The Parmigiano dialect, sometimes the Parmesan dialect, (or al djalètt pramzàn) is a dialect of the Emilian language spoken almost exclusively in the Province of Parma, the western-central portion of the Emilia-Romagna administrative region. UNESCO, publisher of the Red Book of Endangered Languages, estimates that the languages of Emilia-Romagna (Emiliano-Romagnolo) have around 2 million speakers and consider that they are "definitely endangered". It is largely used exclusively orally.
Although commonly referred to as an Italian dialect (even by its speakers), it does not descend from the Italian language. It is part of the Gallo-Italic group of languages, which are Western New Latin, conserving innovative phonetic and syntactic features as in French, Occitan and Catalan, while Italian is part of Eastern New Latin. There is no standardised version of Parmigiano.
The standard word order is subject–verb–object. There are two genders, two grammatical cases, and a distinction between plural and singular. Parmigiano has a strong T–V distinction to distinguish varying levels of politeness, social distance, courtesy, familiarity, or insult. It employs a considerable number of diacritics.
Although the term dialetto is commonly used in reference to all minority languages native to modern-day Italy, the majority of these languages are not mutually intelligible with Standard Italian and have developed independently from Vulgar Latin. Parmigiano is no exception and is therefore a dialect of the Emiliano-Romagnolo language, not the Italian language.
Parmigiano is a member of the Emilian group of languages, a subgroup of the Emiliano-Romagnolo languages that is defined as "definitely endangered", while SIL International estimates it has 3 million speakers. Emilian is sometimes sub-divided into Western Emilian, Central Emilian, Eastern Emilian, Meridional Emilian and Valley Emilian; Parma normally falls into Western Emilian, but has been classified as Central-Western Emilian. There is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between the various Emilian dialects, as well as the other Emiliano-Romagnolo language: Romagnolo, but each has distinguishing features. Emiliano-Romagnolo is part of the Gallo-Italic family, which also includes Piedmontese, Ligurian and Lombard language. Ligurian in particular has influenced Parmigiano.
Parmigiano follows much of the history that Emilian does, but at some point diverged from other versions of that linguistic group. It now lies somewhere between Western Emilian (which includes Piancentino) and Central Emilian (which includes Reggiano and Modenese). Like the other Emilian dialects, it has fewer speakers than ever because of political, social and economic factors, but it has been suggested by La Repubblica that this is changing. Although its use is declining, it is doing so at a slow rate as parents are keen to preserve their ancestral roots.
Its origins are with the population of Gauls who occupied the Parma area in around 400 CE, a people that had stayed there after the invasion of the Romans. The lexicon was therefore a type of Latin influenced by Gaulish. The Gauls, or Celts, left their mark on modern Parmigiano in some words today, such as gozèn "pig", scrana "chair" and sôga "rope". As a result of Spanish and especially French invasions, Parmigiani began to use words which came from a French language that had Latin roots. This is seen in tirabusòn "corkscrew" (similar to Modern French's tire-bouchon) vert "open" (French: ouvert), pòmmm da téra "potato" (French: pomme de terre) and many other words.
Geographic distribution 
The Parmigiano dialect is mainly spoken in the province of Parma. The vocabulary and vowel sounds vary across the region, particularly between the urban and rural dialects, as there was once little mobility from within to outside the city walls. The dialect spoken outside Parma is often called Arioso or Parmense within the city itself, but variation is less pronounced than it once was. The dialect spoken in Casalmaggiore in the Province of Cremona to the north of Parma is closely related to Parmigiano. Of the Parmigiano sub-dialects, it is possible to distinguish three forms:
- Low Parmigiano, which is native to a northern part of the province that lies between the Po and the Via Aemilia and whose largest town is Colorno.
- Western Parmigiano, which is heard around Fidenza and Salsomaggiore Terme and has been strongly influenced by Piacentino, another Emilian language).
- High Parmigiano, which has been affected by Ligurian, is spoken in the Apennine region to the south.
An example of the dialect's variation is the word bombèn "very well". In 1861, the popular forms were that, moltbein and monbén, but has also taken these forms: montben, mondbén, moltbén, moltbein, monbén, and mombén.
Official status 
Parmigiano is not recognised as a minority dialect in the European Union or in Italy; nor is Emilian or Emilian-Romagnol. Since 27 June 2000, Italy has been a signatory of the Council of Europe's European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which aims to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe, but it has not ratified it.
Writing system 
Parmigiano is written using the Latin alphabet, but spelling can vary within the dialect and has never been standardised because it is by and large only a spoken language. Despite this, a number of Parmigani-Italian dictionaries have been published. Angelo Mazza and translator Clemente Bondi were prolific writers of poetry in the Parmigiano dialect. Most of these works were first published in the late 1700s or the early to mid-1800s.
- the loss of Latin's declensions
- only two grammatical genders
- the development of grammatical articles from Latin demonstratives
- new tenses formed from auxiliaries
Nouns and most pronouns are inflected for number (singular or plural); adjectives, for the number and gender (masculine or feminine) of their nouns; personal pronouns, for person, number, gender, and case; and verbs, for mood, tense, and the person and number of their subjects. Case is primarily marked using word order and prepositions, and certain verb features are marked using auxiliary verbs.
Parmigiano expresses negation in two parts, with the particle n attached to the verb, and one or more negative words (connegatives) that modify the verb or one of its arguments. Negation encircles a conjugated verb with n after the subject and the negative adverb after the conjugated verb, For example, simple verbal negation is expressed by n before the finite verb (and any object pronouns) and the adverb brisa ['briza] after the finite verb. This is a feature it has in common with French, which uses ne and pas. Pas derives from the Latin passus "step"; brisa "crumb" also derives from a small quantity.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Parmesan proverbs|
Below is a sample of Parmigiano and a comparison with Italian and English; however, it should be noted that even within the dialect, there is variation to the example given.
|English||The crow stole from the window a piece of cheese; perched on a treetop, he was ready to eat it when a fox saw him; he was absolutely starving.|
|Italian||Il corvo aveva rubato da una finestra un pezzo di formaggio; appollaiato sulla cima di un albero, era pronto a mangiarselo, quando la volpe lo vide; era davvero affamata.|
|Parmigiano||Al corv l'äva robè da 'na fnéstra 'n tòch äd formàj; pozè insimma a 'na pianta, l'éra lì lì par magnärsol/magnärsel, quand la volpa l'al vèdda; la gh'äva fama dabón.|
- "The Emilian Language". multitree.org.
- "Languages Atlas". UNESCO.
- "Request for New Language Code Element in ISO 639-3". SIL International.
- "Il dialetto parmigiano: piccola lingua di una piccola patria" [The Parmigiano dialect: small language from a small fatherland] (in 9 December 2008).
- "VOCABOLARIO PARMIGIANO-ITALIANO" [Parmigiano-Italian Vocabulary] (in Italian).
- Maiden & Parry, p. 104
- Gilmour, David (2011). The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, Its Regions and Their Peoples. Allen Lane. ISBN 978-1-84614-251-2.
- Maiden, Martin; Parry, M. Mair (1997). The dialects of Italy. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-11104-1.
- Parker, Philip M. (2008). Webster's Parmigiano - English Thesaurus Dictionary. ICON Group International. ISBN 978-0-497-83663-4.