Piedmontese language


Piedmontese (English: /ˌpdmɒnˈtz/; autonym: piemontèis [pi̯emʊŋˈtɛjz] or lenga piemontèisa, in Italian: piemontese) is a language spoken by some 2,000,000 people mostly in Piedmont, northwestern region of Italy. Although considered by many linguists a separate language, in Italy it is often mistakenly regarded as an Italian dialect.[2] It is linguistically included in the Gallo-Italic languages group of Northern Italy (with Lombard, Emilian, Ligurian and Romagnolo), which would make it part of the wider western group of Romance languages, which also includes French, Occitan, and Catalan. It is spoken in the core of Piedmont, in northwestern Liguria, near Savona and in Lombardy (some municipalities in the westernmost part of Lomellina near Pavia).

Native toItaly
RegionNorthwest Italy:
Aosta Valley
Native speakers
2,000,000 (2012)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3pms
Piedmontese language map.png
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

It has some support from the Piedmont regional government but is considered a dialect rather than a separate language by the Italian central government.[2]

Due to the Italian diaspora Piedmontese has spread in the Argentinian Pampas, where many immigrants from Piedmont settled. The Piedmontese language is also spoken in some states of Brazil, as well as the Venetian language.


The first documents in the Piedmontese language were written in the 12th century, the sermones subalpini, when it was extremely close to Occitan. Literary Piedmontese developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, but it did not gain literary esteem comparable to that of French or Italian, other languages used in Piedmont. Nevertheless, literature in Piedmontese has never ceased to be produced: it includes poetry, theatre pieces, novels, and scientific work.[3]

Current statusEdit

In 2004, Piedmontese was recognised as Piedmont's regional language by the regional parliament,[4][5][6] although the Italian government has not yet recognised it as such. In theory, it is now supposed to be taught to children in school,[7] but this is happening only to a limited extent.

The last decade has seen the publication of learning materials for schoolchildren, as well as general-public magazines. Courses for people already outside the education system have also been developed. In spite of these advances, the current state of Piedmontese is quite grave, as over the last 150 years the number of people with a written active knowledge of the language has shrunk to about 2% of native speakers, according to a recent survey.[8] On the other hand, the same survey showed Piedmontese is still spoken by over half the population, alongside Italian. Authoritative sources confirm this result, putting the figure between 2 million (Assimil,[9] IRES Piemonte[10] and 3 million speakers (Ethnologue[11]) out of a population of 4.2 million people. Efforts to make it one of the official languages of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics were unsuccessful.

Regional variantsEdit

Piedmontese is divided into three major groups

  • Western which include the dialects of Turin and Cuneo.
  • Eastern which in turn is divided into south-eastern (Astigiano, Roero, Monregalese, High Montferrat, Langarolo, Alessandrino) and north-eastern (Low Montferrat, Biellese, Vercellese, Valsesiano).
  • Canavese, spoken in the Canavese region in north-western Piedmont.

The variants can be detected in the variation of the accent and variation of words. It is sometimes difficult to understand a person that speaks a different Piedmontese from the one you are used to, as the words or accents are not the same.

Eastern and western groupEdit

Eastern Piedmontese is more phonologically evolved than its western counterpart.

The words that in the west end with jt, jd or t in the east end with [dʒ] e/o [tʃ] for example the westerns [lajt], [tyjt], and [vɛj] ( milk, all and old) in the east are [lɑtʃ], [tytʃ] and [vɛdʒ].

Eastern piedmontese has [i] as allophone of [e] at the end of word, both at the end of infinitive time of the verb, like in to read and to be (western [leze], [ese] vs. eastern [lezi], [esi]) and at words feminine plural gender, although this development is so early that it is present in large areas of western Piedmont including Turin for the infinitive time.

A morphological variation that sharply divides east and west is the indicative imperfect conjugation of irregular verbs, in the east is present the suffix ava/iva, while in the west is asìa/isìa.

