Category Archives: Italo-Celtic-Tocharian

Fake Controversies, Fake Settled Questions, and Ideological Authoritarianism in Modern Linguistics, with an Emphasis on Mutual Intelligibility and the Dialect/Language Question

There is a lie going around that the dialect/language question is controversial in Linguistics. It really isn’t. Most linguists have a pretty good idea of where to draw the line. If you don’t believe me, study the internals of the Summer Institute of Linguistics change request forms for languages. The field is a lot more uniform on this question than the cranks think.

Hardly anyone thinks Valencian is a separate language. There were 5-10 experts writing in on Valencian and they were all in agreement.

Romagnolo and Emilian were split with zero controversy. All it took was a few authoritative statements by the experts in these varieties to settle the question.

In other words, the language dialect question is what is known as a fake controversy.

Really the only controversy about this question comes from nationalists and language activists.

Sadly, many linguists are nationalists, and their work has been poisoned by their ideology for a long time now. Some of the worst ones of all are in Europe.

Linguistics in the Balkans and Poland has been badly damaged by nationalist linguists for a long time, with no sign of things getting better.

Similar nonsense is going on in of all places ultra-PC Denmark and Sweden. Bornholmian and Southeast Jutnish should have been split from Danish long ago. In fact, Jutnish was split, but Danish nationalist linguists pathetically had it removed.

The many langues d’oil have never been listed and probably never will be. No doubt this is due to the state of Linguistics in ultra-nationalistic France. There are easily 10-15+ langues d’oil that could be split off.

Greek linguist nationalists have raised their ugly heads over splits in Macro-Greek.

Bulgarian Linguistics is all nationalist and has been lost in retardation forever now. No, Macedonian is not a Bulgarian dialect.

There have been some ugly and ridiculous fights in the Baltics especially with Estonian and Latvian, neither of which is a single language. I doubt that Estonian and Latvian linguists are comporting themselves well here given the fanatical nationalism that overwhelms both lands.

There are easily 350-400 language inside of Sinitic or Chinese according to the estimate of the ultimate Sinologist Jerry Norman. The real figure is clearly closer to 1,000-2,000 separate languages. Chinese nationalism is mandatory for anyone doing Sinitic linguistics. No one wants to bring down the wrath of the Chinese government by pulling the curtain on their big lie that Chinese is one language. I am amazed that SIL even split Chinese into 14 languages without getting deluged with death threats.

Arabic is clearly more than one language, and SIL now has it split into 35 languages.  This is one odd case where they may have erred by splitting too much. That’s probably too many, but no one can even do any work in this area, since Arabists and especially Arabic speakers keep insisting, often violently, that Arabic is a single language. Never mind that they routinely can’t understand each other. We have Syrians and Yemenis at my local store, and no, the Syrian Arabic speakers cannot understand hard Yemeni Arabic, sorry. Some of the Yemeni Arabic speakers have even whispered conspiratorially in my ear when the others were not around that speakers of different Yemeni Arabic varieties often cannot even understand each other, and that’s not even split by SIL. I have a feeling that the Arabic situation is more like Chinese than not.

A Swedish nationalist wiped out several well documented separate languages inside of Macro-Swedish simply by making a few dishonest change request forms. SIL pathetically fell for it.

Occitan language activists wiped out the very well-supported split of Occitan into six separate languages based on ideology. They are trying to resurrect Occitan, and they think this will only work if there is one Occitan language with many dialects under it. Splitting it up into six or more languages dooms the tongue. So this was a political argument masquerading as a linguistic one. SIL fell for it again. Pathetic.

No one has talked much about these matters in the field, but a man named Harold Hammerstrom has written some excellent notes about them. He also takes the language/dialect question very seriously and has proposed more scientific ways of doing the splitting.

SIL was recently granted the ability to give out new ISO codes for languages, and since then, SIL has become quite conservative, lumping varieties everywhere in sight. This is because lumping is always the easy way out, as conservatives love lumping in everything from Classification to Historical Linguistics, and the field has been taken over by radical conservatives for some time now. Splitters are kooks, clowns, and laughing stocks. One gets the impression that SIL is terrified to split off new tongues for fear of bad PR.

