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The origins and characteristics of the Sardinian language

In this page we describe the regions of Sardinia and the origins and characteristics of Sardinian language. The description refers to the different moments in the history of the island, and refer to the following pages for his insight.

The Sardinian language

The Sardinian language is born in time, and its training contribute the languages of different populations that arrive on the island. Before we talk about how he came to develop over time the sardo, a clarification should be made: Sardinian is not a dialect of Italian but is a language quite different.

This is attested by the presence of a different alphabet, unique vocabulary, a different grammar and syntax. All the peculiarities of its history, preserved over time due to the geographic isolation. But the show especially extensive research including I want remind one, of many years ago, during which eventuated as any foreigner who had studied and knew perfectly the English language, using the ten percent of the vocabulary used by a sibling in Italian culture. And occurred as a person born in Sardinia had limited vocabulary than any other foreigner.

Note that even Dante Alighieri, in his 'De vulgari eloquentia », written between 1303 and 1305, speaks of the Sardinian language and consider critically the Sardinians, holding them strictly not italic, because, in his opinion, it would speak the vernacular, imitating and parroting the Latin, as is demonstrated by the use of terms such as domus nova and dominus meus.

Linguistic map of Sardinia Later, when the Italian has ceased to be the native language to the generations born since the 60's, even its grammatical structures have undergone numerous changes to those of Italian. The language contact has produced a whole series of intermediate results between the two languages originating, typical of a situation of bilingualism with diglossia, i.e. the presence of two functionally distinct languages, one of which is used only in formal and informal second in scope. This is demonstrated by the fact that in Sardinia do not speak Italian correctly but the Sardinian Regional Italian, which differentiates both syntactic point of view, which under that phonetic and grammatical.

The linguistic strands

In the Sardinian language can be divided into two major strands of language, which correspond to anthropological differences among historians either end of Sardinia: Cabu and Sus, i.e. the head above, and Cabu and Josso, i.e. the head below. It is :

·  the Logudorese, which is spoken in the Center-North of the island, which constitutes the most characteristic and conservative, including talk of Logudoro.
A variant of the Logudorese is the Nuorese, which is spoken, as well as Nuoro, across the center of the island and Goceano, which is characterized by greater antiquity and purity than the logudorese, and for this reason is sometimes treated as an autonomous linguistic Variant.

·  the Campidanese, which is spoken in the South of the island. While the Nuorese and Logudorese languages are less than any other continental influences underwent, Campidanese, preserving the characteristic features of Sardinian, is closer to Italian dialects of South Central type.


From Logudorese, modified with Pisan and Genoese influences derive:

·  the Gallurese, which is spoken in the North East of the island,very similar to the dialects of Southern Corsica, and known by linguists as course-Gallura.

·  the Sassarese, which is spoken in the city of Sassari and its surroundings, which has suffered the influence of continental type toscano, but has grown into a similar substrate.

The Sassarese and Gallurese dialect of course belong linguistically to the Group of Italian dialects, and are not, strictly speaking, linguistically attributable to the Sardinian language, if not geographically and to various lexical influences.


Other spoken are present in some small local communities because of external origin of the population lives in them:

·  theAlghero It is spoken in Alghero, which can be seen as a dialect of Catalan language;

·  the Tabarchino, which is spoken in Carloforte and Calasetta, a typical Ligurian being spoken in Pegli fishermen kidnapped by Tunisian pirates and taken into slavery in Tabarka, a coastal village of Tunisia, delivered at the time of Charles emmanuel III and transferred in these places, where they founded the town called Carlisle in his honor;

·  theArborea derived from the veneto, which is spoken by the peasant population transferred to the island after the reclamation of the Fascist period.

·  theArromanisca, a term which, in Campidanese, is called theArbareska, i.e.  the Romanisku or Pavela Romaniska, which is the dialect of ramai Gipsy hawkers, who had settled in the area of Isili in Sarcidano. This dialect is still spoken by a few individuals and is in danger of extinction.


Like all languages even Sardinian has its dialects, which create substantial differences from one location to another, even within the same linguistic tradition.

The origin of the Sardinian language

The Sardinian language is affected by the influence of different populations that have come over time on the island. Nothing is known of the nuragic language, the first dating evidence of SHERDEN.

