A short analysis - First part

How Piedmontese tongue was born

indice casa

Notice to be read (in case you didn't)


As in the notice (to be read) and how it is stated in all these pages, the author of these notes is not a literate, and is not a researcher on this field. (Indeed he is a retired researcher, but in telecommunications, and he is graduated in physics and not in literature). As usual, then, the reader have to consider these facts.
This was necessary. Then we can see the Piedmontese. We distinguish two areas, the first being the lexicon, and the second the structure (morphology, i.e. grammar and syntax). We will compare Piedmontese with Italian and French, starting from Latin since these all are neo-Latin languages.
When we speak of Piedmontese tongue, we refer to the tongue that appeared around half of '600 in western Piedmont with its own morphology (quite different from italian, french and provençal morphology, as we will see). The lexicon (the words) of piedmontese was enriched by words coming from all the region. Later, in centuries, the piedmontese evolved, as all the languages did, maintaining its own characteristics. In this section we will quickly examine these characteristics.
Neo-Latin (nL) languages have been subdivided (by experts, of course), according their characteristics, in western and eastern languages. We will see that Piedmontese is a western nL language, while Italian is a eastern nL language.
Please note that speaking of Latin words, in case of nouns and adjectives, we refer to the Latin accusative case, as the most significant.
We will use Phonetical Symbols whenever they will seem necessary.

Piedmontese lexicon
At a first glance, we notice that Piedmontese has words shorter (as an average), than Italian. Another character of Piedmontese words (always as an average) tend to suppress some of the non-tonich vowels, and this brings to words with consonantic groups that are not usual in Italian and in French. This is particularly true if we consider the piedmontese letter ë (mute e) that has a extremely short sound, similar to the french mute e. This vowel does not exist in Italian.

Shorter words:
latin: pediculus (the louse) --> italian: pidocchio --> french: pou --> piedmontese: poj.
latin: feniculus (the fennel) --> italian: finocchio --> french: fenouil --> piedmontese: fnoj.
latin: pedem --> italian: piede --> french --> pied -->piedmontese:
This is true also for words that, in Piedmontese, have different (not Latin) derivation, and words having different derivation also in Italian:
latin: parvulus (little) --> italian: piccolo --> french: petit --> piedmontese: cit.
italian: cavolo (cabbage) --> piedmontese còj.
italian: fertile (fruitful) --> piedmontese dru.

Groups of consonants:
pentnëtta (little comb), a tornran (they will come back), i marcc-rai (I shall walk), lvà (yeast)
as an example, the second word tornran has a correspondent italian torneranno in which three letters (two non-tonical vowels ad a n of the double consonant) are deleted. The first word pentnëtta and words like chërse (to grow), allow us to underline the most common use of ë (mute e). This is in front at true double consonants or groups of consonants, and often, in spite of its shortness, it holds the tonic stress of the word. We speak about "true double consonants" since the groups cc, gg, ss, nn, if not preceded by ë, are only graphical symbols that determine the pronounciation of single letters c, g, s, n, as we will see in the section Graphy and Phonology of the grammar.