As noted above, the language/dialect question is not as controversial in the field as Net linguist cranks would have you believe. SIL simply decides whatever they decide, and all the linguists just shrug their shoulders and go back to Optimality Theory, threatening to kill each other over Indo-European reconstructions, scribbling barely readable SJW sociolinguistic blather, or whatever it is they are crunching their brains about.

SIL grants an ISO code or refuses to grant one, and that’s that. No ISO code, no language. The main problem is that they refuse to split many valid languages mostly out of PC fear of causing a furor. Most of the opposition to splitting off new languages comes from linguistic hacks and cranks who exist for the most part on the Internet.

Most real linguists don’t seem to care very much. I know this because I talk to real linguists all the time. When it comes to the dialect/language split, most of them find it mildly intriguing, but hardly anyone is set off. You tell them that some dialect has now been split off as a separate language or two languages have now been merged into one, and they just perk up their ears and say, “Oh, that’s interesting.” Sometimes they shrug their shoulders and say, “They (SIL) are saying this is a separate language now,” as if they really don’t care one way or another.

Linguists definitely get hot under the collar about some things, but not about the dialect/language question, which is regarded more as a quizzical oddity. Most linguists furthermore care nothing at all about the mutual intelligibility debate, which at any rate was resolved long ago by SIL way back in the 1950’s. See the influential book by Cassad written way back then for the final word on the science of mutual intelligibility. Some enterprising linguists are finally starting to take mutual intelligibility seriously, but even they are being much too wishy-washy and unsciency about it. A lot of very silly statements are made like “there is no good, hard scientific way to measure mutual intelligibility, so all figures are guesswork.”

There’s no need for these theoretical shields or hyper-hedging because no one cares. No one in the field other than a few nutcases and kooks on the Internet even gives two damns about this question in the first place. The mutual intelligibility question is actually much less controversial in the field that the linguist kook loudmouths on the Net would have you believe.

We have more important things to fight about, like Everett’s resurrecting of the hated Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis; Chomsky’s Universal Grammar (defended pathetically by the Old Guard and under attack by the Everett crowd who everyone hates); not to mention Altaic; and Joseph Greenberg’s poor, regularly pummeled ghost, along with mass comparison in general.

The field is full of many a silly and pretty lie. One for instance is that Linguistics rejected the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis long ago, and now it is regarded as a laughing stock. Actually that’s not true. Really a bunch of bullies got together and announced very arrogantly that Sapir-Whorf was crap, and then it become written in stone the way a lot of nonsense our field believes does.

If you go back over the papers that “proved” this matter, it turns out that they never proved one thing. They just said that they proved Sapir-Whorf was nonsense, and everyone fell for it or just got in line like they were supposed to.

Not to mention that Linguistics is like an 8th Grade playground.

Let’s put it this way. If you advocate for Sapir-Whorf in academia, I pray for your soul. You also damn well better have tenure.

I don’t know how anyone advocates for Altaic these days. I would never advocate for Altaic or any remotely controversial historical linguistics hypothesis without tenure.

The field is out for blood, and they burn heretics at the stake all the time. We’ve probably incinerated more wrong thinkers than the Inquisition by now.


Filed under Afroasiatic, Altaic, Arabic, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Chinese language, Comparitive, Danish, Denmark, Dialectology, Europe, France, Germanic, Greece, Greek, Hellenic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Indo-Irano-Armeno-Hellenic, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Classification, Language Families, Linguistics, Nationalism, Occitan, Poland, Political Science, Regional, Romance, Semitic, Sinitic, Sino-Tibetan, Sociolinguistics, Sweden

Did Liebnitz Discover Indo-European?

The language or dialect of the ancient Goths is very different from present-day Germanic, although it draws from the same source. Ancient Gaulish was even more different, to judge from its closest relative, which is Welsh, Cornish and Breton. But Irish is still more different and displays the traces of a very antique British, Gaulish and Germanic tongue.