And different conjugation of the present simple of the irregular verbs: dé, andé, sté (to give, to go, to stay).

english eastern western
to give to go to stay to give to go to stay
I dagh vagh stagh don von ston
you da va sta das vas stas
he/she/it da va sta da va sta
we doma andoma stoma doma andoma stoma
you andè stè deve andeve steve
they dan van stan dan van stan



Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ
voiced d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless f s
voiced v z
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Trill r
Approximant l j w

/v/ is realized as labio-velar [w] in the word-final position as well as between /a/ and /u/.[12][13]


Front Central Back
Close i y u
Mid e ø ə
ɛ ɔ
Open a

Allophones of /a/ are [ɑ, ɒ] in stressed syllables.


Piedmontese is written with a modified Latin alphabet. The letters, along with their IPA equivalent, are shown in the table below.

Letter IPA value Letter IPA value Letter IPA value
A a /a/, [ɑ] H h P p /p/
B b /b/ I i /i/ or (semivocalic) /j/ Q q /k/[i]
C c /k/ or //[ii] J j /j/ R r /r/~/ɹ/
D d /d/ L l /l/ S s /s/, /z/[iii]
E e /e/ or /ɛ/[iv] M m /m/ T t /t/
Ë ë /ə/ N n /n/ or /ŋ/[v] U u /y/, or (semivocalic) /w/, /ʊ̯/
F f /f/ O o /ʊ/, /u/ or (semivocalic), /ʊ̯/ V v /v/, /ʋ/, or /w/[vi]
G g /ɡ/ or //[ii] Ò ò /ɔ/ Z z /z/
  1. ^ Always before u.
  2. ^ a b Before i, e or ë, c and g represent /tʃ/ and /dʒ/, respectively.
  3. ^ s is voiced [z] between vowels, at the end of words, immediately before nasal/voiced consonants.
  4. ^ e is /e/ or /ɛ/ in open syllables and just /e/ in closed.
  5. ^ Before consonants and at the end of words, n represents the velar nasal /ŋ/.
  6. ^ v is generally /v/, /ʋ/ before dental consonants and between vowels, /w/ ([f] by some speakers) at the end of words.

Certain digraphs are used to regularly represent specific sounds as shown below.

Digraph IPA value Digraph IPA value Digraph IPA value
gg // gh /ɡ/ cc //
gli /ʎ/[a] ss /s/ gn /ɲ/
sc /sk/, /stʃ/ sc, scc /stʃ/ eu /ø/
sg, sgg /zdʒ/
  1. ^ Represents /ʎ/ in some Italian loanwords.

All other combinations of letters are pronounced as written. Grave accent marks stress (except for o which is marked by an acute to distinguish it from ò) and breaks diphthongs, so ua and are /wa/, but ùa is pronounced separately, /ˈya/.


number piedmontese number piedmontese number piedmontese number piedmontese
1 un 11 ondes 30 tranta 200 dosent
2 doi (m), doe (f) 12 dodes 40 quaranta 300 tersent
3 trei 13 terdes 50 sinquanta 400 quatsent
4 quatr 14 quatordes 60 sessanta 500 sinchsent
5 sinch 15 quindes 70 stanta 600 sessent
6 ses 16 sedes 80 otanta 700 setsent
7 set 17 disset 90 novanta 800 eutsent
8 eut 18 diseut 100 sent 900 neuvsent
9 neuv 19 disneuv 101 sent e un 1000 mila
10 des 20 vint 110 sentdes


Some of the characteristics of the Piedmontese language are:

