Algherese (Standard Catalan: Alguerès, pronounced: [əlɣəˈɾɛs]; Algherese: Alguerés [alɣaˈɾes]) is the variant of the Catalan language spoken in the city of Alghero (L'Alguer in Catalan), in the northwest of Sardinia, Italy. Catalan-speaking colonists repopulated the town and expelled the native population in 1372, after several revolts.
Catalan was replaced as the official language by Spanish, then by Italian in the mid 18th century, but its use remained widespread until at least the 1970s. Today it has semi-official status alongside Italian.
According to recent linguistic research, 22.4% of the population in Alghero speak Algherese natively and above 90% have some knowledge of this Catalan dialect.
Based on additional linguistic studies, there are approximately 20,000 to 30,000 native speakers of language worldwide. In communities where Algherese is spoken, Italian and Logudorese Sardinian are often used as well.
Algherese is a regional dialect spoken by anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 individuals, most of which reside in the town of Alghero, located in the northwest of Sardinia. The language, though secular, is initially derived from, and thus considered a variant of, the Catalan language. The origins of the language can be traced back to 1372, when Catalan invaders repopulated the city of Alghero after exiling the indigenous populations in Sardinia. The language has roots in several Romance languages, including Eastern Romance, Italo-Western Romance, and Italo Western.
In the northwest region of Sardinia, it is estimated that Italian is the first language of close to 60% of individuals, while Algherese is approximately 22%. For this reason, the use of the dialect in schools and media, to name a few, is sparse. Prior to 1997, teaching of the dialect in school was rare, as it was often seen as secondary to Catalan. However, in an attempt to reverse this trend, the Regional Council of Sardinia has officially recognized "Algherese Catalan" as a separate language in order to promote its use and circulation. As of a 2008 study, Algherese is only used in by approximately 14% of the population for daily interactions. The dialect mostly serves as a local language, often used to supplement Catalan or Sardinian, but only in small circles.
There are currently no known dialects or varieties of this language.
Algherese can be derived from a set of varying, though similar regional dialects. Initially, the Occitano-Romance dialect is divided into three sub-units; they are labeled as Catalan, Gascon, and Occitan. The first two, Catalan and Gascon, represent single spoken languages In regards to the aforementioned, Algherese Catalan is an outlying dialect because it is in an isolated group. In a sense, Algherese is a sub-division of its own within the previous sub-division.
The following table represents a study conducted in the town of Alghero that show the general use of the Algherese dialect across several media.
Figures were gathered from the EULA in 2004:
|Oral Comprehension||90.1% (Sardinian oral comprehension: 69.7%)|
|Oral Expression||61.3% (Sardinian oral expression: 33.9%)|
|Written Comprehension||46.6% (Sardinian written comprehension: 35.4%)|
|Written Expression||13.6% (Sardinian written expression: 15.4%)|
|First Language||22.4% (59.2% Italian)|
- Like in other languages of Sardinia /ɛ/ and /e/, and /ɔ/, and /o/ may merge into mid vowels [e̞] and [o̞], respectively.
- Coalescing of unstressed vowels /a/, /ɛ/ and /e/ to [a] (unlike the rest of Eastern Catalan, which uses [ə]).
- Algherese preserves /v/ as a distinct phoneme from /b/, like Balearic and most of Valencian.
- Mutation of intervocalic /d/ or /l/ to [r]: 'Barceloneta' (little Barcelona): Eastern Standard [bərsəɫuˈnɛtə], Algherese [balsaruˈne̞ta]; and vila ('town') and vida ('life') are homophones in Algherese [ˈvira].
- Mutation of syllable final /r/ to lateral [l], and the possible resulting group /r/ + consonant is further simplified to [l]: forn ('furnace, oven'): Standard [ˈfo̞rn], Algherese [ˈfo̞l].
- Depalatalization of syllable final sonorants: lateral /ʎ/ to [l], nasal /ɲ/ to [n]; e.g. any ('year'): Standard [ˈaɲ], Algherese [ˈan].
- Unlike most Catalan dialects, /l/ is never velarized in Algherese; e.g. sol ('sun'): Standard [ˈsɔɫ], Algherese [ˈso̞l].
- Simple past has been replaced by present perfect (present of haver "to have" + past participle), possibly due to Italian influence.
- Imperfect past preserves etymological -v- in all the conjugations: 1st -ava, 2nd -iva, 3rd -iva (unlike modern Eastern and Western Standard Catalan, which use 1st -ava, 2nd -ia, 3rd -ia) (a feature shared with Ribagorçan Catalan).
- Large-scale lexical borrowing and calques from Sardinian, Spanish, and Italian: nearly half of the vocabulary is in fact not Catalan.
Differences from Standard Catalan
The following phrases were gathered from a Catalan translation set, though the common phrasings used in the Algherese Dialect are similar.
|My name is...||Em dic...||Me aquirr...
|Where are you from?||D'on ets?(inf)
D'on és vostè?(frm)
|De ont ses?(inf)
De ont és vostè?(frm)
|Good morning||Bon dia||Bon dia|
In this table, the following shorthand is used: m(masculine), f(feminine), pl(plural), pl/f(plural feminine), inf(informal), frm(formal).
The Premi Rafael Sari, organised by the Obra Cultural de l'Alguer, is a series of prizes awarded in September each year to the best literary works of poetry and prose written in Alguerese Catalan. Notable poets include Rafael Sari, Pasquale Scanu and Maria Chessa Lai. There is also a long tradition of writing and performing songs in Alguerese Catalan and the Premio Pino Piras is awarded for new songs written in the language. Notable singer-songwriters include Pino Piras and Franca Masu.
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