However these languages all come from one source and can be considered to be alterations of one and the same language, which could be called Celtic. In the Antiquity, Germanic and Gaulish people were called Celts, and if one tries to understand the origins of Celtic, Latin and Greek, which have many roots in common with Germanic or Celtic languages, one may hypothesize that this is due to the common origin of all these peoples descended from the Scyths, who came from the Black Sea, crossed the Danube and the Vistula Rivers, of whom one part went to Greece, and the other formed Germanic and Gaulish people. This is a consequence of the hypothesis that Europeans came from Asia.” [original in French]

– Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, Nouveaux Essais sur l’entendement Humain, 1764.

Change a few things here and there, and you have Sir William Jones famous speech in Calcutta in 1876, 112 years after this was written.

More than anything else, I suppose this just goes to show us that most great theories have one or often more intellectual precursors.

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Filed under Antiquity, Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Celtic, European, Europeans, Gaelic, Germanic, Greek, Hellenic, History, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Indo-Irano-Armeno-Hellenic, Irish Gaelic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Race/Ethnicity

Galician, Portuguese, and the Possibility of a Third Language Between Them

Dwan Garcez: Portuguese and Galician are the same language.

This person is Portuguese, and what they are saying is Portuguese nationalism or Portuguese linguistic nationalism. Portuguese and Galician were one language until 1550 when they split. But that time period of 450 years is about the same as between Ukrainian and Russian and Belorussian and Russian. Russian, Belorussian and Ukrainian are regarded as separate languages. And that is about the same time split as between English and Scots as Scots split off from English right around that time. Scots is regarded as a separate language from English. English has only 42% intelligibility of Scots.

Boy, I do not agree with that for one second. If you want to be sure you are not understood when you go to Lisbon, speak Galician!

If you leave Galicia, you will only be understood for six miles inside the country. After that, forget it. People who live on the border in Galicia say that they can understand their friends across the border in Portugal fairly well but not completely, and they usually both speak in Spanish to avoid communication problems.

Furthermore, Ethnologue has decided that Galician and Portuguese are different languages.

Portuguese people cannot understand well the Galician/Portuguese mix spoken right around the border with Galicia. Some Portuguese can hardly understand Tras Os Montes Portuguese at all. In fact, the Alto-Minho and Tras Os Montes dialects of Portuguese are not well understood in Portugal or in most of Galicia. This is really Galician but it is not well understood to the north in Vigo and Santiago de Compostela. Residents of the Minho, though they really are Galicians, say they do not speak Galician. Their lect is even further from Portuguese. You could make a case that Alto-Minho/Tras Os Montes is a separate language, but it would be a hard sell.

Already at least one Galician dialect has been split off into a separate language. Fala is recognized as a separate language and there are good grounds for making that case.


Filed under Dialectology, Europe, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Portugal, Portuguese, Regional, Romance, Sociolinguistics, Spain

An Overview of Walloon, a Macro-French Language of Belgium

Mountleek: Yes, probably every country is different. France is, as we know, quite aggressive towards other languages, for example.

I still think that the strength of regional lects is overrated. How many people in Belgium actually speak Walloon? Some middle aged and older people in the countryside, and on top of that, only in some situations? Maybe they start using Walloon when they enter middle age? But still, people who move into cities will not speak Walloon, there is no occasion to use it.

I believe that in Switzerland, the local German dialects are strong though.

Walloon has 500,000 speakers among five major lects. The central lect or Central Walloon is understood by all, so it is more or less the koine or standard. Intelligibility among the lects is very controversial, but the eastern and southern lects or Eastern and Southern Walloon are hard to understand.

Walloon is doing pretty well. I have had at least a couple of commenters on here who were native speakers. They seemed to be men in their 30’s-40’s.

You have whole cities in some places where everyone speaks Walloon, especially over by the French border. Everyone in Tournai speaks Walloon, even teenagers. I know that from reports on the Net. Tournai actually speaks Picardian Walloon or Western Walloon. There’s Picardian Walloon, and then right across the border in France by Valenciennes there’s Walloonian PicardOne’s Picard, and one’s Walloon. Oh, and they can’t understand each other.

