Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

What is the difference between Sicilian and Italian?

Naples speaks it own dialect, and yet I don't recall that being a language?

9 Answers

  • andrew
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    I apologize in advance for the length of my response, but I feel very strongly about this, and I wish to share what I know with others on this issue that is often oversimplified.


    Sicilian is a completely separate language with its own complex history and schools of literature. It is not a dialect of Italian, which is the language based on the dialect of Tuscany.

    Sicilian is a Romance language with influences from Greek, Arabic, Norman French (like English does), Spanish, and recently Italian. Italian has been confirmed as a separate language by the Ethnologue (the organization which classifies languages); it has its own ISO language code: scn.

    Likewise, the Neapolitan language is not related to the Tuscan Italian of today, so it cannot be considered a dialect of Italian.

    The further north you go in Italy, the less likely someone will be able to understand Sicilian.

    The question is "What is the difference between a dialect and a language?" Linguistically, there is no difference between a dialect and a language. It's mostly a political difference. A famous linguist once said "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy."


    Sicilian differs from Italian in many ways: phonetically, lexically (vocab), grammatically, etc.


    -Italian has 7 vowels:

    ---a /a/ (like the "a" in "father"),

    ---è /ɛ/ (open, like the "e" in "bet"),

    ---é /e/ (closed, like the "a" in "pay"),

    ---i /i/ (like the "i" in "machine"),

    ---ò /ɔ/ (open, like the "o" in "cost"),

    ---ó /o/ (closed, like the "o" in "coast"), and

    ---u /u/ (like the "oo" in "cool")

    -Sicilian only has 5 of those vowels: a, è, i, ò, u

    -The R sound also tends to differ greatly (even between dialects of Sicilian). In my family's dialect (from the province of Trapani), an R at the beginning of the word or a double RR elsewhere are pronounced like the "s" in the English word "pleasure", /ʒ/. In other places (i.e. between vowels), the R is pronounced as a single tap /ɾ/ against the roof of the mouth.

    -The sound combination -dr- and -tr- tend to change in Sicilian, almost like in English when the word "drink" is pronounced "jrink" and the word "tree" is pronounced "chree".

    -The combination -str- is also different than one would expect. The S makes a "sh" sound while the T becomes a faint whistle.



    As Sicilian and Italian evolved, certain sounds from (Vulgar) Latin changed:

    -The -LL- in Italian corresponds to the -DD- in Sicilian, which is not like the dental D of Italian /d̪, but rather a retroflex D /ɖ/ (imagine how someone with an Indian accent says their D's).

    ---Italian agnello, Sicilian agneddu

    -In Italian many singular masculine nouns end in an -o, which is namely the "closed O", which does not exist in Sicilian. Therefore, Sicilian masculine nouns tend to end in -u.

    -Words from Latin that began with -FL- became -FI- in Italian, but in Sicilian they became -CI- (also sometimes written -SCI-). This sound, /ç/, **sounds** similar to the "sh" sound (which in Italian is written -sci-, hence the alternative spelling) but it's actually the sound that some English speakers make when saying the "hu" in "human".

    Some words that come to mind that are starkly different:

    EN -- SCN -- ITA

    to look -- taliàri -- guardare

    snail -- babbaluciu -- lumaca

    to buy -- accattàri -- comprare

    to wake -- arrusbigghiari -- svegliare



    --Sicilian uses the Preterite (simple past in English) in everyday speech; Italian reserves this tense for historical works only.

    --Sicilian compound tenses use only one verb (aviri), whereas Italian uses 2 (avere & essere).

    --There is no future tense in Sicilian. Instead a structure similar to the English "to be going to" is used with "aviri a", which is also used to mean "to have to"

    Here's an example of the difference between certain verbs:

    "to be"; Sicilian èssiri, Italian essere

    SCN: sugnu, sì, è, sèmu, sìti, sunnu

    ITA: sono, sei, è, siamo, siete, sono

    "to have"; Sicilian aviri; Italian avere

    SCN: àiu, ài, àvi, avemu, aviti, ànnu

    ITA: ho, hai, ha, abbiamo, avete, hanno


    @ requiem: The Maltese language is a mixture of Italian and Arabic. Sicilian has Arabic influences, but it hasn't adopted enough to be considered a "mixture".


    @ everyone who's saying that Sicilian is merely a dialect of Italian: You need to check your history sources: La Scuola Sicilian under Frederick II was producing poetry in Sicilian by the year 1230 -- 35 years before Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language, was born. So how can Sicilian possibly be a dialect OF Italian when the Divina Commedia, which would become the model of the Italian language, was written around 1310? Sicilian ≠ Italian.

    People, especially Italians, tend to mix up:

    1) Dialect of Italian (dialetto dell'italiano): a dialect that evolved from the Italian language which originated from the Tuscan varieties, which Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Francesco Petrarca used.

    2) Dialect of Italy (dialetto d'Italia): a regional language that is not historically related to the Italian language of today, but which does not have official status to be declared an "official language" anywhere, thereby preventing it from being considered a language in many peoples' eyes.

    Source(s): You can read up all about the Sicilian language here:
  • 3 years ago

    Sicilian Dialect

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    What is the difference between Sicilian and Italian?

    Naples speaks it own dialect, and yet I don't recall that being a language?

    Source(s): difference sicilian italian:
  • 1 decade ago

    I'm Sicilian.

    In my dialect there are a lot of words which derive from French and Spanish. And not only from them. In Sicilian and Italian there are words that are totally different.

    You have to know that Italian is not a sintetic language. When I say "sintetic" I mean the possibility to explain a very large concept in only one word. English language is sintetic, and Sicilian language is sintetic.

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  • 1 decade ago

    No, sicilian cannot be considered a different language, but a dialect.

    It uses the same structure and rules of Italian. Having different words or pronunciation does not make it a language, sorry Andrew.

  • 1 decade ago

    whatever you decide on this topic remember that JUST AS EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE FIELD OF LINGUISTICS A LOT OF POLITICS COME INTO PLACE. some poeple will claim linguistic and hence cultural independence while some other will call for linguistic and cultural unity or interdependance.

    dialects and parallel languages exist in every country. where we draw the line between dialect and independent language it's still a matter of discussion and possibly something we'll never agree on.

    to give you an example, poeple in scotland will claim that scots is (and it is) a separate language from Engliash, yet, within Scots there are variants. somepoeple will claim that those variants are just dialects some other that they are languages in their own right.

    Source(s): me, 'cuz a study thiz stuff... and i also happen to be half italian and half.. sicilian?? :)
  • 1 decade ago

    Sicilian is italian, but is a dialect. In Italy, we have a lot of dialects and they have differences to each other.

    I am from Roma, and I don't know very well the Sicilian dialect, but Sicilian is not a language. It's just a dialect of the italian language.


    Source(s): sono italiano, di Roma.
  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    If you are more interested in finding out to speak Spanish than go through or write it (they do educate reading and writing but speaking is far a lot more heavily emphasized)

  • 1 decade ago

    Sicilian is like a mixture of italian and arab.

    italian is just italian.

    If you know some italian it might even give you a hard time to know some words since not even the numbers are the same.

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