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 Italian.

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.

Sicilian alphabet (l'alfabetu Sicilianu)

A a B b C c D d E e F f G g H h
a bi ci di e effi gi acca
I i J j L l M m N n O o P p Q q
i jota elli emmi enni o pi qu
R r S s T t U u V v Z z
erri essi ti u vu zeta

The letters X, K and Y are also used in some dialects of Sicilian.

Sicilian pronunciation

Sicilian pronunciation


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

Tutti l'òmini nàsciunu lìbbiri e i stissi pi dignità e ntê diritta. Iddi sunnu addutati di raggiuni e di cuscenzia e hannu a travagghiari nzèmmula cu spìritu di fratirnità.

Translation by Fabio


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)

Sample videos in Sicilian

Information about Sicilian | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel | Books about Sicilian on: and [affilate links]


Information about the Sicilian language

Sicilian dictionary

Sicilian phrases

Sicilian proverbs

Arba Sicula - an organization that promotes the language and culture of Sicily

Romance languages

Aragonese, Aranese, Aromanian, Asturian, Catalan, Corsican, Dalmatian, Emilian-Romagnol, Extremaduran, Fala, Franco-Provençal, French, Friulian, Galician, Gallo, Gascon, Genoese, Guernésiais, Istro-Romanian, Istriot, Italian, Jèrriais, Ladino, Ladin, Ligurian, Lombard, Lorrain, Megleno-Romanian, Mirandese, Moldovan, Monégasque, Mozarabic, Neapolitan, Occitan, Occitan (Auvergnat), Occitan (Languedocien), Occitan (Limousin), Occitan (Provençal), Picard, Piedmontese, Portuguese, Romanian, Romansh, Sardinian, Sicilian, Spanish, Valencian, Venetian, Walloon

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page last modified: 23.04.21


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