Gallo-Italic of Sicily

Gallo-Italic of Sicily
Italian: Gallo-italico di Sicilia
Native to Northwest Italy
Region Central and eastern Sicily
Native speakers
60,000 (2006)[1]
  • Gallo-Italic of Sicily
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None
Linguistic map of Italy. Note the green specks of Gallo-Italic in Sicily.

The Gallo-Italic of Sicily (Italian: Gallo-italico di Sicilia) is a group of Gallo-Italic languages found in about fourteen isolated communities in central-eastern Sicily. It forms a language island within the Sicilian language[2][3] and dates back to migrations from Northern Italy during the time of Norman Roger I of Sicily,[4] and which continued under his successors.

The towns that were populated by the new immigrants became known as the "Lombard communities" (or Oppida Lombardorum in Latin, cumuna lummardi in Sicilian). In truth, the colonizers, known as "Lombards of Sicily" were not all from today's Lombardy but most parts of Northern Italy, including the Piedmont, Liguria and Emilia—"Lombardy" being the name for the whole of Northern Italy in the Middle Ages. Apart from their geographic origin, the one common attribute that the colonizers had was that they brought with them their Gallo-Italic languages. These idioms were to add to the Gallic influence of the newly developing Sicilian (influences which also include Norman and Old Occitan) and have been influenced by Sicilian itself over the centuries, creating distinctive Gallo-Italic languages.


Although Roger I took 30 years to take complete control of Sicily (1061-91), by 1080 he had effective control over much of the island. In the course of this conquest, large parts of central Sicily became depopulated as Muslims either fled to other communities that remained intact or else fled the island entirely for the Maghreb. Roger encouraged new migrations to these central parts; in particular, the migrations of Latins who were closely aligned with the Western church. The bulk of the migrations came from Northern Italy. The latter migrations were to provide the Vulgar Latin that would form the basis of the new Romance languages, while the former migrations would both influence the development of the language profoundly, while at the same time create altogether unique Gallo-Italic of Sicily idioms in some of the more isolated communities.

Area of diffusion: oppida Lombardorum

The main Gallo-italic languages of Sicily are found in the following towns:

Fondachelli-Fantina, one of the linguistic islands of Gallo-Italic

Other such communities also existed in the provinces of Catania (for example, in Paternò, Bronte and Randazzo), Syracuse (Ferla, Buccheri, Cassaro) and Palermo (Corleone).

Similar communities have survived in part outside of Sicily, in Basilicata, which was subject to similar forces during the same period in question; the particular dialects spoken by those communities are known as the Gallo-Italic of Basilicata.



  1. Fiorenzo Toso, Lingue d'Europa: la pluralità linguistica dei paesi europei fra passato e presente, Baldini Castoldi Dalai, Milano 2006, p. 158. (In Italian)
  2. Salvatore Carmelo Trovato, La Sicilia, in Cortelazzo et al. I dialetti italiani, UTET, Torino 2002, p. 882. (In Italian)
  3. Toso, Fiorenzo (2010). "Gallo-italica, comunità". Enciclopedia dell'Italiano, Treccani, 2010 (in Italian). Treccani. In Sicilia (Trovato 1998) si tratta dei dialetti di almeno ventiquattro località. Trovato (2002) tuttavia riconosce come ancora schiettamente gallo-italici solo i dialetti che condividono, tra le altre isoglosse settentrionali (➔ isoglossa), la dittongazione in sillaba libera tonica o davanti a palatale di ĕ ed ŏ latino: si tratta delle parlate di San Fratello (con l’ex-frazione di Acquedolci), San Pietro Patti, Montalbano Elicona, Novara di Sicilia (con l’ex frazione di Fondachelli-Fantina) in provincia di Messina; di Randazzo in provincia di Catania; di Nicosia, Sperlinga, Piazza Armerina e Aidone in provincia di Enna; di Ferla, Buccheri e Cassaro in provincia di Siracusa.
  4. Ann Katherine Isaacs, Immigration and emigration in historical perspective, Edizioni Plus, Pisa 2007, p, 71.

See also

External links

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