The Language of the Sherden, Sumerian, population presumably dates back to the period when the Sumerian tongue mingles with the Akkadian. For example, as we remember Leonardo Melis, the Sumerian Dun (master, namely those in power) becomes in Akkadian Danu (powerful) and Dan in Sardinia; the hoe in Sumerian, Akkadian is Mar Marru and Sardinia Marra. The language of the shardana remain the major tracks in Campidanese, especially in the spoken language of the Campidano and Marmilla – trexenta. In Campidanese are still used the terms mamai and babai to indicate his father or dad (same root), or nonnoi or mannai nannai indicating his grandfather, pippiu refers to the child, etc. Also numerous terms remain in place names: Muristene (pilgrim place) becomes Monastir, Samash (the Sun God) becomes Samassi, Ollasta Brana-Jara becomes Albagiara, Nur-Addà (light of God) becomes Nurallao, Bau Fathers (Grand crossing) becomes Baradili, Macu-Mere (city of God) becomes Macomer, Bona Catu (good hangout) becomes Bonarcado, Arbarea (swampy) becomes Arborea, Mar-Middha (mire) becomes Marmilla, Margangioni (pile of stones) becomes Morgongiori, Abas (water) becomes Ales, Babai sandan (Sardinian father) becomes Abbasanta, etc.

The Phoenician language  remain a few terms. It is commonly believed to be of Phoenician origin the famous stele of Nora, today exposed at the Archaeological Museum of Cagliari. After the Phoenicians arrived in Sardinia Carthaginians, which never managed to conquer it entirely. However settled at the top landing and the most important commercial ports, spreading their idiom that remained alive even in Roman times. It is believed that in Sardinia were also present some Greek colonies especially on the northeast coast, among them probably Olbia (Greek name meaning happy).

THEinfluence of Latin  raises the sardo, which still constitutes the main Romance language. At the beginning of the Roman occupation in the island he spoke three languages: Punic, Sardinian, Latin. The latter soon became widespread in coastal areas and in the cities, while the hinterland spread encountered considerable obstacles, since in those places they continued to speak Italian. However the Latin, being the official language of the Church, it was subsequently imposed, especially in Barbagia, after the conversion of the Chief of barbagia Ospitone.

The Sardinian language that came up to us, sa Limba, began to be spoken after the fall of the Roman empire. It belongs to the family of Romance languages, from Latin Romanesque Highlights loqui, or romance, family, which also includes Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese and Romanian. Its purest form is the Logudorese, notably the Logudorese di Nuoro, Nuoro. At the time of Julius Caesar, a Roman citizen, before leaving for a short trip, would very probably asked his wife to make a scrip sayingputs mihi tres panes in bertula », and exactly the same sentence is currently still used in the Sardinian language, asking for the same thing. And many Latin tracks are, still today, in common parlance. For example, for the word Cook Latin is used Coghere; the wind It is called Bentu, from Latin Uentum; the day It is called Die,  from Latin Dies; etc. Also tracks toponymy: Domus de MariaDomusnovasFordongianus by Forum traianus Island Malu Bentu i.e. bad wind. Because of its peculiar Sardinian is the subject of accurate language studies, which helped to make clearer the evolution from Latin to vulgaris.

Located in Sardinia, different words deriving from the period of Byzantine domination. During this period, the Church enjoyed strong authority that were devoted numerous temples to Greek Saints, like Saint Agata, San Saturno, Santa Barbara, St. Sergius, St. Bacchus and Saint George. The names of these Saints were then popular names in use in still, like Basil, Sofia and Greek, alongside other forms now disappeared or nearly so, as Torchitorio and Salusio, Comita, Zerchi, Nispella, etc. Byzantine influence is found in many churches across the island.

Of Arabic origin  is the name of Arbatax, which means the 14th and that was probably the 14th coastal Tower watchtower.

At the end of the middle ages, the arrival of pisani  and genovesi  brought in Sardinia the use of Italian, since many workers were from Tuscany to build churches, monasteries, castles and towers.

The Catalan domination  before and Spanish  then, over 350 years, had considerable influence on the Sardinian language. By decision of general courts, were translated into Catalan statutes of Iglesias, Bosa, and Sassari. The use of Catalan continued even after the unification of the crowns of Aragon and Castile, insomuch that they were republished in Catalan edicts of the viceroy. Spanish or Castilian, as the official language, supplanted the Catalan only at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and was used in public documents until 1780 and beyond. Many terms are derived from the Spanish language, as the name of the named ranges greenhouses, Spanish serra indicating the saw, to describe the serrated profile of the mountain. The term Castilian retablo, which displays a pictorial table placed behind the altar, a name which derives from the Latin retro tabula altaris. Or the term ventana refers to the window, ogu to indicate the eye, etc.

The eighteenth century marks the passage of Sardinia at Piedmontese domain  and for the first half of the century persists a bilingual situation.Sardinian coexists alongside the Spanish, while the Piedmontese nobility prefer to use French in their relationships. Respect for the Sardinian language continues also in the 800, but becomes more invasive spread of Italian.

With the unification of Italy after 1861, the lingua italiana  it becomes more and more official, while still living with the Sardinian who still remains widespread, both in the humble classes in those of the bourgeoisie.Since '900 Italian usage spreads, until, in Fascist period, the absolute prohibition of the use of Sardinian. Are thus eliminated local toponymy many Sardinian terms, coining new ones, in some cases giving rise to real distortions derived from superficial and erroneous TRANSLATION of Italian cartographers. The island Sin-Ara, indicating iltempio of God Sin, has been translated into Asinara; l'isola del Malu Bentu or bad wind, becomes an island of Mal di Ventre; l'isola del Kavuru crab, which becomes the island of Cabbage.

