Emilian dialects

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PronunciationIPA: [emiˈʎaːŋ]
Native toItaly
RegionPrimarily Emilia
Ethnicity3.3 million (2008)[1]
Native speakers
Unknown, c. 1.3 million (2006 estimate) (2006)[2]
DialectsBolognese, Ferrarese, Modenese, Reggiano, Parmigiano, Piacentino, Mantovano, Carrarino, Vogherese-Pavese
Language codes
ISO 639-3egl
Linguasphere51-AAA-oka ... -okh
Emiliano-Romagnolo area.jpg
Geographic distribution of Emilian (shown in light pink)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Emilian (Emilian: emigliàn, emiliân; Italian: emiliano) are a group of closely-related dialects of Emilian-Romagnol language that are spoken in the historical region of Emilia, which is now in the northwestern part of Emilia-Romagna, Northern Italy. There is no standardised version of Emilian.

Emilian-Romagnol has a default word order of subject–verb–object and both grammatical gender (masculine and feminine) and grammatical number (singular and plural). In Emilian dialects, there is a strong T–V distinction, which distinguishes varying levels of politeness, social distance, courtesy, familiarity or insult. The alphabet, largely adapted from Standard Italian (Tuscan), uses a considerable number of diacritics.


Emilian is one of the two branches of the Emilian-Romagnol language, one of unstandardized Gallo-Italic languages. The Emilian dialects naturally form a dialect continuum with the bordering Romagnol varieties, while the more distant dialects might be less mutually intelligible. Besides Emilian-Romagnol, the Gallo-Italic family includes Piedmontese, Ligurian and Lombard, all of which maintain a level of mutual intelligibility with Emilian-Romagnol, the latter further influenced by Italian.


There is no widespread standard orthography. The words below are written in a nonspecific Emilian script.

Words in Emilian[3][4]
Emilian IPA English
êit, èlt [ɛ:jt] high
lêregh [ˈlɛ:rɐg] wide
longh, loangh [loŋg] long, tall
tōl, tegh [to:l], [teg] to take
fâṡ, fâż [fa:z] / [fa:ð̠] beech
bdoall [b.dœl] birch
znêr, żnèr [ð̠nɛ:r] January
fervêr [fɐrˈvɛr] February
ed, ad [ɐd] and
dîṡ [di:z] to say, ten (only in Bolognese)
ê, é [e] (he/she) is
aloura [ɐˈlɔu̯rɐ] so, then


Linguasphere Observatory recognises the following dialects:[5]

Other definitions include the following:[citation needed]

  • Massese (mixed with some Tuscan features)
  • Casalasco, spoken in Cremona, Lombardy.



Consonants in the Bolognese dialect
Labial Dental Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless f θ s
voiced v ð z
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Rhotic r
Approximant central j w
lateral l ʎ
  • Affricate sounds [t͡s, d͡z] can also be heard as alternates of fricative sounds /θ, ð/ particularly among southern dialects.
  • In the Piacentino dialect, an /r/ sound can be heard as either an alveolar trill [r], or as a uvular fricative [ʁ] sound.


Front Central Back
Close i y u
Mid e ø ə o
ɛ œ ʌ ɔ
Open æ a
  • Rounded front vowel sounds /y, ø, œ/ and a mid-central vowel sound /ə/ are mainly common in the Piacentino and western dialects.
  • In the Piacentino dialect, five vowel sounds being followed by /n/, are then recognized as nasalized [ĩ ẽ ã õ ũ], unless /n/ occurs between two vowel sounds.
  • Vowel length is also distinguished for the following vowels [iː eː ɛː aː ɔː oː uː].[6][7][8]

Writing system[edit]

Emilian is written using a Latin script that has never been standardised. As a result, spelling varies widely across the dialects. The dialects were largely oral and rarely written until some in the late 20th century; a large amount of written media in Emilian has been made since World War II.


  1. ^ Miani, Ivan (12 April 2008). "Request for New Language Code Element in ISO 639-3, page 1ISO 639-3 Registration Authority Request for New Language Code Element in ISO 639-3" (pdf). iso639-3.sil.org. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  2. ^ Istituto nazionale di statistica (20 April 2007). La lingua italiana, i dialetti e le lingue straniere, Anno 2006 (PDF) (in Italian). Retrieved 17 December 2012 – via portal-lem.com.
  3. ^ Lepri, Luigi; Vitali, Daniele (2007). Dizionario bolognese-italiano, italiano bolognese / Dizionèri bulgnais-itagliàn, itagliàn-bulugnais (in Italian). Bologna: Pendragon. ISBN 88-8342-594-4.
  4. ^ Vocabolario reggiano-italiano (in Italian). Reggio: Torreggiani. 1832 – via Biblioteca Panizzi.
  5. ^ "51-AAA-ok. emiliano + romagnolo". Linguasphere.
  6. ^ Foresti, Fabio (2009). Profilo linguistico dell'Emilia-Romagna (in Italian). Roma: Laterza.
  7. ^ Lepri, Luigi; Vitali, Daniele (2009). Dizionario bolognese-italiano italiano-bolognese / Dizionèri bulgnaiṡ-itagliàn itagliàn-bulgnaiṡ (2nd ed.). Bologna: Pendragon.
  8. ^ Hajek, John (1997). "Emilia-Romagna". In Maiden, Martin; Parry, Mair (eds.). The Dialects of Italy. London: Routledge. p. 275.


  • Luca Rognoni, Il sistema fonologico del dialetto modenese. L'Italia Dialettale 74, pp. 135–148, 2013.
  • Colombini, F. 2007. La negazione nei dialetti emiliani: microvariazione nell’area modenese. University of Padua, MA Thesis.

Further reading[edit]

  • Pietro Mainoldi, Manuale dell'odierno dialetto bolognese, Suoni e segni, Grammatica – Vocabolario, Bologna, Società tipografica Mareggiani 1950 (Rist. anast.: Sala Bolognese, A. Forni 2000)
  • Fabio Foresti, Bibliografia dialettale dell'Emilia-Romagna e della Repubblica di San Marino (BDER), Bologna, IBACN Emilia-Romagna / Compositori 1997
  • E. F. Tuttle, Nasalization in Northern Italy: Syllabic Constraints and Strength Scales as Developmental Parameters, Rivista di Linguistica, III: 23–92 (1991)
  • Luigi Lepri e Daniele Vitali, Dizionario Bolognese-Italiano Italiano-Bolognese, ed. Pendragon 2007

External links[edit]