Sicilian (lu sicilianu)
Sicilian is a Romance language with about 5 million speakers in Sicily and
in parts of Calabria and Puglia in southern Italy. There are also many Sicilians
and people of Sicilian origin in the USA, Canada, Australia, Argentina and
Germany. In Sicily the majority of Sicilians are bilingual in Sicilian and
Sicilian is a descendant of Latin brought to Sicily by the Romans after they annexed
the island in about 261 BC. Over the years Sicilian has absorbed vocabulary from many
different languages, including Greek, Latin, Arabic, French, Lombard, Provençal,
German, Catalan, Spanish, Italian, and also from the languages of the pre-Roman inhabitants
of the island: the Sicani, Elymi, Siculi and Phoenicians.
Sicilian was first used in writing during the reign of Frederick II (a.k.a. Frederick I
of Sicily) between 1198 and 1250. Since then it has only been used in writing
from time to time, and no standard spelling system has developed. Some poetry
is written in Sicilian, but not many Sicilian speakers are able to read it as
very few are literate in their mother tongue.
Today Sicilian, which has no official status, is used mainly in informal
situations between family and friends. Moves have been made to introduce
the teaching of Sicilian in schools, though with limited success.
The letters X, K and Y are also used in some dialects of Sicilian.
- Double consonants are generally pronounced long or doubled, e.g. bb = [bb/b˸]
- J is also written Y or I, and Q is also written C or K
Sample text in Sicilian
Tutti l'omini nascinu libbiri cu a stissa dignità i diritti.
Iddi hannu a raggiuni i cuscienza i hannu a travagghiari 'nzemmula cu
spiritu di fratirnità.
A recording of this text by Victor Palermo
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about Sicilian |
Tower of Babel in Sicilian |
Sicilian learning materials
Information about the Sicilian language
Arba Sicula - an organization that promotes the language and culture of Sicily
Other languages written with the Latin alphabet