By the way, Picard is very heavily spoken in Valenciennes in France on the border. Of all of the langues d’oil, Picard is maybe in the best shape. The Picardian region is a hardscrabble rural area with a  lot of miners and a very traditional way of life, and they don’t want to give up Picard.  Furthermore, Picard has reasonably good intelligibility with Parisien at 65%. Picard has all sorts of dialects within it.

I think Charleroi is also heavy Walloon speaking. I know that Namur is Walloon-speaking also.

Really, the whole of French Flanders speaks either Walloon or Belgian French, and Belgian French is quite different from Parisien French. The differences are at least like British and American English and maybe even worse. I am sure that all Belgian French speakers can understand Parisien French. The question would be if the Parisien speakers can understand Belgian French, and there are some reports of difficult intelligibility in that direction.

From what I can see there are whole cities where everyone down to teenagers heavily speaks Walloon, so I figure it will be around til the end of the century. I found a French messageboard where everyone was writing in French. It was for regional languages. There were certainly a lot of angry people on there, but they were all French people or French speakers, they all spoke the various minority languages of France and the surrounding areas, and most importantly, most people on the board were teenagers and young adults in their 20’s! The Walloon section was very active, full of Walloon-speaking teenagers from all over the area, and many of them were writing in Walloon, so apparently there is a written standard.

Belgium has not been real evil about regional languages like France. I doubt if it has been real great either. It’s probably somewhere in the middle. These countries do not wish to recognize any minority lect that is related the official languages, which is another matter altogether.

For sure a lot to most middle aged people speak Walloon in a lot of places, and no doubt majorities of the old people speak it also in other places.

The lects are Western Walloon, Northern Walloon, Central Walloon, Eastern Walloon and Southern Walloon. Eastern for sure and Southern probably are separate languages. Central of course is the standard language, so that gives us two or probably three Walloons. Next comes the question of whether it is reasonable to split off Western and Northern Walloon, and I have no answer to that. I think all of the lects are in good shape.

In a small village in Belgium on the French border, Meuse, a dialect of Lorrain, a langue d’oil, was formerly spoken, but it may be extinct by now. Lorrain has many lects within it, and the language as a whole is in very bad shape. There are some middle aged and older speakers in places like Lille and Nancy. Some Lorrain lects which still have a few speakers have seen declines of up to 98% in the number of speakers. Lorrain is surely an endangered language. Some French speakers say they can understand maybe 1% of Lorrain.

The langues d’oil are really separate languages. The French state has even admitted that, but it still won’t give them any rights due to “progressive” Jacobinism which has said for 200 years that Parisien is the only language in France, and there can be no other official languages. For a supposedly progressive ideology, Jacobinism is awfully nationalistic and ugly. Laicite secularism seems to go a bit to far too if you ask me.

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Filed under Belgium, Europe, France, French, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Regional, Romance, Sociolinguistics, Switzerland

Problems with Newly Created Standard Languages and Speakers of Traditional Varieties: Evidence from France In Occitan and Breton

Mountleek: And it’s quite problematic that there are five Breton languages. The official written version is probably quite alien to actual speakers. Then they don’t use the written form, and extinction will probably speed up. Or maybe not. It depends on how people speak among themselves. I wonder how much it is possible nowadays to maintain a spoken language through generations where the written language is different.

There is an official Breton. It may be used on radio and TV and whatnot. I have no idea if the traditional speakers understand it. Who knows? It would be nice to have a Breton koine.

The problem is that they have created some Neo-Breton that is being taught to the youngsters. Some young people are growing up to speak it quite well. The problem is that it is a fake language, and tragically the Neo-Breton speakers say they cannot understand the speakers of the traditional Breton languages and the traditional speakers say they cannot understand the Neo-Breton speakers either. I do believe that Breton will continue on until the end of the century though if only in the Neo-Breton form . A Breton koine is certainly needed if it does not already exist, but given the gap between traditional and new speakers, it seems a schism has already opened between the two groups.

