Languages Spoken in Italy: Part III

By: Harriet Cook

This is the third and final post in our series on the range of different languages spoken in Italy. The first, where we look in detail at Cimbrian, Friulian and Piedmontese, can be found here and the second, where we discuss Lombard, Romagnol and Venetian, can be found here. In today's post we have decided to look closely at Mòcheno and Sicilian.


Mòcheno is a variety of Upper German spoken in three towns of Bernstol in Trentino which is an autonomous province in northeastern Italy. It is widely recognised as bearing lots of similarities to Bavarian and if you'd like to see a very detailed representation of its roots, you can do so here on Glottolog's website. Omniglot estimate the language has about 1,600 speakers and note that it has an official status in Trentino where it can be found used on street signs and taught in schools. In his book on literature and human rights, Ian Ward writes briefly about Mòcheno's status and explains that it is promoted by the Institution Bersntoler Kulturinstitut - Istituto Culturale Mocheno. This institute arranged for the production of a grammar by Anthony Rowley, a project which lasted from 1997 to 2003. You can read more about Mòcheno in Ward's book here. Finally, to see the language profile on Omniglot, click here and if you're interested in hearing what Mòcheno sounds like, click play on the video below:


Sicilian is a Romance language primarily spoken on the island of Sicily and its satellite islands. It is also spoken in parts of Calabria and Pulgia in southern Italy. It comprises many different dialects which are specific to the towns and villages in which its speakers live and it boasts one of the oldest literary traditions in Italy. According to Omniglot Sicilian has about 5 million speakers and has absorbed vocabulary from a range of different languages (including Greek, Latin, Arabic, French, Lombard, Provençal, German, Catalan, Spanish, Italian) as well as the languages spoken by the pre-Roman inhabitants of the island. Arba Sicula is a non-profit international organisation set up to promote the language and culture of Sicily. Amongst their many initiatives are the publication of a biannual biannual Sicilian/English journal that looks at the literature, art, history, cuisine and folklore of Sicily and the organisation of lectures and poetry recitals. You can read more about their work here.

If you'd like to hear Sicilian spoken, you can listen to Steven speaking the language by clicking play on the video below:

We have not been able to cover all of the 34 native languages spoken in Italy in this series of blog posts. However, you can find a list of them in our first post here and if there are any you would be interested in us featuring on our blog, please let us know.

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