|This article does not cite any references or sources. (October 2007)|
|Region||Salento (Southern Apulia)|
|Native speakers||1.5 million (date missing)|
The Salentino dialect is the traditional vernacular of the southern Italian provinces of Lecce, Brindisi and part of that of Taranto, known more commonly as the Salento, the extreme southern part of the region of Puglia or the southern "heel" of the Italian peninsula.
Salentino is a dialect of the Sicilian language. Salentino hence is more similar to the Calabrian dialect than the nearer dialects of central and northern Puglia and Basilicata, which are varieties of Neapolitan or 'Inner Southern Italian'.
The Salentino dialect is a product of the different foreign powers and populations that have washed over the peninsula over the centuries; Byzantine, Lombard, French, and Spanish influences are all, to differing levels, present in the modern dialect.
During the Middle Ages, the area was home to both Romance-based dialects - the precursors to the modern Salentino. Salentino vocabulary is a strong derivative of traditional latin, with some reported French or Spanish influences.
The term "Salentino" should be considered a general word to describe the various Romance vernaculars of the Salento peninsula rather than a term to describe a unified standard language spoken throughout the area. Indeed, in common with most other Italian languages there is no agreed standard on spelling, grammar or pronunciation, with each locality and even generation having its own peculiarities. What unites the various local dialects of the Salento are their shared differences from the dialects further north in Puglia, such as the Barese dialect, and their similarities with other varieties, particularly those found in Calabria.