Sardinian Language: What is it?

It is common knowledge that in Italy the Italians speak in Italian, but did you know in each region they do have their own, distinctive way of communicating with each other?

For instance, in Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy, being geographically isolated from the land, has developed its own language within the local community.

While the official and main language in Sardinia remains to be Italian, Sardinians also have their own unique language.

What language do the Sardinians speak?

What language do the Sardinians speak?

Sardinian language, also known as Sardinian limba sarda, Sardu (in Italian lingua sarda, Sardo, respectively), is a Romance language that is the most similar to non-classical Latin. In other words, Sardinian language is the ancestor of all the Romance languages nowadays, including Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian. 

Currently, there are about 1.35 million native speakers, and Sardinian language is spoken by approximately 1.5 million inhabitants. 

Non-classical Latin, also known as Vulgar Latin, is believed to be introduced to the island in 238 BC, when Rome wrested Sardinia from Carthage after the first Punic War. The closeness of Sardinian to non-classical Latin is evident in its array of archaic linguistic features.

 Is Sardinian a language or a dialect?

Is Sardinian a language or a dialect?

Incredibly, Sardinian, as much as being considered as a dialect like any other dialects in other regions in Italy, is actually a language itself. 

Here is a brief introduction of the history of Sardinian language.

Confirmed in 1997 regionally and 1999 nationally by laws, of which were introduced in order to safeguard linguistic minorities, Sardnian is then recognized as an official language.

Split into 4 variations based on geographical dispersion, Sardinian can be detailed as: 

  • Campidanese (spoken in the old province of Cagliari); 
  • Logudorese  (widespread in the old provinces of Nuoro);
  • Sassarese (spoken in the  area from Sassari to Stintino); 
  • Gallurese (in the Olbia – Tempio area)

The first two have a structure and syntax which is practically unvaried with respect to their Latin roots. Whereas Sassarese and Gallurese have been greatly influenced by the domination of Pisa and Genoa as well as by the migrations of people from Corsica.

Sardinian is a rich language comprising the original Nuragic element with Phoenician, Latin, Greek -Byzanthine, Pisan, Genoese, Arab, Spanish, Catalan and Italian… indeed, quite a mix!

Languages in Sardinia vs Corsica?

Despite the geographical proximity, the two languages are in fact also very similar. Corsican language can be associated with the non-classical Latin languages of central Italy, while Sardinian is a non-classical Latin language on its own.

Is Catalan an official language in Sardinia?

It’s recognized as an official language under the category of “historical minorities”, the dialect of Catalan is still widely spoken by the residents in the northwest part of the island, Alghero. It remains from when Catalan colonists populated the town after Aragon took it from the Genoese.

Note that the Algherese variant is Eastern Catalan, and it has many differences from Central Catalan, the one that is spoken in Barcelona now.

Ajò! Time for some handy Sardinian phrases!

After a little introduction on Sardinian language, now let’s dive in and learn some phrases for your next trip to Sardinia. 

Saying hello:

  • Coment' istas? – How are you?
  • Ite paret? (pronounced: "ite pàrede") – What's up?

Saying goodbye:

  • Adiosu – Goodbye, similar to Spanish "adiós"
  • A menzus bìere – See you later or Take care, mostly used in the central-northern part of the island
  • Zi vidimmu – See you in Sassarese. In Sardinian it would be nos bidimus in the north, nos(i) bideus in the centre and south

Ajò! Time for some handy Sardinian phrases!

Some slangs every Sardinian knows:

  • Eja – Yes 
  • Ajò – Come on or Let’'s go
  • Un bè togo – Cool

Next time when you visit Sardinia, use some of the phrases in your daily routine and make friends with the locals, maybe you will find out more of the ancient Sardinian secrets with these tips. 

Sardinian language today allows Sardinians to communicate spirituality. It is a language of a fascinating lineage, all the way through history reuniting with the centuries of their Nuraghi ancestors.

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