Romagnol dialect

Native toItaly, San Marino
RegionPrimarily Emilia-Romagna, San Marino
Ethnicity1.1 million (2008)[1]
Native speakers
Unknown, c. 430,000, assuming Romagnol and Emilian retained at same rate (2006)[2]
Language codes
ISO 639-3rgn
Linguasphere51-AAA-oki ... okl
Emiliano-Romagnolo area.jpg
Geographic distribution of Romagnol (shown in dark pink).
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Romagnol (also known as Rumagnol) is a group of closely related dialects of the Emilian-Romagnol language spoken in the historical region of Romagna, which is today in the south-eastern part of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The name itself is derived from the Lombard name for the region Romania.[4] It is also spoken outside the region, particularly in the neighboring province of Pesaro-Urbino (part of the Marche region) and in the independent country of San Marino.[5] It is classified as a threatened language, due to older generations having “neglected to pass on the dialect as a native tongue to the next generation”.[6]


While contemporaneous with modern Standard Italian, it is technically a member of the Gallo-Italic branch and more comparable to the “northern group” of Italian dialects.[7] This includes the dialects Emilian, Ligurian, Lombard, and Piedmontese. It is sometimes considered a subdialect of a larger Emilian-Romagnol language, which encompasses a broad continuum of dialects spanning the region of Emilia-Romagna.

Geographic distribution[edit]

Western border[edit]

West of Romagna, the Emilian language is spoken. The border with Emilian-speaking areas is the Sillaro river, which runs 25 km east from Bologna to the west of (Castel San Pietro Terme). Emilian is spoken, to the east, in Imola, the language is Romagnol. In Emilia-Romagna, Emilian is spoken in all the rest of the region moving from the Sillaro river to the west, up to Piacenza.

Northern border[edit]

The Reno River is the border between Romagnol and the dialect of Ferrara. Romagnol is spoken also in some villages northwards of the Reno River, such as Argenta, Emilia–Romagna and Filo, where people of Romagnol origin live alongside people of Ferrarese origin. Ferrara goes into Emilian language territory.

Southern border[edit]

Outside Emilia-Romagna, Romagnol is spoken in the Republic of San Marino ("Sammarinese"), in the Marecchia Valley, in the Conca Valley (Montefeltro) and in all of the Pesaro e Urbino province.

It is also spoken in the Ancona-Sirolo border area.[citation needed]


Romagnol's first acknowledgement outside regional literature was in Dante Alighieri’s treatise De vulgari eloquentia, wherein Dante compares “the language of Romagna” to his native Tuscan dialect.[8] Eventually, in 1629, the author Adriano Banchieri wrote the treatise Discorso della lingua Bolognese, which countered Dante’s claim that the Tuscan dialect was better, arguing his belief that Bolognese (a subdialect of Romagnol that saw wide use in writing) was superior in “naturalness, softness, musicality, and usefulness.” Romagnol received more recognition after Romagna gained independence from the Papal States.[9]

There is also a large repertoire of folklore legends, myths, and fables in Romagnol, due to its role in local geopolitical history (e.g. Caesar crossing the Rubicon and Theodoric’s conquest and subsequent rule of the Ostrogothic Kingdom). Romagna’s geographic diversity was home to a variety of lifestyles and trade backgrounds, such as “the mountaineers of the Alps, the fisherman of the Adriatic, the farmers of the plains, and the city folk,” which in turn, allowed for a large range of topics and themes present in the literature. Darker themes, such as poverty and pessimism, are also known to be common subjects of Romagnol poetry, fables, and prose.[10]


16th to 19th century[edit]

The first appearance of a distinct Romagnol literary work is "Sonetto romagnolo" by Bernardino Catti, from Ravenna, printed 1502. It is written in a mixture of Italian and Romagnol[citation needed].

The first Romagnol poem dates back to the end of 16th century: E Pvlon matt. Cantlena aroica (Mad Nap), a mock-heroic poem based on Orlando Furioso and written by an anonymous author from San Vittore di Cesena [it]. The original poem comprised twelve cantos, of which only the first four survived (1848 lines).[9]

The first Romagnol poet to win fame was the cleric Pietro Santoni, (Fusignano, 1736–1823). He was the teacher of Vincenzo Monti, one of the most famous Italian poets of his time.

