Western Lombard dialect
|Milanes/Milanées, Insubrigh/Insübrich, lumbard ucidental|
|Native to||Italy, Switzerland|
Lombardy (Province of Milan, Province of Monza, Province of Como, Province of Lecco, Province of Lodi, Province of Sondrio, Province of Varese, part of the Province of Pavia, a small part of the Province of Cremona)
Piedmont (Province of Novara, Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, a small part of the Province of Alessandria and the Province of Vercelli)
Some valleys of Canton Grigioni
Western Lombard is one of the main varieties of Lombard, a Romance language spoken in Italy. It is widespread in the Lombard provinces of Milan, Monza, Varese, Como, Lecco, Sondrio, a small part of Cremona (except Crema and its neighbours), Lodi and Pavia, and the Piedmont provinces of Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, the eastern part of the Province of Alessandria (Tortona), a small part of Vercelli (Valsesia), and Switzerland (the Canton of Ticino and part of the Canton of Graubünden). After the name of the region involved, land of the former Duchy of Milan, this language is often referred to as Insubric (see Insubria and Insubres) or Milanese, or, after Clemente Merlo, Cisabduano (literally "of this side of Adda River").
Western Lombard and Italian
In Italian-speaking contexts, Western Lombard is often incorrectly called a dialect of Italian. Western Lombard and Standard Italian are very different. Some speakers of Lombard varieties may have difficulty understanding each other and require a standard to communicate, but all Western Lombard varieties are mutually intelligible. Western Lombard is relatively homogeneous (much more so than Eastern Lombard language), though it does present a number of variations, mainly in relation to the vowels /o/, /ɔ/ and the development of /ts/ into /s/.
The general lines of diachronics of Western Lombard plural declension are drawn here, with reference to Milanese orthography:
The bulk of feminine words ends with the inflection -a; the feminine plural is non-inflected (la legora / i legor ; la cadrega / i cadregh). The final vowel finds its original length (in non-final syllable you can't hear the difference) that's often long when followed by a voiced consonant, short when followed by a voiceless consonant. When the stem ends with a particular group of consonants there can be the addition of a final -i or of a schwa between consonants (for example: in Milanese sing. scendra, plur. scendr > scender). For adjectives, the plural form and masculine form are often the same.
The bulk of masculine nouns end without inflections and plural masculine is always non-inflected (el tramvaj/i tramvaj ; el lett/i lett ). When the word stem terminates with a particular group of consonants there can be, in both singular and plural forms, the addition of a schwa between consonants. When the addition of schwa appears unnatural, a final -o (pron. /u/) is added to singular nouns, -i for plurals.
The masculine words ending in -in, or, less commonly, in -ett, have plural itt (fiolin/fiolitt). The masculine words ending in -ll have plura -j derived from dropping of -ll- and the addition of -i (el sidell/i sidej ; el porscell/i porscej ; el cavall / i cavaj). The same occurs in the determinate article: singular ell > el, plural elli > ej > i.
Masculine words ending in -a are unvarying. These are proper names, words from ancient Greek or idiomatic words such as pirla, a derogatory term for a person.
Western Lombard can be divided into four main varieties, referred by many Italian linguists as lombardo alpino (spoken in the provinces of Sondrio and of Verbania, Sopraceneri of Canton Ticino and Grigioni in Switzerland), lombardo-prealpino occidentale (spoken in the provinces of Como, Varese and Lecco, Lugano and its neighbors in Canton Ticino), basso-lombardo occidentale (Pavia and Lodi), and macromilanese (provinces of Milan, Monza, Novara and Valsesia of Vercelli). The boundaries are obviously schematic, since the political division in provinces and municipalities are usually independent from languages spoken.
Examples of Western Lombard language are:
- Milanese or Meneghin (macromilanese)
- Bustocco and Legnanese
- Brianzöö (lombardo-prealpino occidentale - macromilanese)
- Comasco-Lecchese (lombardo-prealpino occidentale)
- Ticinese (lombardo alpino)
- Varesino or Bosin (lombardo-prealpino occidentale)
- Alpine Lombard (lombardo alpino, strong influence from Eastern Lombard language)
- Southwestern Lombard (basso-lombardo occidentale)
The most important orthography in Western Lombard literature is the Classical Milanese orthography. It was used by Carlo Porta (1775–1821) and Delio Tessa (1886–1939). It was perfected by the Circolo Filologico di Milano. Other orthographies are the Ticinese, the Comasca, the Bosina, the Nuaresat, and the Lecchese.
- Although the upper bound to the number of speakers is around 2,500,000, this figure represents more closely the number of people who can understand Western Lombard. Because of immigration (mostly to Milan) from other parts of Italy, the use of Western Lombard is very rare in western Lombardy and most people are not able to speak it fluently.
- Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Western Lombard". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
- Ethnologue report for Lombard
- Gian Battista Pellegrini, Carta dei dialetti d'Italia, Pacini, Pisa, 1977.
- Andrea Rognoni, Grammatica dei dialetti della Lombardia, Oscar Mondadori, 2005.
- AA. VV., Parlate e dialetti della Lombardia. Lessico comparato, Mondadori, Milano 2003.