  1. The presence of clitic so-called verbal pronouns for subjects, which give a Piedmontese verbal complex the following form: (subject) + verbal pronoun + verb, as in (mi) i von 'I go'. Verbal pronouns are absent only in the imperative form.
  2. The bound form of verbal pronouns, which can be connected to dative and locative particles (a-i é 'there is', i-j diso 'I say to him').
  3. The interrogative form, which adds an enclitic interrogative particle at the end of the verbal form (Veus-to…? 'Do you want to...?'])
  4. The absence of ordinal numerals higher than 'sixth', so that 'seventh' is col che a fà set 'the one which makes seven'.
  5. The existence of three affirmative interjections (that is, three ways to say yes): si, sè (from Latin sic est, as in Italian); é (from Latin est, as in Portuguese); òj (from Latin hoc est, as in Occitan, or maybe hoc illud, as in Franco-Provençal, French and Old Catalan and Occitan).
  6. The absence of the voiceless postalveolar fricative /ʃ/ (like the sh in English sheep), for which an alveolar S sound (as in English sun) is usually substituted.
  7. The existence of an S-C combination pronounced [stʃ].
  8. The existence of a velar nasal [ŋ] (like the ng in English going), which usually precedes a vowel, as in lun-a 'moon'.
  9. The existence of the third Piedmontese vowel Ë, which is very short (close to the vowel in English sir).
  10. The absence of the phonological contrast that exists in Italian between short (single) and long (double) consonants, for example, Italian fata 'fairy' and fatta 'done (F)'.
  11. The existence of a prosthetic Ë sound when consonantal clusters arise that are not permitted by the phonological system. So 'seven stars' is pronounced set ëstèile (cf. stèile 'stars').

Piedmontese has a number of varieties that may vary from its basic koiné to quite a large extent. Variation includes not only departures from the literary grammar, but also a wide variety in dictionary entries, as different regions maintain words of Frankish or Lombard origin, as well as differences in native Romance terminology. Words imported from various languages are also present, while more recent imports tend to come from France and from Italian.

A variety of Piedmontese was Judeo-Piedmontese, a dialect spoken by the Piedmontese Jews until the Second World War.

Lexical comparisonEdit

Lexical comparison with other Romance languages and English:

Gallo-italic and Venetian Occitano-romance Occitano and Ibero-romance Gallo-romance Italo-dalmatian Ibero-romance Balkan-romance
English Piedmontese Ligurian Emilian Venetian Occitan Catalan Aragonese Arpitan French Sicilian Italian Spanish Portuguese Romanian
chair cadrega carêga scrâna carega cadièra cadira silla cheyére chaise sìeggia sedia silla cadeira scaun, catedră
to take pijé/ciapé pigiâ/ciapà ciapèr ciapàr prene, agafar agafar, agarrar, replegar agafar, replegar prendre/acrapar prendre pigghiàri prendere, pigliare coger, tomar, pillar pegar, tomar a lua
to go/come out surtì/seurte sciortì sortìr isìr/sortir sortir, sal(h)ir, eissir sortir/eixir salir, sallir, ixir, salldre sortir/salyir sortir nèsciri uscire salir sair a ieși
to fall droché/tombé càzze crodèr cajàr caire/tombar caure cayer, caire chèdre tomber càriri cadere, cascare caer, tumbar cair, tombar cădere
home ca/meison ca ca ca casa/meison ca/casa casa mêson/cà maison casa casa casa casa casă
arm brass brasso brâs braç braç braç braço brès bras vrazzu braccio brazo braço braț
number nùmer nùmero nómmer nùmaro nòmbre nombre número nombro nombre/numéro nùmmuru numero número número număr
name nòm nòme nòm nòme nom nom nombre, nom nom nom nomu nome nombre nome nume
apple pom méia/póma pàm pómo poma poma, maçana maçana, poma poma pomme muma/mela mela manzana maçã măr
to work travajér travagiâ lavorè travajàr trabalhar treballar treballar travalyér travailler travagghiari lavorare trabajar trabalhar a lucra
bat (animal) ratavolòira ràttopenûgo papastrèl signàpola ratapenada ratpenat, moricec moriziego, moricec rata volage chauve-souris taddarita pipistrello murciélago morcego liliac
school scòla schêua scòla scòla escòla escola escuela, escola ècuola école scola scuola escuela escola școală
wood (land) bòsch bòsco bòsch bósco bosc bosc bosque bouesc bois voscu bosco bosque bosque pădure
Mr monsù sciô sior siór sénher senyor sinyor monsior monsieur gnuri signore señor senhor, seu domn
Mrs madama sciâ siora sióra sénhera senyora sinyora madama madame gnura signora señora senhora, dona doamnă
summer istà istà istê istà estiu estiu verano étif été astati estate verano, estío verão, estio vară
today ancheuj ancheu incō incò uèi/ancuei avui/hui hue enqu'houè aujourd'hui ùoggi oggi hoy hoje azi
tomorrow dman domân dmân domàn deman demà manyana, deman, maitín deman demain rumani domani mañana amanhã mâine
yesterday jer vêi iêr gèri gèr/ier ahir ahiere hièr hier aìeri ieri ayer ontem ieri
Monday lùnes lunesdì munedé luni diluns dilluns luns delon lundi lunidìa lunedì lunes segunda-feira luni
Tuesday màrtes mâtesdì martedé marti dimars dimarts març demârs mardi màrtiri martedì martes terça-feira marți
Wednesday mèrcol mâcordì mercordé mercòre dimecrès dimecres miercres demécro mercredi mèrcuri mercoledì miércoles quarta-feira miercuri
Thursday giòbia zéuggia giovedé zioba dijòus dijous jueus dejo jeudi iòviri giovedì jueves quinta-feira joi
Friday vënner venardì venerdé vénere divendres divendres viernes devendro vendredi viènniri venerdì viernes sexta-feira vineri
Saturday saba sabbò sâbet sabo dissabte dissabte sabado dessandro samedi sabbatu sabato sábado sábado sâmbătă
Sunday dumìnica dumenega dumenica doménega dimenge diumenge dominge demenge dimanche rumìnica domenica domingo domingo duminică


