Check Out Siculo Gallo-Italic

These are fascinating Romance dialects spoken in Sicily. The are called the Gallo-Italic dialects of Sicily. Some of them are also found in other parts of Italy, mostly in the far south in Basilicata.
Gallo-Italic languages are spoken in far north of Italy and are so called because there is heavy French influence on these Italian varieties. They include Venetian, East and West Lombard, Piedmontese, Ligurian, Emilian and Romagnolo.
In the 1100’s and 1200’s, Sicily was ruled by Norman rulers from the north of France. They had conquered much of Italy, and were in control of parts of the north also. In order perhaps to consolidate their rule in Sicily, which they had just conquered, they sent some Norman soldiers to Sicily to help populate the region and set up Norman outposts there.
These were mostly soldiers from the southern Piedmont (Monferrate)  and Ligurian (Oltregiogo) regions of Italy and from the Provencal area in the south of France. There were also a few from the Lombard region and other parts of northern Italy. They went down there with their families and formed a number of settlements in Sicily and a few other places in Italy.
Over the next 800 years, their Gallo-Italic language came under heavy influence of varieties of Sicilian in Sicily, Basilicatan in Basilicata and other languages in other parts of Italy. Yet the heavy Gallo-Italic nature of their lects remains to this day and Sicilian speakers of surrounding villages find Gallo-Italic speakers impossible to understand.
The dialects have tended to die out somewhat in the past 100 years. Villagers were tired of speaking a language that could not be understood outside the village and increasingly shifted to the Sicilian language. A situation of bilingualism in Gallo-Italic and Sicilian developed. Over time, this became trilingualism as children learned Standard Italian in school. Gallo-Italic was used inside the village itself, and Sicilian was used for communication with outsiders.
Whether or not Gallo-Italic lects in different parts of Sicily can understand each other is not known, but they have all undergone independent paths of development over 800 years or so. The same is also an up in the air question about Basilicatan Gallo-Italic and Gallo-Italic settlements in other parts of the country. This is an interesting question in need of linguistic research.
In this 1 1/2 minute video, I am not sure if I understood a single word he said. The language he is speaking sounds like a mixture of Provencal Piedmontese with a heavy dose of Sicilian. Sicilian itself is so odd that a Sicilian speaker can barely be understood at all outside of Sicily. It has at least 250,000 words, 25% of which have no equivalent in Standard Italian. It underwent heavy French, Spanish and especially Greek and Arabic influences.

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8 thoughts on “Check Out Siculo Gallo-Italic”

  1. Sicily is very interesting in character. Palermo is quite Arab in flavor – despite being the capital the people are insular and conservative. Palermo is also a shithole. Siracusa has a more Greek flavor – the people are interested in commerce and have a relaxed cosmopolitan outlook.
    On the island, the Norman presence is felt only in the old buildings. Like other Viking-descended groups, the Normans had little culture of their own to impress upon the locals. But though they were few in number, they could rule the whole island, much like only a few thousand British could rule India, or the situation now where a few Jews can rule America.
    A footnote in Sicilian and Norman history is the Kingdom of Africa: – it’s quite amazing if you think about it.. flaxen-haired Vikings ruling over the ‘Kingdom of Africa’..

    1. ( much like only a few thousand British could rule India, or the situation now where a few Jews can rule America. ) No race should rule over another. ( it’s quite amazing if you think about it.. flaxen-haired Vikings ruling over the ‘Kingdom of Africa’..) Its not amazing its disgusting, but if you think it is you must really like Jews.

      1. Was the Islamic invasion of Sicily mostly the Arabs or the Berbers? I know the Ummayads were decisive in the full capture of Sicily.

        1. They’re the same thing. The North Africans are simply Arabized Berbers. They’re all the same people. The Berbers are just the ones who maintained their tribal cultures and languages, while the other Berbers assimilated to an Arabic identity and language. In general, North Africans are ~13% Black and ~87% White, though they vary a lot.

  2. As an Italian in Italy, although not an expert on the subject, I believe you’re slightly wrong – I don’t recall Normans ever existing in Piedmont or Lombardy, but I do recall “Lombards” from Piedmonts and Lombardy colonizing Sicily under the Normans; note that the word “Lombards” back then referred not to the historical Germanic people but to all those who lived in those regions (Piedmont and Lombardy) and would have been speakers of Gallo-Italic languages thus called because of the ancient Gauls that had lived there, not the French.

    1. Ruggero I married Adalasia del Monferrato. That’s why many of the Colons came from Piedmont. They were people from the lands of Adalasia. At least that’s what they told me.

  3. I’m from Nicosia, one of the village in which galloitalic is spoken. I can say that we understand people from Sperlinga (it is really close to us and nearly the same dialect) and we usually understand people from San Fratello, also if their dialect is a bit different from ours. If you’re curious you can give a look to this Facebook group where people speak in Nicosia’s dialect

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