A somewhat similar situation is developing with the creation of a new Neo-Occitan out of the ~20 Occitan languages and many more dialects. It isn’t a language that anyone ever spoke. There is some sort of problems regarding this Neo-Occitan but I am not sure what they are. The main thing is the traditional speakers are not giving up their native lects in favor of this new fake language.

Occitan also should last until the end of the century if only in the Neo-Occitan form. However, children are still being raised speaking Occitan, especially in the Occitan Valleys of Italy where entire villages speak the local lect which in most cases is actually a separate language. There are still many speakers of the traditional Occitan languages. Most are older, but there are quite a few speakers in their 30’s and 40’s in some areas. Aranese Occitan in Spain seems to be spoken by most everyone, but people worry that even it is in trouble.

A koine for Occitan would also be very nice, or they could just speak French, but that sort of defeats the notion of speaking Occitan in the first place.


Filed under Celtic, Europe, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Italy, Language Families, Linguistics, Occitan, Regional, Romance, Sociolinguistics, Spain

Western Europe: What Native Languages Are Spoken in France?

Montleek: Robert, is it possible that in Western Europe, the regional lects have been preserved better, while in eastern Europe are preserved worse? There was communism/socialism in Eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect.

In France, the regional lects are the langues d’ oil (still spoken, believe it or not!), Occitan, Breton, Alsatian, Franconian, Arpitan, and Flemish.

With Arpitan, Alsatian, Occitan and the langues d’oil, you can definitely get to the point of having a different lect in every major city if not every town in some cases.

There are a number of languages split through these regional lects. There are probably at least 10 full languages in the langues d’oil, ~20 in Occitan and Arpitan, five in Breton and more than one in Alsatian. The Flemish spoken in France is a separate language from that spoken in Belgium, hardly intelligible to a Belgian.


Filed under Belgium, Celtic, Europe, France, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Moselle Franconian, Occitan, Regional, Romance

Western Europe: What Native Languages Are Spoken in Spain?

Montleek:  Robert, is it possible that in Western Europe, the regional lects have been preserved better, while in eastern Europe are preserved worse? There was communism/socialism in Eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect. Robert, is it possible that in western Europe, the regional lects have been preserved better, while in eastern Europe are preserved worse? There was communism/socialism in eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect .

In Spain, there is are several major languages such as Asturian-Leonese, Extremaduran-Cantabrian, Eonavian/Berciano, Basque, Catalan, Aragonese, Benasquesque, Galician and some odd forms of Portuguese. Murcian, Andalucian, Churro and Manchengo are very marginal cases, but are probably better seen as divergent dialects of Castillian.

With Catalan and Asturian-Leonese, you are absolutely in a situation of a different lect in every town or even village.

Eonavian is absolutely a separate language though it is not recognized. Berciano is the southern part of the Eonavian language.

There is definitely more than one language in Galician.

Cantabrian is actually a language and not a Spanish dialect. In fact, it is a part of the recognized language called Extremaduran.

There may be 3-4 languages inside Basque; surely there are at least two.

Benasquesque is actually a separate language between Catalan and Aragonese.

Occitan is only spoken as Aranese, but is probably a separate language.

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Western Europe: What Native Languages Are Spoken in Belgium?

Montleek: Robert, is it possible that in Western Europe, the regional lects have been preserved better, while in eastern Europe are preserved worse? There was communism/socialism in Eastern Europe, therefore more tendency not to continue speaking with regional lect.

In Belgium, there are regional lects of Flemish, Dutch, French, Limburgs and German.

Flemish is diverse, though I am not sure if you get to a situation of a different lect in every town.

Dutch is spoken in Belgium, sometimes in forms like Brabants not intelligible to a Dutchman.

Limburgs is actually a separate language spoken in the east. German is spoken in the far south.

The German spoken is a separate language called Ripaurian.

French is spoken as Walloon, actually a separate language

There are probably several languages in Belgian Flemish. There may be two in Limburgs. and there are at least two languages in Walloon. There are probably a few languages inside Belgian Ripaurian. There are at least two languages in Walloon.

