|5,100 in Monaco (1998)|
Forming a part of the Western Romance dialect continuum, Monégasque shares many features with the variety of Ligurian spoken in Genoa, but differs from its neighboring dialects Intemelio and Mentonasc. It has been partially influenced by Niçard Occitan. Contemporary Niçard Occitan is also traditionally spoken in some parts of Monaco, besides Monégasque.
Monegasque, along with all Ligurian languages, is derived directly from the northern Italian languages of the Middle Ages, and has some influence in vocabulary, grammar and syntax from French and related Gallo-Romance languages.
It is spoken in addition to French by the Monégasques. Because the Monégasques are only a minority in Monaco, Monégasque was threatened with extinction in the 1970s.
However, the language is now being taught in schools, and its continuance is regarded as secured. In the old part of Monaco, the street signs are marked with Monégasque in addition to French.
Relation to Italian
Standard Italian, which is related to Monégasque, is also a major language in Monaco. Italian nationals make up some 20% of Monaco's 35,000 permanent residents. Italian was the official language of Monaco when it was a Protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia, from 1814 to 1861, leaving a legacy in some Monégasque words. Indeed, for a long time after the Renaissance, Monaco was the most westerly part on the Mediterranean coast of the Republic of Genoa.
During the fascist occupation in 1942–43, the Principality of Monaco was incorporated into Italy and Monégasque was again considered an Italian dialect. After World War II there were nearly 10,000 Italians in Monte Carlo, and some of them (descendants of the Nizzardo Italians—followers of Giuseppe Garibaldi—who were forced to move from Nice to the Kingdom of Italy after 1861) even spoke Monégasque fluently.
- the ü is pronounced as in German, or as the French u.
- the œ is pronounced as the French é, and not like the French œu as in bœuf, which is how œ is pronounced in Ligurian, which also uses the character ö to represent this sound.
- the ç is pronounced as in the French ç [s]: tradiçiùn comes from the Latin traditionem, and not from the Italian tradizione.
Below is an excerpt from the Monégasque national anthem, written by Louis Notari. In addition, there exists an older French version of the anthem whose lyrics bear different meaning. The choice between the two forms is generally subject to occasion and circumstance.
Despoei tugiù sciü d'u nostru paise
Se ride au ventu, u meme pavayùn
Despoei tugiù a curù russa e giancaGrandi e i piciui, l'an sempre respetà
E stà l'emblema, d'a nostra libertà
Tüta de graçiaAMEN. (Che sice cusci.)
u Signù è cun tü
si benedëta tra tüt'ë done
e Gesü u to Fiyu è benejiu.
Santa Maria, maire de Diu,
prega per nùi, pecatùi
aùra e à l'ura d'a nostra morte
- Beyond Boundaries: Language and Identity in Contemporary Europe, Chapter Seven
- History of Monaco
- Pater Noster in Monégasque