Mentonasc dialect

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Mentonasc (Mentonasco in Italian, Mentonnais in French), is a Ligurian dialect historically spoken in and around Menton, France. It is classified as Occitan, with some strong features from the neighbouring Intemelian Ligurian dialect spoken from Monaco to San Remo. French scholars are believed to have made this classification for political purpose.[1]


Mentonasc shows some transitional features with the Occitan language (Provençal Niçard dialect) but is traditionally assigned to the Ligurian language.

In the Archivio Glottologico Italiano XII, 1890/92, pp. 97–106 John Bruyn Andrews wrote that the dialect of Menton is in the middle between the Ligurian and Provençal dialects.[2]

Area of use[edit]

When the area of Menton was part of the Republic of Genoa and later of the Kingdom of Sardinia, Mentonasc was used in all of the coastal area between Monaco and Ventimiglia. It was a local version of the historical Intemelio, a Medieval Western Ligurian dialect.

Map of the territory of the "Free cities of Menton & Roquebrune in 1848[3]

In the 19th century Mentonasc was used in the territories of the Free Cities of Menton & Roquebrune, an independent statelet created in connection with the Italian Risorgimento.

When France annexed all the County of Nice in 1860, Mentonasc began its decline, substituted by the French language and the Occitan dialect of French immigrants from Provence. It is still spoken by a minority (approximately 10%) in the city of Menton and in the following municipalities near the border with Italy: Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Castellar, Castillon, Gorbio, Sainte-Agnès, Moulinet and Sospel. Isolated communities of Nizzardo Italians still use Mentonasc.


  1. ^ Jean-Philippe Dalbera, Les parlers des Alpes Maritimes : étude comparative, essai de reconstruction [thèse], Toulouse: Université de Toulouse 2, 1984 [éd. 1994, London: Association Internationale d’Études Occitanes]
  2. ^ James Bruyn Andrews, " Il dialetto di Mentone, in quanto egli tramezzi ideologicamente tra il provenzale e il ligure", Archivio Glottologico Italiano XII:97–106, 1890/92. Despite the Italian title, the article is written in English.
  3. ^ Ermanno Amicucci. Nizza e l'Italia. Mondadori editore. Milan, 1939.


  • Dalbera, Jean-Philippe. "Les Ilots Liguriens de France", in Les Langues de France, s. d. B. Cerquiglini (Délégation générale à la langue Française et aux langues de France). Presses Universitaires de France. Paris, 2003. pp. 125–136
  • Toso, Fiorenzo. Liguria linguistica. Dialettologia, storia della lingua e letteratura nel Ponente. Philobiblon. Ventimiglia, 2006.
  • Venturini, Alain. Le parler mentonasque Lou Sourgentin 56, April 1983 [Caserio & al. 2001: 25-30]

See also[edit]