Double consonants:
Taking into account words that in Piedmontese, French, Italian have a common Latin root, we notice that some particular groups of letters, in Latin words, have giver rise to twin consonants in the corresponding italian words and not in piedmontese word:
latin: noctem (the night) --> italian: notte --> french: nuit --> piedmontese: neuit.
latin: lactem (the milk) --> italian: latte --> french: lait --> piedmontese: lait.
latin: factum (fact and done, made) --> italian: fatto --> french: fait --> piedmontese: fait.
and in general a "not absolute" rule says that the latin group CT becomes in Italian TT while in French and Piedmontese becomes IT
anther latin group of letters: PT follows more or less the same rule. So we have:
latin: septem (fact and done, made) --> italian: sette --> french: sept --> piedmontese: set.
Another source of twin consonants, in Italian is given by Latin words containing twin consonants. Also in this case Piedmontese deleted the double:
latin error (error) --> italian errore --> french erreur --> piedmontese eror
latin currere (to run) --> italian correre -> french courir --> piedmontese core
The latin preposition ad is largely used for deriving composite verbs (ad + main verb, as for example: ad + vocare = advocare). For these verbs, and for the other words derived from them, in italian if the main verb starts by consonant, this latter becomes twin, and the d of ad is dropped. So from the supine advocatum the italian word avvocato (= lawyer) is derived, from the supine adpetitum the italin word appetito (= appetite) is derived, and so on. In piedmontese it is simply dropped the d of ad, but the following consonant remains simple. So we have the words avocat, aptit. In french we find both derivations, according to the specific word. In this case: avocat as in piedmontese and appetit as in italian.
The same mechanism applies to latin verbs composed by the preposition ab and a main verb, and the related derived words. The latin ab + solvere = absolvere (to absolve, to acquit) produces, in italian, assolvere . In french the corresponding word is absoudre so it does not change the latin style. In piedmontese the related word is assòlve (pron. / &s'olve /). At a first glance it seems that also in Piedmontese the twin consonant is produced. This is not true, since the two s in this word are a graphical symbol, for a simple s having dull sound even if this s is intervocalic (see the graphy and phonology section).
Nevertheless, looking at the piedmontese dictionary, we can still find other cases of twin consonants that have a little twin sound. Looking at them we immediately can notice that the twin consonant is always preceeded by the vowel ë. We will speak about this vowel later, now we just say that it is quite similar to the french mute e. Not only the twin consonant is preceded by this vowel, but also this vowel holds the tonic accent of the word. It is easy to verify that this type of twin consonant has mainly phonetical reasons, for avoiding pronouniation difficulties. So we have words as: fosëtta (rocket), sënner (ash), sëbber (wash-tub), Mëssa (Mass) and so on. The last word indicares that ss is an actual twin consonant when is preceded by ë..

Other "derivation rules":
We saw how some particular groups of letters in Latin words have changed in Piedmontese, Italian and French. We can observe other "rules" of this type.
The first is related to Latin words containing the group CL:
latin clavis (the key) --> italian chiave --> french clef --> piedmontese ciav (pron. / [ch]i'&u / ).
latin clamare (to call -> italian chiamare --> french (derived word) clameur (clamour) (in french "to call" is "appeler") -> piedmontese ciamé (pron. / [ch]i&m'e / )..
latin ecclesia (church) --> italian chiesa --> french eglise --> piedmontese césa (pron. / [ch]'ez& / )..
latin clarus (clear, light, bright) --> italian chiaro --> french clair -> piedmontese ciair (pron. / [ch]i'&ir / )..
Something similar happens for the group GL, as shown in the following examples:
latin glanda (acorn) --> italian ghianda e-> franch glande --> piedmontese gianda (pron. / [ji'&nd& / )..
latin glacies (ice) --> italian ghiaccio --> franch glace --> piedmontese giassa (pron. / ji'&s& / )..
This not absolute rule says that the latin groups cl,gl have given rise, in italian at guttural c, g; in french the groups are unchanged, in piedmontese they are changed into palatal c, g. For a better definition of the sounds look at Graphy and Phonology section.
The latin groups ce, ci, ge, gi tends to remain in italian, while in piedmontese they have been assibilated and became s, z. In french they tend to remain, but their pronounciation is as in piedmontese, or very similar:
latin legere (to read) --> italian leggere --> french lire --> piedmontese lese.
latin regere (to bear, to hold, to rule) --> italian reggere --> french regir --> piedmontese rese.
latin cera (wax) --> italian cera --> french cire --> piedmontese sira.
latin gingivia (gum, gingiva) --> italian gengiva --> french gencive -> piedmontese zanziva.
The italian fricative groups sci, sce, gli, gle in piedmontese do not exist, often substituted by s and j. The latter has the sound similar to the french "l mouillé":
italian scivolare (to slide) becomes in piedmontese sghié.
italian scienza (science) becomes in piedmontese siensa.
italian maglia (stitch, jersey, mesh) becomes in piedmontese maja (we underline the l-mouillé of french maille).

