Algherese dialect

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Algherese (Standard Catalan: Alguerès, IPA: [əɫɣəˈɾɛs]; Algherese: Alguerés, IPA: [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.[1]

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 1960s. Today it has semi-official status alongside Italian.[2]

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.[3]

Differences from Standard Catalan[edit]

A satellite photo of Sardinia with the location of the Algherese-speaking area in yellow

The Algherese variant is classified in the Eastern Catalan block, but it has many differences from Central Catalan. Some of the most obvious:

  • Like in other languages of Sardinia /ɛ/ and /e/, and /ɔ/ and /o/ may merge into mid vowels [] and [], respectively.
  • Coalescing of unstressed vowels /a/, /ɛ/ and /e/ to [a] (unlike the rest of Eastern Catalan that 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]; e.g. '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]; e.g. 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  • Simple past has been replaced by present perfect (present of haver "to have" + past participle), possibly due to Italian influence.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 has 1st -ava, 2nd -ia, 3rd -ia) (a feature shared with Ribagorçan Catalan).
  • Large-scale lexical borrowing and calques from Sardinian, Spanish, and Italian.


Poster for the Premi Rafael Sari 2008

The Premi Rafael Sari—organised by the Obra Cultural de l'Alguer [4]—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[5] is awarded for new songs written in the language. Notable singer-songwriters include Pino Piras and Franca Masu.

In 2015 he published the Algherese translation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince by Carla Valentino.[6]


External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Monument to the unitat de la llengua in Alghero