Western Lombard dialect

Western Lombard
Milanes/Milanées, Insubrigh/Insübrich, lumbard ucidental
Native to Italy, Switzerland
Region Italy:
Lombardy (Province of Milan, Province of Monza, Province of Como, Province of Lecco, Province of Lodi, Province of Sondrio, Province of Varese, part of the Province of Pavia, a small part of the Province of Cremona)
Piedmont (Province of Novara, Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, a small part of the Province of Alessandria and the Province of Vercelli)
Canton Ticino
Some valleys of Canton Grigioni
Native speakers
unknown (date missing)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog west2343[2]
Linguasphere 51-AAA-odd ... 51-AAA-odj

Western Lombard is a Romance language spoken in Italy, in the Lombard provinces of Milan, Monza, Varese, Como, Lecco, Sondrio, a small part of Cremona (except Crema and its neighbours), Lodi and Pavia, and the Piedmont provinces of Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and a small part of Vercelli (Valsesia), and Switzerland (the Canton of Ticino and part of the Canton of Graubünden). After the name of the region involved, land of the former Duchy of Milan, this language is often referred to as Insubric (see Insubria and Insubres) or Milanese, or, after Clemente Merlo, Cisabduano (literally "of this side of Adda River").

Western Lombard and Italian

In Italian-speaking contexts, Western Lombard is often incorrectly called a dialect of Italian. Western Lombard and Standard Italian are very different.[3] Some speakers of Lombard varieties may have difficulty understanding each other and require a standard to communicate, but all Western Lombard varieties are mutually intelligible.[3] Western Lombard is relatively homogeneous (much more so than Eastern Lombard language), though it does present a number of variations,[4] mainly in relation to the vowels /o/, /ɔ/ and the development of /ts/ into /s/.

At the present time, Western Lombard has no official status in Lombardy or anywhere else. The only official language in Lombardy is Italian.


The general lines of diachronics of Western Lombard plural declension are drawn here, with reference to Milanese orthography:


The bulk of feminine words ends with the inflection -a; the feminine plural is non-inflected (la legora / i legor ; la cadrega / i cadregh). The final vowel finds its original length (in non-final syllable you can't hear the difference) that's often long when followed by a voiced consonant, short when followed by a voiceless consonant. When the stem ends with a particular group of consonants there can be the addition of a final -i or of a schwa between consonants (for example: in Milanese sing. scendra, plur. scendr > scender). For adjectives, the plural form and masculine form are often the same.


The bulk of masculine nouns end without inflections and plural masculine is always non-inflected (el tramvaj/i tramvaj ; el lett/i lett ). When the word stem terminates with a particular group of consonants there can be, in both singular and plural forms, the addition of a schwa between consonants. When the addition of schwa appears unnatural, a final -o (pron. /u/) is added to singular nouns, -i for plurals.

The masculine words ending in -in, or, less commonly, in -ett, have plural itt (fiolin/fiolitt). The masculine words ending in -ll have plura -j derived from dropping of -ll- and the addition of -i (el sidell/i sidej ; el porscell/i porscej ; el cavall / i cavaj). The same occurs in the determinate article: singular ell > el, plural elli > ej > i.

Masculine words ending in -a are unvarying. These are proper names, words from ancient Greek or idiomatic words such as pirla, a derogatory term for a person.


Western Lombard can be divided into four main varieties, referred by many Italian linguists as lombardo alpino (spoken in the provinces of Sondrio and of Verbania, Sopraceneri of Canton Ticino and Grigioni in Switzerland), lombardo-prealpino occidentale (spoken in the provinces of Como, Varese and Lecco, Lugano and its neighbors in Canton Ticino), basso-lombardo occidentale (Pavia and Lodi), and macromilanese (provinces of Milan, Monza, Novara and Valsesia of Vercelli). The boundaries are obviously schematic, since the political division in provinces and municipalities are usually independent from languages spoken.

Examples of Western Lombard language are:


The most important orthography in Western Lombard literature is the Classical Milanese orthography. It was used by Carlo Porta (1775–1821) and Delio Tessa (1886–1939). It was perfected by the Circolo Filologico di Milano. Other orthographies are the Ticinese, the Comasca, the Bosina, the Nuaresat, and the Lecchese.


Some texts in Western Lombard are available: various dictionaries, a few grammars, extensive literature (see Insubric literature), and a recent translation of the Gospels.

See also


  1. Although the upper bound to the number of speakers is around 2,500,000, this figure more closely represents the number of people who can understand Western Lombard. Because of immigration from other parts of Italy, the use of Lombard is very rare in Lombardy and most people are not able to speak it fluently.
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Western Lombard". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. 1 2 Ethnologue report for Lombard
  4. Gian Battista Pellegrini, Carta dei dialetti d'Italia, Pacini, Pisa, 1977.


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