In 1840 the first Romagnol-Italian Dictionary was published by Antonio Morri [it], printed in Faenza.

20th century[edit]

The 20th century saw a flourishing of Romagnol literature. Theatrical plays, poems and books of a high quality were produced. Some of the best known Romagnol authors are:

  • Raffaello Baldini, who won in 1988 the "Premio Viareggio" and in 1995 the "Premio Bagutta," known for long pessimistic poems and prose[9]
  • Tonino Guerra (1920–2012), wrote poems during his exile to WWII-era Germany, focusing on people of suffering and poverty[9]
  • Olindo Guerrini, with "Sonetti romagnoli"[citation needed]
  • Aldo Spallicci [it], an antifascist exiled from Romagna. He wrote poems such as "Rumâgna" that were often descriptive of Romagna[9]



Unlike Standard Italian, not all nouns end in a theme vowel. Masculine nouns lack theme vowels and feminine nouns typically (but not always) terminate in "a." To form plurals, masculine nouns and adjectives undergo lexically-specified ablaut. In the case of feminine nouns and adjectives, "a" becomes "i" or deletes if after a consonant cluster or double consonant.[7]

Romagnol Italian
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Sacrêri (m. sg.) Sacrëri (m. pl.) Sacrario Sacrari
grând (sg.) grènd (pl.) grande grandi

Though both languages derive their lexicon from Vulgar Latin, some words differ in gender.

Romagnol Italian Latin English
la risa il riso risus (masc.) laughter
e' red la rete rete (neuter) net


Italian and Romagnol share much of the same features when it comes to verbs. Both languages are SVO in simple sentences. Verbs are conjugated according to tense, mood, and person. Romagnol also has 4 conjugations compared to Italian's 3: the 1st, êr; the 2nd, -ér; the 3rd, -ar; and the 4th, -ìr. One marked difference in syntax between Romagnol and Italian is that pronouns are obligatory, and some verbs in Romagnol use a reflexive construction (even if the speaker is not the second argument of the verb) where Italian uses an intransitive construction.[11]

Romagnol Italian English
Mè a'm so lavê (Io) mi sono lavato I washed myself
Mè a sò (Io) sono I am
Mè a j'ò (Io) ho I have

Verbs that are impersonal (lacking a canonical subject) in Romagnol use "avèr," in contrast with Italian which uses "essere." Even though the subject is null, an expletive pronoun inserts itself in the specifier position, much like English's "it".

  • Italian: è piovuto, It rained
  • Romagnol: l'à piuvù, It rained

Additionally, whereas Standard Italian and other Northern dialects omit the definite article before “singular names and names of relatives,” Romagnol does not do so.[12]


Romagnol has lexical and syntactic uniformity throughout its area. However, its pronunciation changes as one goes from the Po Valley to the hills.[citation needed]

Syllable structure[edit]

Some words that in Latin were trisyllabic or tetrasyllabic (where u is not stressed) are reduced in Romagnol to monosyllables. The atonic syllable(s) is/are cut off.[citation needed]

Latin Romagnol Italian English Emilian
geniculum znöcc ginocchio knee znocc
tepidus tèvvd tiepido tepid tevad
oculus öcc occhio eye occ
frigidus frèdd freddo cold fredd


Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e [ɐ~ə] o
ɛ ɔ
Low a

An unstressed /a/ sound can range from [ɐ~ə]. Vowel sounds /a e o/ can be nasalized as follows [ã ẽ õ].[13]

Symbol Value
ê [ɛə̯]
ô [ɔə̯]
ë [ɛɐ̯]
ö [ɔɐ̯]

Romagnol has an inventory of up to 20 contrastive vowels in stressed position, in comparison to Italian's 7.

These are marked in orthography using diacritics on a, i, o, u, and e.[14][15]

The absence of an official institution regulating its orthography leads in many cases to ambiguities in the transcription of vowel sounds.

