Genoese dialect


Genoese, locally called or , is the main Ligurian dialect, spoken in and around the Italian city of
Genoa Genoa ( ; it, Genova ; locally ; lij, Zêna ; English, historically, and la, Genua) is the capital of the Regions of Italy, Italian region of Liguria and the List of cities in Italy, sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived ...

, the capital of
Liguria it, Ligure , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = , demographics1_title2 ...

, in Northern
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

. A majority of remaining speakers of Genoese are elderly. Several associations are dedicated to keeping the dialect alive, examples of which are in
Genoa Genoa ( ; it, Genova ; locally ; lij, Zêna ; English, historically, and la, Genua) is the capital of the Regions of Italy, Italian region of Liguria and the List of cities in Italy, sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived ...

and in
Chiavari Chiavari (; lij, Ciävai ) is a comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential public se ...
. Written literature has been produced in Genoese since the 13th century, and the orthography has evolved in-step with the language. There are currently two spelling systems in common use, with varying degrees of standardisation. One, proposed in 2008 by the cultural association ''A Compagna'', attempts to closely match in writing the pronunciation of the now-extinct variant of Genoese which used to be spoken in the ''Portoria'' neighbourhood of
Genoa Genoa ( ; it, Genova ; locally ; lij, Zêna ; English, historically, and la, Genua) is the capital of the Regions of Italy, Italian region of Liguria and the List of cities in Italy, sixth-largest city in Italy. In 2015, 594,733 people lived ...

. Another spelling system was proposed by a group of writers, journalists and academics by standardising the traditional orthography of 19th and 20th century Genoese newspapers. This is the spelling used, amongst others, by the academic world as well as by
Il Secolo XIX ''Il Secolo XIX'' ( ) is an Italian newspaper published in Genoa, Italy, founded in March 1886, subsequently acquired by Ferdinando Maria Perrone in 1897 from Gio. Ansaldo & C., Ansaldo. It is one of the first Italian newspapers to be printed in ...

Il Secolo XIX
, the largest print newspaper in the region. Genoese has had an influence on the
Llanito ''Llanito'' or ''Yanito'' () is a form of Andalusian Spanish The Andalusian dialects of Spanish (Spanish: ''andaluz'' ; Andalusian: ) are spoken in Andalusia Andalusia (, ; es, Andalucía ) is the southernmost Autonomous communities o ...
vernacular of
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "God Save the Queen" , song = "Gibraltar Anthem" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = ...



phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lan ...

includes a number of similarities with
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of co ...

, one being the heavily nasalized vowels before nasal consonants (in VN(C) sequences), also occurring when Genoese speakers speak
standard Italian Italian (''italiano'' or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries. They are a subgroup of ...

standard Italian
. There used to be an
alveolar approximant The voiced alveolar approximant is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the alveolar consonant, alveolar and postalveolar consonant, postalveolar approximant ...

alveolar approximant
(English-like) opposed to an
alveolar trill The voiced alveolar trill is a type of consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how ...
(using the 18th century spelling: "dear" vs. "cart"), but it is no longer heard in the city. It may still survive in some rural areas of Liguria, such as Calizzano and Sassello. By far the most widespread type of today is the Voiced dental and alveolar taps and flaps, alveolar tap (very similar, or identical, to unstressed Standard Italian ). There are several distinctive local Accent (dialect), accents of Genoese: those of Nervi, Quinto al Mare, Quinto and Quarto dei Mille, Quarto to the east of Genoa, Voltri, Prà, Pegli and Sestri Ponente, Sestri to the west. There are also accents of the central Polcevera Valley and Bisagno (stream), Bisagno. Genoese has eight vowels, twenty consonants, and three semivowels. ;Vowels * as in ''barba'' ("uncle"; "beard") * as in ''tésta'' ("head") * as in ''ægoa'' ("water") * as in ''bibin'' ("turkey") * as in ''cöse'' ("what?") * as in ''anchêu'' ("today") * as in ''comme'' ("how?") * as in ''fugassa'' (focaccia, a kind of Italian bread)


* ^ is a circumflex accent placed above a vowel and doubles its length. * ao is read as the Italian “au” or the genovese “ou” or a long Italian “o”. * è is read as a brief open e. The symbol ''æ'', made up of vowels ''a'' ed ''e'', is read as an open long "e"; in groups ''ænn-a'' and ''æn'' it is read as an open short “e”. * e and é are read as a closed short “e”; ê is read as a long closed “e”. * eu is read as if it were read in French: in ''eu'' and ''éu'' the sound is short in êu the sound is long. * j is used infrequently and indicates that ''i'' should be heard in words such as: ''gjêmo'' (giriamo), ''mangjâ'' (mangerà), ''cacjæ'' (getterei), ''lascjâ'' (lascerà), ''socjêtæ'' (società). * o, ó and ô are read as an Italian ''u'' like in the word ''muso''; the length of ô is double the length of o and ó. * ò and ö are read as ''o'' in Italian like in the word ''cosa''; the length of ''ö'' is double ''ò''. * u is read as a French ''u'' with the exception in groups qu, òu and ou where the ''u'' is read as the ''u'' in the Italian word ''guida''. * ç always has a voiceless sound () like ''s'' in the Italian word ''sacco''. * Word-final n and groups ''nn-'' , ''n-'' (written with a hyphen) indicate a velar n (, such as the ''n'' in the Italian word ''vengo'') and are therefore pronounced nasally. The same goes for when ''n'' precedes a consonant (including ''b'' and ''p''). * s followed by a vowel, ''s'' followed by a voiceless consonant, and ''s'' between vowels is always a voiceless , sound like the ''s'' in the Italian word sacco. ''s'' followed by a voiced consonant becomes voiced , as in Italian. * scc is pronounced , like ''sc'' of the Italian word ''scena'' followed sonorously by ''c'' of the Italian word ''cilindro''. * x is read like the French ''j'' (e.g. ''jambon, jeton, joli''). * z, even when it is doubled as ''zz'', is always pronounced as the ''s'' in the Italian word ''rosa''.

Tongue twisters

* = I don't have a clue whether the salt is going to be enough to salt the sausage. * = Ski, madam, skying you fly on skis. * = At the new pier there are nine new ships; the newest of the nine new ships doesn't want to go. * = Do angels have eyes, ears, and (finger)nails like everyone else? (variant of the Cogorno ''comune'')


* = "I'm Genoese, I seldom laugh, I grind my teeth, and I say what I mean" (literally, "speak clearly"). * The child complains: = I'm hungry. The mother answers: = Scratch your knees and make lasagna. * = "If you want to live as a good Christian, stay away from those who pretend to be devout" (a traditional warning to beware of fanatics and hypocrites). * = You can't have or do two contradicting things at the same time (literally, "you can't inhale and exhale"). * = Wow! or Damn! (very informal) (literally the word means "penis", but it lost its obscene meaning and is currently used as an intensifier in a lot of different expressions, acting almost as an equivalent of the English "Fuck, Fuck!" or "Fuck it!").


One of the most famous folk songs written in the Genoese dialect is called (or ) written by Mario Cappello. Towards the end of the 20th century, artist Fabrizio De André wrote an entire album called in the Genoese dialect.


External links

Genoese phonology

* * Audio samples of many Italian dialects. * Official website of the Academia Ligustica do Brenno. *
A Compagna - Bilingual website in Spanish and Genoese, with resources to learn Genoese, Ligurian literature with Spanish version, texts, photos, etc.
{{DEFAULTSORT:Genoese Dialect Ligurian language (Romance) Culture in Genoa, Dialect it:Dialetto genovese