Romagnol dialect continuum with the bordering Romagnol varieties.

Besides Romagnol, the Gallo-Italic family includes Piedmontese, Ligurian and Lombard, all of which maintain a level of mutual intelligibility with Emilian.

Dialectal varietiesEdit

The historical and geographical fragmentation of Emilian communities, divided in many local administrations (as signorie then duchies, with reciprocal exchanges of land), has caused a high dialectal fragmentation, to the point the existence of an Emilian koiné has been questioned.

Linguasphere Observatory recognises the following dialects:[3]

Other definitions include the following:[citation needed]

  • Massese (mixed with some Tuscan features)
  • Casalasco, spoken in Casalmaggiore, Lombardy.
  • Comacchiese, as distinct from Ferrarese


There is no widespread standard orthography. The words below are written in a nonspecific Emilian script.

Words in Emilian[4][5]
Emilian IPA English
êit, èlt [ɛ:jt] high
lêregh [ˈlɛ:rɐg] wide
longh, loangh [loŋg] long, tall
tōl, tegh [to:l], [teg] to take
fâṡ, fâż [fa:z] / [fa:ð̠] beech
bdoall [b.dœl] birch
znêr, żnèr [ð̠nɛ:r] January
fervêr [fɐrˈvɛr] February
ed, ad [ɐd] and
dîṡ [di:z] to say, ten (only in Bolognese)
ê, é [e] (he/she) is
aloura [ɐˈlɔu̯rɐ] so, then



Consonants in the Bolognese dialect
Labial Dental Alveolar Post-alv./
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f θ s
voiced v ð z
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Rhotic r
Approximant central j w
lateral l ʎ
  • Affricate sounds [t͡s, d͡z] can also be heard as alternates of fricative sounds /θ, ð/ particularly among southern dialects.
  • In the Piacentino dialect, an /r/ sound can be heard as either an alveolar trill [r], or as a uvular fricative [ʁ] sound.

Writing systemEdit

Emilian is written using a Latin script that has never been standardised, and spelling varies widely among the dialects.

The dialects were largely oral and rarely written until some time in the late 20th century; a large amount of written media in Emilian has been created since World War II.


Front Central Back
Close i iː y u uː
Mid e eː ø ə o oː
ɛ ɛː œ ʌ ɔ ɔː
Open æ a aː
  • Rounded front vowel sounds /y, ø, œ/ and a mid-central vowel sound /ə/ are mainly common in the Piacentino and western dialects.
  • In the Piacentino dialect, five vowel sounds being followed by /n/, are then recognized as nasalized [ĩ ẽ ã õ ũ], unless /n/ occurs between two vowel sounds.
  • Vowel length is also distinguished for the following vowels [iː eː ɛː aː ɔː oː uː].[6][7][8]


  1. ^ Miani, Ivan (12 April 2008). "Request for New Language Code Element in ISO 639-3, page 1ISO 639-3 Registration Authority Request for New Language Code Element in ISO 639-3" (PDF). iso639-3.sil.org. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  2. ^ Istituto nazionale di statistica (20 April 2007). La lingua italiana, i dialetti e le lingue straniere, Anno 2006 [The Italian language, dialects and foreign languages, Year 2006] (PDF) (in Italian). Retrieved 17 December 2012 – via portal-lem.com.
  3. ^ "51-AAA-ok. emiliano + romagnolo". Linguasphere.
  4. ^ Lepri, Luigi; Vitali, Daniele (2007). Dizionario bolognese-italiano, italiano bolognese / Dizionèri bulgnais-itagliàn, itagliàn-bulugnais (in Italian). Bologna: Pendragon. ISBN 978-88-8342-594-3.
  5. ^ Vocabolario reggiano-italiano (in Italian). Reggio: Torreggiani. 1832 – via Biblioteca Panizzi.
  6. ^ Foresti, Fabio (2009). Profilo linguistico dell'Emilia-Romagna (in Italian). Roma: Laterza.
  7. ^ Lepri, Luigi; Vitali, Daniele (2009). Dizionario bolognese-italiano italiano-bolognese / Dizionèri bulgnaiṡ-itagliàn itagliàn-bulgnaiṡ (2nd ed.). Bologna: Pendragon.
  8. ^ Hajek, John (1997). "Emilia-Romagna". In Maiden, Martin; Parry, Mair (eds.). The Dialects of Italy. London: Routledge. p. 275.


  • Luca Rognoni, Il sistema fonologico del dialetto modenese. L'Italia Dialettale 74, pp. 135–148, 2013.
  • Colombini, F. 2007. La negazione nei dialetti emiliani: microvariazione nell’area modenese. University of Padua, MA Thesis.

Further readingEdit

  • Pietro Mainoldi, Manuale dell'odierno dialetto bolognese, Suoni e segni, Grammatica – Vocabolario, Bologna, Società tipografica Mareggiani 1950 (Rist. anast.: Sala Bolognese, A. Forni 2000)
  • Fabio Foresti, Bibliografia dialettale dell'Emilia-Romagna e della Repubblica di San Marino (BDER), Bologna, IBACN Emilia-Romagna / Compositori 1997
  • E. F. Tuttle, Nasalization in Northern Italy: Syllabic Constraints and Strength Scales as Developmental Parameters, Rivista di Linguistica, III: 23–92 (1991)
  • Luigi Lepri e Daniele Vitali, Dizionario Bolognese-Italiano Italiano-Bolognese, ed. Pendragon 2007

External linksEdit