The following table has the nasal vowels, oral vowels and diphthongs in the northern (around Lugo) variety of Romagnol:[14]

IPA symbol Orthography Example in Romagnol IPA pronunciation English meaning
ɛɐ̯~ɛː ë bël [ˈbɛɐ̯l] "nice" (masculine singular)
ɛ~ɛ̝ è, e bèll [ˈbɛ̝lː] "nice" (masculine plural)
eə̯ ê [ˈfeə̯] "to do"
eɪ̯ é méla [ˈmeɪ̯lə] "apple"
ɔɐ̯~ɔː ö cöl [ˈkɔɐ̯l] "neck"
oə̯ ô rôda [ˈroə̯d̪ɐ] "wheel"
ɔ~~o ò, o òng [ˈo̞ɲd͡ʒ] "eleven"
~oʊ̯ ó sól [ˈʂoʊ̯l] "sun"
æ̃ɪ̯̃~ɛ̃ɪ̯̃~ɛ̃ː ẽ, èn bẽ [ˈbæ̃ɪ̯̃] "fine" (adverb)
ɤ̃ː ã, â, an [ˈkɤ̃ː] "dog"
ɔ̃ʊ̃~õʊ̃ õ, on [ˈbɔ̃ʊ̃] "good"
äː à, a fàza [ˈfäːθɐ] "face"
ɐ~ə a mnëstra [ˈmnɛɐ̯ʂt̪r̪ɐ] "pasta"
~ʊ ù, u dùr [ˈd̪uːr] "hard" (masculine singular)
~ɪ ì, i fnì [ˈfniː] "ended"
i i zinquãnta [θiŋˈkvɤ̃ːn̪t̪ə] "fifty"
ĩː ĩ, ìn, in [ˈpĩː] "full"


Labial Inter-
Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ (ŋ)
Stop p b t d k ɡ
Affricate t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Fricative f v (θ ð) s z
Lateral l ʎ
Trill r
Approximant j w

Dental fricatives [θ] and [ð] only alternate with affricates [t͡s] and [d͡z] depending on the area of dialect.

[ŋ] only occurs before velar stops.

Romagnol, in addition to its larger inventory of vowels, also may have more consonants compared to standard Italian. Additionally, consonants bear the following differences compared to Standard Italian:[5][13]

  • In central dialects, word-final n is deleted and the preceding vowel is nasalized, as shown above.
  • Consonants are doubled in length after a closed vowel.
  • /dʒ/ and /tʃ/ (often non-sibilants [dð̠] and [tθ̠]) can occur word-finally, and are usually distinguished by the lack or presence of an h in orthography.
  • In subdialects that have the dental fricatives /θ/ and /ð/, voicing is contrastive.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ La lingua italiana, i dialetti e le lingue straniere Anno 2006
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Romagnol". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Larner, J. (1965).The Lords of Romagna: Romagnol Society and the Origins of the Signorie. Ithaca: New York.
  5. ^ a b Grementieri, S. (2012, January 7). The Romagnolo Dialect: A Short Study On its History, Grammar, and How it Survives [Scholarly project]. In Retrieved March 4, 2017, from
  6. ^ Cenni, I. (2013). Code-switching as an indicator of language shift: a case study of the Romagnolo dialect of Gatteo a Mare, Italy. 46th International Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Abstracts. Presented at the 46th International Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea.
  7. ^ a b Gregor, D. B. (1972). Romagnol Language and Literature. Stoughton Harrow: Oleander Press.
  8. ^ Alighieri, D. (1996). Dante: De vulgari eloquentia (S. Botterill, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  9. ^ a b c d e Haller, H. W. (1999). The Other Italy: The Literary Canon in Dialect (Toronto Italian Studies). University of Toronto Press.
  10. ^ Citroni, M. C. (1997). Leggende e racconti dell'Emiglia Romagna (3rd ed.).
  11. ^ Pelliciardi, F. (1997).Grammatica del dialetto romagnolo: la lengva dla mi tera. Ravenna: Longo Editore.
  12. ^ Ledgeway, A., & Maiden, M. (Eds.). (2016).The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages(1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  13. ^ a b Pelliciardi, Ferdinando (1977). Grammatica del dialetto romagnolo: la lèngva dla mi tëra. Ravenna: Longo.
  14. ^ a b Vitali, D. (2008). L'ortografia romangnola [Scholarly project]. In Retrieved March 5, 2017, from
  15. ^ Vitali, Daniele; Pioggia, Davide (2010). Il dialetto di Rimini: Analisi fonologica e proposta ortografica.