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Filed under Balto-Slavic-Germanic, Belgium, Dutch, Europe, French, German, Germanic, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Language Families, Linguistics, Regional, Riparian, Romance

An Overview of the Corsican and Sardinian Languages

Italian writes:

I’m surprised, I thought Corsican was close to the Tuscan dialect and part of the Central Italian languages, much unlike Sardinian?

This is correct, but in the north of Sardinia are two languages that are Sardinian-Corsican transitional. One is Gallurese, and the other is Sassarese.

Gallurese is close to Corsican and Sassarese and not as close to Logudorese and Campidanese to the south, which are the real pure Sardinian languages. Gallurese has only 81% lexical similarity with Sassarese. Some people say Gallurese and Sassarese are are just Corsican. Indeed, the Encyclopedia of Endangered Languages treats Gallurese as an outlying dialect of Corsican.

However, Gallurese is not even intelligible with itself, so the idea that it is a Corsican dialect seems dubious. For instance, Santa Teresa Gallurese (Teresino) and San Teodoro Gallurese are not intelligible with the rest of Gallurese. San Teodoro is transitional Gallurese-Logudorese, and Teresino is transitional Gallurese-Corsican.

Sassarese is close to Gallurese and Corsican and not as close to Logudorese and Campidanese to the south. Sassarese has to be seen as the same language as Gallurese due to claims that they are mutually intelligible, but such claims may be dubious.

Sassarese has much more Logudorese influence than Gallurese does. Gallurese has only negligible Logudorese influence. So in that sense, Sassarese and Gallurese are quite different.

Sassarese has a number of dialects. Sassarese is sometimes also known as Turritano. But strictly speaking, Turritano is the dialect of Porto Torres (Portotorrese), and Sassarese is the dialect of Sassari. The dialect of Valledoria is called Muddizzesu.

Typologically, Sassarese is a mix between Gallurese, Sardinian and Italian with Italian plurals. Sassarese arose from  a mix of Tuscan, Corsican, Logudorese and Genoese. The base of Sassarese is 12th Century Pisan Tuscan, and it still resembles a Pisan dialect from the 1100’s. It also has a bit of Genoan in it and quite a few Sardinian words.

The Encyclopedia of Endangered Languages treats Sassarese as an outlying Corsican language. This is the same classification they give to Gallurese. However, given that Sassarese-Corsican intelligiblity is not full, it does not make sense to say that Sassarese is a Corsican dialect.

Gallurese has only 81% lexical similarity with Sassarese. The 81% lexical similarity between Gallurese and Sassarese implies that the two varieties probably are not fully mutually intelligible.

Campidanese is not intelligible with Sassarese.

There are some transitional Gallurese-Sassarese dialects, but most of them are better analyzed as Sassarese.

Castellanese is a transitional Sassarese-Gallurese dialect, but it resembles Sassarese more. Castellanese is really a part of Sassarese, even though it is Sassarese-Gallurese transitional. The dialect of Castelsardo is said to be completely different from the Sassarese dialects of Sassari and Stintino. Intelligibility data is not known.

Castellanese is spoken in Sedini (Sedinese), Turgu (Terghese), Santa Maria Coghinas, Lu Bagnu, Valledoria, La Ciaccia and La Muddizza. In Turgu, three dialects are spoken – Nulvese, Osilese and Castellanese. In Valledoria they speak three different dialects – a mixture of Sedinese and Gallurese, a Muddizza dialect close to Sedinese, and Gallurese from the Aggius region (Aggese). Because we cannot split Gallurese and Sassarese due to claims of mutual intelligibility, we cannot split these Gallurese-Sassarese transitional lects either because at the moment, Gallurese and Sassarese are a single language, so a transitional lect between them is a part of that single language.

Corsican itself is probably more than one language.,

Bonifacio is less intelligible to the rest of Corsican than the rest of the dialects. It is dying out and only has 600-800 speakers or so. It is closer to Genoese Ligurian. It is best seen as a separate language.

On Maddalena Island a lect called Islanu, Maddelaninu, or Maddalenino. It is probably not intelligible with the rest of Gallurese, but it may be intelligible with Bonifacio Corsican and Teresino Gallurese.

