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Piedmontese (autonym: piemontèis [pjem't?jz] or lenga piemontèisa, in Italian: piemontese) is spoken by some 700,000 people mostly in Piedmont, northwestern region of Italy. Though considered by many linguists a separate language, in Italy it is often considered an Italian dialect. It is linguistically included in the Gallo-Italic languages group of Northern Italy (with Lombard, Emiliano-Romagnolo and Ligurian), which would make it part of the wider western group of Romance languages, which also includes French, Occitan, and Catalan. It is spoken in Piedmont (except in the part east to Sesia), Liguria (northwest part near Savona) and Lombardy (some municipalities in the westernmost part of Lomellina in the Pavia province).
The first documents in the Piedmontese language were written in the 12th century, the sermones subalpini, when it was extremely close to Occitan. Literary Piedmontese developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, but it did not gain literary esteem comparable to that of French or Italian, other languages used in Piedmont. Nevertheless, literature in Piedmontese has never ceased to be produced: it includes poetry, theatre pieces, novels, and scientific work.
In 2004, Piedmontese was recognised as Piedmont's regional language by the regional parliament, although the Italian government has not yet recognised it as such. In theory, it is now supposed to be taught to children in school, but this is happening only to a limited extent.
The last decade has seen the publication of learning materials for schoolchildren, as well as general-public magazines. Courses for people already outside the education system have also been developed. In spite of these advances, the current state of Piedmontese is quite grave, as over the last 150 years the number of people with a written active knowledge of the language has shrunk to about 2% of native speakers, according to a recent survey. On the other hand, the same survey showed Piedmontese is still spoken by over half the population, alongside Italian. Authoritative sources confirm this result, putting the figure between 2 million (Assimil, IRES Piemonte and 3 million speakers (Ethnologue) out of a population of 4.2 million people. Efforts to make it one of the official languages of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics were unsuccessful.
Allophones of /a/ are [?, ?] in stressed syllables.
Piedmontese is written with a modified Latin alphabet. The letters, along with their IPA equivalent, are shown in the table below.
|Letter||IPA value||Letter||IPA value||Letter||IPA value|
|A a||,||H h||?||P p|
|B b||I i||or (semivocalic)||Q q||[i]|
|C c||or [ii]||J j||R r||~|
|D d||L l||S s||, [iii]|
|E e||or [iv]||M m||T t|
|Ë ë||N n||or [v]||U u||, or (semivocalic) ,|
|F f||O o||, /u/ or (semivocalic),||V v||, , or [vi]|
|G g||or [ii]||Ò ò||Z z|
Certain digraphs are used to regularly represent specific sounds as shown below.
|Digraph||IPA value||Digraph||IPA value||Digraph||IPA value|
|sc||/sk/, /st?/||sc, scc||/st?/||eu|
All other combinations of letters are pronounced as written. Grave accent marks stress (except for o which is marked by an acute to distinguish it from ò) and breaks diphthongs, so ua and uà are /wa/, but ùa is pronounced separately, /'ya/.
Some of the characteristics of the Piedmontese language are:
Piedmontese has a number of varieties that may vary from its basic koiné to quite a large extent. Variation includes not only departures from the literary grammar, but also a wide variety in dictionary entries, as different regions maintain words of Frankish or Lombard origin, as well as differences in native Romance terminology. Words imported from various languages are also present, while more recent imports tend to come from France and from Italian.
Lexical comparison with other Romance languages and English:
|pijé||prendere, pigliare||prendre||coger, tomar, pillar||pegar, tomar||a lua||prendre||to take|
|surtì||uscire||sortir||salir||sair||a ie?i||sortir/eixir||to go/come out|
|droché/casché/tombé||cadere, cascare||tomber||caer, tumbar||cair, tombar||c?dere||caure||to fall|
|travajé||lavorare||travailler||trabajar||trabalhar||a lucra||treballar||to work|
|istà||estate||été||verano, estío||verão, estio||var?||estiu||summer|