The spoken language and written language

In the spoken language is a common origin, whereas the written language there is no standard spelling, being present two different graphic traditions : on one side the Logudorese, Campidanese founded the "Grammar essay on southern Sardinian dialect » del Porru's 1811.

In Sardinia there are sounds not present in Latin and in the Romance languages. The consonant (d) has a cacuminale that a priest in Logudoro, Pedru Casu, transcribed as dh While in Campidano another priest, Canon Bissenti Porru, preferred to write dd. Another sound in the Sardinian language is similar to what the French makes the letter (j), as in jour (day). In Logudorese that sound is written with the letter (j) for example, in the word ruju (red), while in campidanese that sound is made by letter x for example, is present in the most important Nuragic complex called Su Nuraxi that reads like it was written in French On Nuraji, with the (j) French jour. The (j) It is in fact the letter makes that sound in southern Sardinia.

Finally, the main orthographic differences between the Northern Sardinian and southern Sardinian materialised in that dh or dd to the sound of cacuminale (d), and in that (j) i.e. x for sound similar to that of the French word jour.

The appreciation and recognition of the Sardinian language

Medieval documents in the Sardinian language  There are numerous. Among the most important and ancient we: Campidanesi Style Cards of the eleventh century; the Carta de Logu promulgated by Eleanor in the 14th century; (i) 'Contaghi », i.e. logs with the documents evidencing any legal transaction; and i Condaghi, representing the registries that collect documents that prove a legal transaction.

The clergyman John Spano, born in Ploaghe, you have two fundamental works:Sardinian and national spelling or grammar of the language Logudorese compared all'italiana » of 1840 and 'Vocabulary sardo-Italian and Italian-Sardinian » written between 1851 and 1852. The Sardinian language is, in fact, its splendor between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly for studies of Giovanni Spano.

More than a million and a half of Sardis, speak one of the languages that belong to his two linguistic strands, and, after the Italian, is the language most spoken in Italy. Is the 1978 proposed law of popular initiative  for the Sardinian introduction bilingualism; the 1992 'European Charter for regional or minority languages »; in 1997 the Sardinian regional law n.26 for 'Promotion and enhancement of the culture and language of Sardinia »; in 1999 the law of the Italian Republic No.482 which contains 'Rules relating to the protection of historical linguistic minorities » recognising the right to protection, among others, of the Sardinian language.

I am now more current than ever next to formalization of the Sardinian language  and their wider use by the institutions both private and public. Within the framework of initiatives for its formalization, the region has launched two projects, the first called L.S. U., i.e. Limba Sarda Unificada, and the second L.S. C., i.e. Limba Sarda Comuna in order to define and normalize transcription and grammar of a unified language, which includes the common features of variants logudorese, campidanese and Nuoro.

Limba Sarda Unificada The Limba Sarda Unificada is a written variant of the Sardinian language. Its rules were published in 2001, by the autonomous region of Sardinia, with the title 'Limba Sarda Unificada-sas Normas de Sìntesi de base: spelling, fonètica, morfolozia, lèssicu ». The Limba Sarda Unificada is the result of the work of a Commission of experts of the Sardinian language consulted by region, but is strongly based on Logudorese or better on the Nuorese, who has found a strong opposition in Campidano, because it believes does not contain the peculiarities of spoken of southern Sardinia.

Limba Sarda Comuna The Limba Sarda Comuna is another variety of Sardinian language, which constitutes an evolution in relation to Limba Sarda Unificada, which had been heavily criticized for its artificiality, as well as to the absence of references to the variety campidanese, exclusively based on logudorese variety. In fact, the Limba Sarda Comuna, albeit based on logudorese and nuorese, also holds elements of spoken of mediation used in the gray area of transition between the campidanese, logudorese and and therefore arises, lexically and phonetically, as an intermediate variety between the two varieties of Italian literature.

The Limba Sarda Comuna was adopted, even if only experimentally by the autonomous region of Sardinia with the regional resolution No.16/14 of April 18, 2006, under the title «Limba Sarda Comuna. Adopting rules experimental character reference for the outgoing written language of regional administration », as the official language for the acts and documents issued in character then output, with official, by the region of Sardinia, on the understanding that has legal value text only the English language. Faculty is given to citizens to write to the company in its linguistic diversity, and the door was set up called regional language Ufitziu de sa limba sarda.

The Limba Sarda Comuna It is natural for 92.8 per cent, is in middle position with respect to all dialects of Sardinian, and can still be improved, to become the official language of all the Sardinians. 

The next few pages

On the next page we will describe the oenological and gastronomic tradition in Sardinia. We will mention the main Sardinian cuisine and to the main Sardinian wines.

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