It closely resembles Bonifacio. These people came from Bonifacio 200-300 years ago. Subsequently a lot of Genoan words went in when it was a Genoan naval base. This may be best seen as a Bonifacio dialect.

Corsican is spoken on the Tuscan island of Capraia (Capraiese). The language is mostly Corsican, but it has many Ligurian words. Intelligibility between Capraia and the rest of Corsican is not known, but it is probably not full, as Standard Corsican speakers say that they cannot Bastia Corsican which is very close to Capraiese. Capraiese probably lacks full intelligibility with Ligurian.

Corsican is indeed intelligible with Italian, but mostly with Tuscan Italian from Livorno and Florence. Tuscans can understand Corsican perfectly. It is said that Standard Italian speakers can understand it well, but actually Standard Italian-Corsican intelligiblity is somewhat marginal and probably below 90%.

This is interesting because Standard Italian is based on Florence Tuscan from the 1500’s, so one would think that Standard Italian speakers could understand Corsican as well as modern day Tuscans. However, Standard Italian has undergone many changes since the 1500’s to the point where Standard Italian speakers, especially from the south of Italy, say that they cannot understand old Tuscan men speaking hard Tuscan Italian at all. Italian speakers to the north of Italy such as Trieste understand even hard Tuscan quite well.

Sometimes Standard Italian and Corsican are just close enough to more or less understand each other – other times, they are just far enough to not be understood. Intelligibility is probably around 80-90% between the Corsican and Standard Italian. Intelligibility between Corsican and Sassarese is good but not total, possibly on the order of 80%. Intelligibility of Gallurese is said to be “not immediate, but not difficult either.” It is not known how to quantify that.

All of the principal Corsican dialects have low lexical similarity with each other. Major Corsican dialects have 79-89% lexical similarity, hence may be separate languages. Dialects are Cismontano Capocorsino,  Oltramontano, Oltramontano Sartenese, Bonifacio, Bastia, and Capraiese (spoken in Capraia). 79-89% is lower than the lexical similarity between languages like French, Italian and Spanish, to give you an idea of how lexical similarity relates to intelligibility.

Indeed, Cismontano speakers cannot understand the Oltramontano Sartenese spoken in Sartene, nor can they understand Bastia. Bastia is close to Capraiese.

Southern Corsican dialects are actually closer to the Gallurese and Sassarese languages than they are to the rest of Corsican.

Sardinian is absolutely at least two languages – Logudorese, Campidanese, and possibly more. Logudorese dialects are not all mutually intelligible, nor are Campidanese dialects. Logudorese and Campidanese are not fully intelligible with each other. Sardinians themselves say that the language changes about every 15 miles in Sardinia, there are many dialects and they can’t understand half of them.

Campidanese is one of the real Sardinian languages. Lexical similarity is only 73% with Logudorese and 66% with Gallurese. There is no way that it could possibly be intelligible with either Logudorese or Gallurese with lexical similarity numbers that low. It is widely used in the south and is very different from the rest of Sardinian. Campidanese has 670,000 speakers. It is spoken by about 69% of the population in the area, but it is understood by 97%. Campidanese is more variable than Gallurese but not as much as Logudorese.

Arborese is often regarded as a fourth split in Sardinian. It is lumped in with Campidanese, but it’s really transitional between Campidanese and Logudorese. It is spoken in Oristano Province, San Vero Milis, Cabras, Milis, Samugheo, Bonarcado. Bonarcado speaks North Arborese, and San Very Milis and Milis speak South Arborese. Milis speaks West Arborese, and Samugheo, Busachi, Neoneli and Fordongianus speak East Arborese. It is spoken in the northeast  of the Campidanese region on the border of Logudorese. Intelligibility between Arborese and either Campidanese or Logudorese is not known.

Barbaricino is another major language-level split in Campidanese. It is spoken in Mandrolisai and Barbagia around the towns of Laconi, Seulo, Samugheo, Sorgono, Meana Sardo, Ortueri, Atzara, Tiana, Aritzo, Belvì, Desulo, Ollolai, Fonni, Orgosolo, Oliena, Ovodda, Mamoiada, Lodine, Gavoi, Olzai,and Tonara. While Barbaricino is similar to Nuorese, it is  very divergent.

