Lombard Language

General Overview (Draft notes)

Area of Distribution and Number of Speakers

Lombard is a Western Romance language spoken by 10,000,000 in northern Italy (the region of Lombardy, eastern Piedmont, the south-western part of Trentino-Alto Adige, the northern border area of Emilia Romagna) and various places in Sicily (1976), and some other 303,000 in the cantons of Ticino and Grigioni (Graubüunden) in Switzerland (1995).

Origin and History 

According to H. Lausberg and G. Hull etc. there was a specific variety of Vulgar Latin from which the Gallo-Italic idioms (including Lombard), Venetan and Istriot evolved. In his study on "The Linguistic Unity of Northern Italy and Rhaetia" (published in 1982) Prof. G. Hull considered this ancestral protolanguage in the frames of the Gallo-Romance linguistic subgroup and gave it the techical name of "Padanian".


The numerous Lombard dialects are classified in two main groups:


The traditional orthography is modelled on the French pattern and give a blurred impression of the language phonology. More recently, in Switzerland and Valtellina, there has evolved a rather phonetic orthography, strongly influenced by German and marked by the usage of the letters ö and ü. The following examples illustrate the two systems in contrast with Italian:
Traditional Orthography Swiss Orthography Italian
A voeuri portà foeura el can. A vöri purtà föra el can. Voglio portare fuori il cane.
Grant, gross, pussé ciula che baloss. Grand, gross, püssé ciüla che baloss. Grande, grosso, più stupido che furbo.
O mia bella madonina che te brilet de lontan... O mia bela madunina che te brilet de luntan... O mia bella madonnina che brilli da lontano...


Lombard has 8 vowels: [a], [], [e], [i], [], [ø], [u] and [y].

Accent is free and may fall on the ultimate, penultimate or antepenultimate syllable. Its place is recognizable from orthography.


Common Lombard has lost to great extent the difference between sg. and pl., at least amongst masculine
nouns / adjectives:

Lombard has almost everywhere two forms:

1) unmarked form: masculine sg. and both the plurals:

2) marked form: feminine sg.: So we have:


... to be written ...

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© Zdravko Batzarov