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Ligurian (Romance language)

Ligurian (ligure or lengua ligure) is a Gallo-Italic language spoken in Liguria in Northern Italy, parts of the Mediterranean coastal zone of France, Monaco and in the villages of Carloforte and Calasetta in Sardinia. It is part of the Gallo-Italic and Western Romance dialect continuum. The Genoese (Zeneize), spoken in Genoa, the capital of Liguria, is the language's prestige dialect on which the standard is based.

Ligure, Zeneize
Pronunciation [ˈliɡyre], [zeˈnejze]
Native to Italy, Monaco, France
Region Italy
 • Liguria
 • Southern Piedmont
 • Southern Lombardy
 • Western Emilia-Romagna
 • Southern Sardinia
 • Eastern Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
 • Corsica
Native speakers
500,000 (2002)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lij
Glottolog ligu1248[2]
Linguasphere 51-AAA-oh & 51-AAA-og

There is a long literary tradition of Ligurian poets and writers that goes from the 13th century to the present, such as Luchetto (the Genoese Anonym), Martin Piaggio and Gian Giacomo Cavalli.


Geographic extent and statusEdit

Ligurian (Romance language).

Ligurian has almost 500,000 native speakers, and is still widely spoken throughout Liguria, especially in the rural regions and smaller towns. Unlike other regional languages spoken throughout Italy, Ligurian is not experiencing a decline in a number of native speakers due to the influence of Standard Italian, nor is it perceived as a regional patois spoken by the less-educated by its speakers. As such, the language itself is actively preserved by various groups, most notable of which is the Associazione Culturale O Castello in Chiavari, which offers free Ligurian (Genovese dialect) language courses. Notable native speakers of Ligurian include Niccolò Paganini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Christopher Columbus, Eugenio Montale, Giulio Natta, Italo Calvino, and Fabrizio De André. There is also a popular musical group, Buio Pesto, who compose songs entirely in the language.

Besides Liguria (Ligurian Liguria), the language is traditionally spoken in coastal, northern Tuscany, southern Piedmont (part of the province of Alessandria), western extremes of Emilia-Romagna (some areas in the province of Piacenza), in a small area of southern Sardinia (Italy), the Alpes-Maritimes of France (mostly the Côte d'Azur from the Italian border to and including Monaco), and in a township at the south of Corsica (France). It has been adopted formally in Monaco as the Monégasque dialect; or locally, Munegascu.

The Mentonasc dialect, spoken in the East of the County of Nice, is considered to be a transitional Occitan dialect to Ligurian; conversely, the Roiasc and Pignasc spoken further North in the Eastern margin of the County are Ligurian dialects with Occitan influences.

Ligurian was also once spoken outside the borders of the modern province, but has since given way to Standard Italian in Northwestern Italy and to French in Southern France.


As a Gallo-Italic language, Ligurian is most closely related to Lombard, Piedmontese and Emilian-Romagnol language, all of which are spoken in neighboring provinces. Unlike the aforementioned languages, however, it exhibits distinct Italian features. No link between Romance Ligurian and the Ligurian language of the ancient Ligurian populations, in the form of a substrate or otherwise, can be demonstrated by linguistic evidence. Only the toponyms are known to have survived from ancient Ligurian, the name Liguria being the most obvious example.


Variants of the Ligurian language are:


The Ligurian alphabet has:

  • 7 vowels: a, e, i, ò (IPA: [ɔ]), o [u], u [y], æ [ɛ], plus the group eu [ø].
  • 19 consonants: b, c, ç, d, f, g, h, l, m, n, ñ (or nn- like in singing), p, q, r, s, t, v, x, z.
  • It uses the umlaut (¨), circumflex (ˆ), acute (´), and grave (`) accents on most vowels when the full pronunciation key is given in the official spelling. It also uses the c-cedilla (ç).


According to the spelling of the Genoese Académia Ligùstica do Brénno

  • o péi (or: a péia): pear (It. and Sp. pera, Pt. pêra, Ro. pară ), plural e péie (f.)
  • o mei (or: a méia): apple (It. mela , Ro. măr), its plural is feminine: e méie
  • o çetrón: orange (cf. Fr. citron 'lemon'; replacing Gen. limon—cf. It. limone)
  • o fîgo: fig (It. fico, Fr. figue, Gl. and Pt. figo), plural e fîghe (f.)
  • o pèrsego: peach (It. pesca, Ro. piersică, Fr. pêche, Cat. préssec, Gl. pexego, Pt. pêssego), plural e pèrseghe (f.)
  • a frambôasa: raspberry (Fr. framboise, Pt. framboesa)
  • a çêxa: cherry (It. ciliegia Ro. cireaşă, Fr. cerise, Pt. cereja)
  • o meréllo: strawberry
  • a nôxe: walnut (It. noce, Pt noz, Ro nucă )
  • a nissêua: hazelnut (It. nocciola, Fr. noisette, Pt. avelã)
  • o bricòccalo: apricot (It. albicocca, Cat. albercoc, Pt. abricó)
  • l'ûga: grape (It., Sp. and Pt. uva , Ro. strugure")
  • o pigneu: pine nut (It. pinolo,Pt. pinhão)
  • arvî: to open (It. aprire, Fr. ouvrir, Sp. and Pt. abrir)
  • serrâ: to close (It. chiudere, Ro. închidere, Sp. cerrar)
  • ciæo: light (cf. It. chiaro , Ro. clar)
  • a cà or casa: home, house (It., Sp. and Pt. casa; Ro. casă, Cat. and Ven: 'Ca(sa))
  • l'êuvo: egg (It. uovo, Fr. l'œuf, Ro. ou, Gl. and Pt. ovo)
  • l'éuggio: eye (It. occhio, Ro. ochi, Fr. l'œil, Cat. ull, Gl. ollo, Pt. olho)
  • a bócca: mouth (It. bocca, Sp. and Pt. boca, Fr. "bouche")
  • a tésta: head (It. testa , Ro. ţeastă, in Pt. testa is forehead)
  • a schénn-a: back (It. schiena, Ro. spinare, Cat. esquena)
  • o bràsso: arm (It. braccio, Ro. braţ, Fr. bras, Pt. braço)
  • a gànba: leg (It. gamba, Ro. gambă, Fr. jambe, Cat. cama)
  • o cheu: heart (It. cuore, Ro. cord (in Ro. more commonly "Heart" translates as "inimă"), Fr. cœur, pt. coração)
  • l'articiòcca: artichoke (It. carciofo, De. Artischocke, Fr. artichaut)
  • a tomâta: tomato (It. pomodoro, De. Tomate, Fr. and Pt. tomate)


  1. ^ Ligurian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ligurian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  • Jean-Philippe Dalbera, Les parlers des Alpes Maritimes : étude comparative, essai de reconstruction [thèse], Toulouse: Université de Toulouse 2, 1984 [éd. 1994, Londres: Association Internationale d’Études Occitanes]
  • Werner Forner, “Le mentonnais entre toutes les chaises ? Regards comparatifs sur quelques mécanismes morphologiques” [Caserio & al. 2001: 11–23]
  • Intemelion (revue), n° 1, Sanremo, 1995.

External linksEdit