Cagliaritano Logudorese speakers cannot understand the Barbaricino dialect spoken in the far north of the Campidanese region near the border to Logudorese. South-Central Barbaricino is probably best seen as a separate language within Campidanese, but it is probably intelligible with Logudorese Barbaricino. Barbaricino, a Campidanese-Logurdorese transitional lect, apparently has dialects that are more Campidanese and dialects that are more Logudorese.

Barbaricino in general does not appear to be intelligible with other Sardinian lects. It  is formally part of Nuorese, even though part of it is Logudorese and part of it is Campidanese. On the other hand, it appears that even the Nuorese spoken in Dorgali is not intelligible with Barbaricino.

There are a number of large language-level major splits in Campidanese. Whether these represent separate languages or divergent dialects is not known.

The following are the large splits in Campidanese:

Ogliastrino is considered by some to be a major language-level split in Campidanese. It is spoken in the east-central part of Sardinia from Tertena to Urzulei and is very archaic.

Sarrabese is spoken in the Sarrabus-Genei region of far southeastern Sardinia around the towns of San Vito, Muravera, Villaputzu and Castiadas.

Sulcitano is spoken in Sulcis around the towns of Iglesias, Carbonia and Sant’Antioco in far Southwest Sardinia on the coast and on the island of Sant’Antioco Island.

Cagliaritano is spoken in the capital of Cagliari and in Quartu Sant’Elena and Sinnai.

Western Campidanese is spoken in the states of Trexenta, Marmilla (Barumini, Tuili, Genoni and Mandas) and Medio Campidano (Gonnosfanadiga, Villacidro, Sanluri and Guspini).

Logudorese is the other major split in Sardinian along with Campidanese. It is very different from the rest of Sardinian. Lexical similarity other Sardinian languages is low – 73% with Campidanese and Sassarese and only 70% with Gallurese. There is no way that Logudorese can be intelligible with those three languages with figures that low. Farmers and housewives over 35 speak only Logudorese and hardly speak any Italian. It is spoken by 330,000 people and understood by 533,000.

Logudorese is very different from place to place. Olbia, Berchidda, Oschiri, Tula, Posada and Siniscola all have huge differences in their dialects. It is more variable than Campidanese and much more variable than Gallurese.

Baroniese is major split in Logudorese. It is similar to Nuorese. Baroniese is spoken in the Baronie region in the area of Orosei, Siniscola, Galtellì, Lode and Done.

Nuorese is often considered to be the third major language-level division of Sardinian – Logudorese, Campidanese and Nuorese, but Nuorese is much closer to Logudorese. It is spoken in the east-central part of Sardinia. Nuorese is said to be almost the same language as Logudorese, and the only differences are some archaic words and differences in pronunciation. Apparently Logudorese speakers from Macomer cannot understand Nuorese. Nuorese appears to be a separate language.

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Filed under Dialectology, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italian, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Romance, Sociolinguistics

What Language Is This?

Well yes, it is spoken in Europe, and if you are halfway smart at all, you figured out that it is a Romance language. If you are not halfway smart, you didn’t figure that out until I told you. So we have a Romance language here. Indeed, but which one? There are lots of Romance languages spoken in Europe.

Ok from then on, you are on your own. Hop to it, slackers!

A sos tempos de sa pizzinnia, in bidda, totus chistionaiamus in limba. In domos nostras no si faeddaiat atera limba. E deo, in sa limba nadìa, cominzei a connoscher totu sas cosas de su mundu. A sos ses annos, intrei in prima elementare e su mastru de iscola proibeit, a mie e a sos fedales mios, de faeddare in s’unica limba chi connoschiamus: depiamus chistionare in limba italiana, «la lingua della Patria», nos nareit, seriu seriu, su mastru de iscola. Gai, totus sos pizzinnos de ‘idda, intraian in iscola abbistos e allirgos e nde bessian tontos e cari-tristos.


Filed under Language Families, Linguistics, Romance, Spot the Language