  1. ^ Piedmontese on Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ a b La Stampa. "Per la Consulta il piemontese non è una lingua". Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2010.
  3. ^ "Tàula ëd Matemàtica e Fìsica" [University-level course material - physics and calculus]. digilander.libero.it.
  4. ^ "Atti del Consiglio - Mozioni e Ordini del Giorno". Consiglio regionale del Piemonte. 30 November 1999.
  5. ^ "Approvazione da parte del Senato del Disegno di Legge che tutela le minoranze linguistiche sul territorio nazionale - Approfondimenti" [Text of motion 1118 in the Piedmontese Regional Parliament] (PDF). Consiglio Regionale del Piemonte. 15 December 1999.
  6. ^ Piemontèis d'amblé - Avviamento Modulare alla conoscenza della Lingua piemontese; R. Capello, C. Comòli, M.M. Sánchez Martínez, R.J.M. Nové; Regione Piemonte/Gioventura Piemontèisa; Turin, 2001
  7. ^ "Arbut - Ël piemontèis a scòla" [Piedmontese courses at School]. www.gioventurapiemonteisa.net.
  8. ^ Knowledge and Usage of the Piedmontese Language in Turin and its Province Archived 2006-02-07 at the Wayback Machine, carried out by Euromarket, a Turin-based market research company on behalf of the Riformisti per l'Ulivo party in the Piedmontese Regional Parliament in 2003 (in Italian).
  9. ^ F. Rubat Borel, M. Tosco, V. Bertolino. Il Piemontese in Tasca, a Piedmontese basic language course and conversation guide, published by Assimil Italia (the Italian branch of Assimil, the leading French producer of language courses) in 2006. ISBN 88-86968-54-X. assimil.it
  10. ^ E. Allasino, C. Ferrer, E. Scamuzzi, T. Telmon (October 2007). "Le Lingue del Piemonte". www.ires.piemonte.it. Istituto di Ricerche Economiche e Sociali Piemonte.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International ISO 639-3, pms (Piemontese) Retrieved 13 June 2012
  12. ^ Brero, Camillo; Bertodatti, Remo (2000). Grammatica della lingua piemontese. Torino: Ed.
  13. ^ Parry, Mair (1997). Piedmont. The dialects of Italy: London: Routledge. pp. 237–244.

Further readingEdit

  • Zallio, A. G. (1927). "The Piedmontese Dialects in the United States". American Speech. 2 (12): 501–4. doi:10.2307/452803. JSTOR 452803.

External linksEdit

  • Piedmontese language at Curlie
  • Cultural Association "Nòste Rèis": features online Piedmontese courses for Italian, French, English, and Spanish speakers with drills and tests
  • Piemunteis.it - Online resources about piedmontese language: poems, studies, audio, free books
  • Piemontese basic lexicon (several dialects) at the Global Lexicostatistical Database
  • Omniglot's entry on Piedmontese