Subdivision of neo-Latin languages, some points:
One of the criteria for distinguishing the belonging of a nL language to the western or eastern group (law of Wartburg) is applicable to words derived from Latin that contained, in Latin, occlusive dull consonants (C, T, P) in an intervocalic position. In eastern languages they are maintained, while in western ones they disappear or become voiced consonants. As usual we report some examples that assign Italian to Eastern group and Piedmontese to the Western group:
latin aprilem (April) --> italian aprile --> french avril --> piedmontese avril.
latin apiculam (bee) --> italian ape --> french abeille --> piedmontese avija.
latin cicadam (cicada, balm cricket) --> italian cicala --> french cigale --> piedmontese siala.
latin amicam (friend) --> italian amica --> french amie --> piedmontese amìa.
latin digitalem (finger-stall) --> italian ditale --> french --> piedmontese dial.
latin formicam (ant) --> italian formica --> french fourmì --> piedmontese furmìa.
latin rotam (wheel) --> italian ruota --> french roue --> piedmontese roa.
latin focum (fire) --> italian fuoco --> french feu --> piedmontese feu.
Another criterium is that in Eastern nL languages (EnLl) the final S of Latin words disappears or it is vocalized, while Western nL languages (WnLl) it is at least partially maintained:
In Italian the final S does not exist. In Piedmontese is retained in some cases like second singular person of the future tense of all the verbs:
latin laudabis (you will praise) --> italian loderai --> piedmontese it laudras
second singular person of the present tense of some irregular verbs and auxiliary verbs:
latin tu es (you are) --> italian tu sei --> piedmontese it ses
latin tu habes (you have) --> italian tu hai --> piedmontese it l'has
latin tu facis (you do) --> italian tu fai --> piedmontese it fas
second singular person of all verbs when used with interrogative personal pronouns:
latin laudas tu? (do you praise?) --> italian lodi? --> piedmontese laudes-to
It is also correct piedmontese, and it is still commonly used in Pinerolo and Saluzzo area, the final s in the second singular person of all verbs in all tenses:
latin sero tu is (you go late) --> italian vai tardi --> piedmontese it vades tard
And still in other cases.
We have already seen some "rules" for particular groups of consonants. Those rules are not the only, and are part of the criteria that we are presenting. We will see later morphological differences. These first criteria assign to Piedmontese the same group of French (WnLl), different from the group of Italian (EnLl).
Now we will have a look to the composition of the Piedmontese lexicon.

The root of the words (Lexicon)

Words coming from Latin:
The majority of piedmontese words have a Latin origin. If we look at the "history" of words, we notice that not all these words come directly from Latin since many of them have an indirect derivation. From Latin they passed in French, in Provençal, and in other languages like the ones of Dauphinat or Savoie and then passed from those languages to Piedmontese. Here we look at word as such

Latin, not changed words shared with Italian.
A first group of words is made up by unchanged Latin words that can be found also in Italian. For these words sometimes in Piedmontese there are synonyms having different derivation. Here some examples:
latin aquila (eagle) --> italian aquila --> piedmontese aquila, but also òja, aghìa.
latin memoria (memory) --> italian memoria --> piedmontese memòria.
latin bestia (beast) --> italian bestia --> piedmontese bestia.

Latin not changed words, not shared with Italian.
Another group is made up by words that are exactly Latin words or , at least when pronounced, sound exactly as the Latin words, while in Italian they are more or less changed. This is mainly related to the fact that the italian sound "u" is, in Piedmontese, written "o", but not only. As examples:
latin aqua (water) --> italian acqua --> piedmontese aqua.
latin vidua (widow) --> italian vedova --> piedmontese vidoa (pron. /v'idu&/ ) (pronounced exactly like the Latin "vidua" ).
latin magister (teacher) --> italian maestro --> piedmontese magister.
latin miser (miserable, poor) --> italian misero --> piedmontese mìser.
latin culpa (fault) --> italian colpa --> piedmontese colpa (pron. /c'ulp&/ ) (pronounced exactly like the Latin "culpa").

Latin words, modified by Piedmontese.
Then there is a group of words that have been modified according to the Piedmontese style, and have lost the final vowel, but the root is exactly a Latin root. Among these words we do the following examples:
latin can-em (dog) --> italian cane --> piedmontese can.
latin pan-em (bread) --> italian pane --> piedmontese pan.
latin fen-um (hay) --> italian fieno --> piedmontese fen.
latin vulp-em (dog) --> italian volpe --> piedmontese volp (pronounced exactly like the Latin "vulp-").
latin urs-um (bear) --> italian orso --> piedmontese ors (pronounced exactly like the Latin "urs-").
We can consider as part of this group also the words in which the root has been shortened, as it can be seen in the following examples. Some of these words end in vowel, since they have lost also the last consonant of the root. Often the final vowel is then stressed.
latin ped-em (foot) --> italian piede --> piedmontese .
latin prat-um (meadow) --> italian prato --> piedmontese pra.
Piedmontese phonological rules change other Latin words, sometimes just a bit, and sometimes quite deeply. For the first case (little change):
latin arbor (tree) --> piedmontese erbo (italian albero).
latin currere (to run) --> piedmontese core (pronounced as it were a Latin "cure") --> (italian correre).
latin radicem (root) --> piedmontese radis (but also reis) --> (italian radice).
For the second case (deeper change):
latin caligarium (shoe repairer) --> piedmontese calié --> (italian calzolaio).
latin frictare (to rub) --> piedmontese fërté --> (italian sfregare).
latin digitum (finger) --> piedmontese dil --> (italian dito).
latin exclaudere (to open, to hatch) --> piedmontese s-ciòde --> (italian schiudersi).
and so on (these are just very few examples, of course). In this last two groups there are words that in italian and in piedmontese derive from the same Latin word, but are deeply different, since the two derivations followed different ways.

