Last Updated on 5th February 2018 by Sophie Nadeau
Piedmont is a beautiful region in Northern Italy surrounded by mountains and the sea. The capital of Piedmont is Turin, and the region even has its own Romance language, Piedmontese. Also known as Piemontèis or Lenga Piemontèisa, and in Italian, Piemontese, Here are some beautiful and useful Piedmontese words and phrases!
A brief history of the Piedmontese Language
Located to the West of the boot-shaped country, Piemont is one of the twenty Italian regions and the area has played a significant role in shaping the history of Italy. While Italian is the main language spoken in the Piedmont area, many inhabitants speak Piedmontese as a second language, meaning that there are around two million speakers of the language today.
The word ‘piedmont’ derives from the Latin phrase ‘ad pedem montium,’ meaning at the foot of the mountains. This is predominantly thanks to the Piedmont region’s position at the base of the alps. Turin itself is surrounded by beautiful snow-capped mountains offering stunning views onto the city and beyond.
Although some scholars class Piedmontese as a dialect (and it has never been officially classed as a language), the difference between a language and dialect is nuanced and complicated in inextricable ways which are too lengthy to discuss in a blog post. Linguistically speaking, the terms ‘language’ and ‘dialect’ are most used in terms of politics and so Piedmontese can also be thought of as a language in its own right. After all, there’s no clear-cut way of distinguishing where one language cuts off and another begins…
As a result, close relatives of Piedmontese include the Gallo-Italic languages of Lombard (yes, like the Lombardy region!), Ligurian (just like Liguria), and Emilio-Romagnolo (from the Emilia-Romagna region). Today, Piedmontese is spoken by over two million people and contains twenty-four characters, based loosely on the Latin alphabet. Piemont is a Romance language and also related to French, Occitan, and Catalan.
The first documentation of Piemontese dates back to the 12th-Century when it was recorded in a very similar fashion to the Occitan language. Since then, the use of the Piedmont language has continued prolifically in literature, science and novels. Now, there are even over 10,000 Wikipedia articles written in Piedmontese! On the UNESCO list of endangered languages, Piedmontese is classed as ‘definitely endangered’.
One curious grammatical structure which is neither found in Italian nor French, but in Piedmontese, is that of ‘the verbal pronoun’. This part of the language is conjugated in such a way that the pronoun becomes part of the verb itself. In Piedmontese, you would say something along the lines of ‘I I drink’, rather than just ‘I drink’. There are also several words that exist Piedmontese and cannot be directly translated into Italian by just one word.
Here are fifteen beautiful and useful Piedmontese words and phrases:
Adiù | Hello
Ciào | An equivalent to the Italian ‘ciao’ (informal)
Grassie/ Mersì | Thanks
Nen/ Pa | No
Arvëdse/ Arvèisse | Goodbye
Cerea | Good evening/ an equivalent to the French ‘salut’
Italia | Italy
Tòr | Name for Torino’s football team
Ùa / uva | Grapes
Fiamengh (fiamenga) | Very beautiful (feminine version in brackets)
l’has-to? | Why? (singular interrogative question)
Come mai? per qual motivo? | Why? For what reason?
che ora ch’a l’é? | What’s the time?
Im ciamo… | My name is…
Esse un barbis | To be an expert in (literal meaning ‘to be a moustache’)