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Information about the Sicilian Language and its dialects.

This page has been designed as an online resource for learning the Sicilian Language, its Dialects and the Dialects of Calabria (calabbrisi centru-miridiunali), Lu Salentu and Lu Cilentu.

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.

Many people, even Sicilians and those of Sicilian descent, have the same misconception held by Italians and non-Italians everywhere: that "Sicilian" is simply a different, "cruder" form of the Italian language. Nothing could be further from the truth. While today's Italians and sadly, today's Sicilians, are told "by those that know" that Sicilian is the language of the poor or ignorant, the Sicilian LANGUAGE was the first "Romance" language to develop from Latin, the early language of state. As such, it includes not only words derived from Latin roots (as did the Italian dialect "Tuscan" which became the official Italian language), but it has rich inclusions from the tongues of the many occupiers of Sicily, including Carthaginian, Greek, Arabic, French and Spanish.

In Sicily the majority of Sicilians are bilingual in Sicilian and Italian.

Sicilian Ethnologue Data Sheet File:Sicilian Ethnologue.pdf


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