Piedmontese

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  1. It is a Western Romance tongue spoken in Piedmont. In the north-western valleys of Canavèis and in Susa Valley (Province of Turin) Franco-provençal is spoken (the same language which is spoken in Aosta Valley and in Savoy). In Chison Valley and in the Valleys of the Province of Cuneo, Piedmontese is often understood, but getting closer to French border, toponyms, surnames of people and spoken language are Occitan. [If you are getting bored, skip to point 4]. South-west of the town of Alessandria, the local language becomes quite different from the standard Piedmontese, due to the Ligurian, Lombard and Emilian influences. So the town of Novi Ligure and its surroundings are considered part of Ligurian linguistic area, whilst Tortona is considered part of the Lombard area. The so-called Lomellina, a land which is part of Lombardy, is considered by Lombards an area influenced by Piedmontese, even if it clearly remains a Lombard-speaking area, because of ancient political and administrative reasons. The language in the provinces of Novara and Verbania is considered very close to Lombard by Piedmontese people, but not everybody is sure that they are part of Lombard language, particularly because someone from this area considers himself to be piedmontese, since their province has constantly been part of Piedmont in the last centuries; then there is the Ossolan language, spoken in the extreme north, which is impossible to be included in Piemontese, and is part of Western Lombard Language.
  2. It evolved from Latin, surrounded by Occitans, Franco-provençals and Lombards. It mantained some words of the pre-Roman Celtic tribes and has been influenced by German presences.
  3. Piedmontese sometimes is similar to English, because what you say isn’t always what you write. In English the same letters can be read in different ways, like in b’’’oo’’’k and d’’’oo’’’r and the same word can be pronounced in slightly different ways according to the origin of the speaker, like in American and British English. In Piedmontese most of words are written in Turinese, which has always been the richest source of written documents in Piedmontese, and people who are from other provinces use to say just the way they know, but use to write in standard ortography.
  4. Piedmontese ortography has became across the years very accurate, and it is possible to correct even the smallest mistakes. It is called ‘’’Grafìa dij Brandé’’, it was born in 1783 when Royal Doctor Morissi Pipin published the first Piedmontese Grammar for the Princess Marie Clotilde of France who wanted to learn Piedmontese to speak it at court. In 1930s this writing system was restored and refined, and in the XX century most of the piedmontese editions adopted it. This is actually a lucky chance for this language, since many northern italian minority languages still lack a unified writing and lead on some different traditions and experimentations.
  5. Piedmontese is a quite omogeneous linguistic area, with no changes in grammar structure and just some plurality of pronounciations, forms and formules.
  6. Stats in 2005 said that piedmontese was spoken by two million people and was understood by around 1.3 million, who are decreasing due to the pervasiveness of Italian. Since 2005 the numbers continued to reduce, so that statistics is no longer valid. Many people were elder and mostly illiterate as of piedmontese. Good-level literacy is extimated at about 2000 people. The aim of this modest work is also to help people who already heard the language and would like to learn how to write and read it.
  7. Is isn’t an Italian nor a French dialect. It is a language, as recognized by UNESCO. Anyway we don’t need to repeat it again: who considers it a caricaturist and shoddy speech won’t change his mind, even if he could because there is plenty of sources.
  8. There is a consistent literature in Piedmontese which deals with many genres using many literary forms.
  9. It reached its peak in the XVIII century, when it was an official language and the court language of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
  10. It hasn’t to be used only in certain circles. It is a real language. It can be used nonchalantly to talk about vineyard as well as about international politics.
  11. Obviously Piedmontese never entered university, but it developed a flush technical vocabulary, for instance mechanical vocabulary, because it was used in work places till the 1980s, even if in the great factories it was prohibited in order to permit the integration of the manpower from outside Piedmont together with the local workers.
  12. To learn Piedmontese nowadays can be remarkable because it is rapidly dying out and you may be the last who know it.
  13. While learning it, you may notice that it is very different from Italian and it has a lot of links with many European languages.
  14. Its grammar is not too difficult: it has eleven irregular verbs, most of substantives don’t have a plural form and has only 6 indicative verbal tenses. The conjunctive is something less important, anyaway it will be reported.
  15. Lastly, it may be interesting to see how many links there are among Piedmontese and other languages, such as French, Italian, English and Hispanic languages. You may notice that those people who improved their Piedmontese, then were much more able to practice new languages. Anyhow, it is useless. It is not true that without knowing piedmontese language you won’t obtain what you aspire. There is plenty of people who was unaware of his mother tongue, but he did great things in his lifetime. Piedmontese is just a style, it is a way to do things, it a feel, a ‘’’deuit’’’, fine and lusty, direct and hearty. That is probably why a speech in Piedmontese should match with some silence. If you wish, it will be a feature that you will have and that will make you different from others.

Other projects and sources of Wikimedia Foundation:

  • Piedmontese-Piedmontese Dictionary: [1]
  • Italian-Piedmontese Dictionary: [2]

Pronounciation of words and sentences in Piedmontese:

[3]