Words close to french
Piedmontese, as it can be seen by not piedmontese people, has a sort of french aspect. Indeed French influenced the Piedmontese, for historical and geographycal reasons. Turin was the capital city of a State spannig both sides of Alps. In any case the influence was on lexicon, and not on grammar. Certainly from french come the piedmontese vowels "u" and "eu". There are many words coming from France, some of them were deeply modified in Piedmontese, and some other were less modified.
french crayon (pencil) --> piedmontese crajon.
french travail (work) --> piedmontese travaj.
french travailler (to work) --> piedmontese travajé.
french soigner (to take care) --> piedmontese soagné.
french à la plus vite (quickly, without care) --> piedmontese a la pluvit.
french berger (shepherd) --> piedmontese bërgé.
french félure (cleft) --> piedmontese filura.
french dommage (pity, what a pity) --> piedmontese darmagi.
french rejouissance (gladness) --> piedmontese argioissansa.
french papillon (butterfly) --> piedmontese parpajon.
Then we remember the ending of the infinitive tense of verbs. The french desinence -er for the first conjugation is pronounced as the corresponding desinence of piedmontese first conjugation verbs, and so on for the other two piedmontese conjugations.
There are, instead, words that sound as fench words, but they aren't. Their derivation is independent, even if in some cases the result is identical. Some example of these words we consider first words that have the same pronounciation in piedmontese and french:
piedmontese euj (eye) is pronounced as the french oeil (pron. / [oe]y /).
piedmontese cheur (heart) is pronounced as the french coeur (pron. / c[oe]r /).
piedmontese feu (fire) is pronounced as the french feu (pron. / f[oe] /)..
piedmontese amor (love) is pronounced as the french amour (pron. / &m'ur /)..
piedmontese seur (nun, sister) is pronounced as the french soeur (pron. / s[oe]r /)..
piedmontese tajé (to cut) is pronounced as the french tailler (pron. / t&y'e /)..
piedmontese parèj (similar, in this way) is pronounced as the french pareil (pron. / p&r'æy /)..
then other words are written in the same way in fench and piedmontese, but pronounced in different way. Also these words have an independent derivation in the two languages.
piedmontese lait (pron. / l'&it /) (milk) is written as the french lait (pron. / l'e /).
piedmontese fait (pron. / f'&it /) (fact, done) is written as the french fait (pron. / f'e /).
piedmontese avril (April) is written as the french avril (and also the pronounciation is the same).
and so on.
But there are other words that came from an old French, and then they are still Piedmontese words and not French words any more, in the sense that are still normally used in Piedmontese and no more in French.
piedmontese locé (to shake, to wobble) comes from old french lochier.
piedmontese giajet (sequin, bead) comes from old french jayet.
piedmontese antruché (to stumble, to bump into) comes from old french truc.
piedmontese sgiaj (fright, fear) comes from old provençal esglai.
And still other words that are closer to very old French than to modern French.
piedmontese tasté (to taste) comes from old french taster (now tâter).
piedmontese stagera (shelf) comes from old french estagère (now étagere).
and many others. There is a series of words that have two forms, the one of french origin and the other of italian origin.
papé and carta (paper); in french papier in italian carta.
marjé and maridé (to marry); in french marier in italian maritare.
mariagi and matrimòni (wedding); in french mariage in italian matrimonio.
arsòrt and mòla (spring - mechanical - ); in french ressort in italian molla.
mojen and manera (mode, manner, way); in french moyen in italian maniera.

Words coming from Provence, Dauphinate, Savoy. Bourgogne..
The Provençal "langue d'oc" had certainly a strong influence on Piedmontese. It is the "border language", still spoken in high alpine walleys, with some differences passing from south to north (Provence, Dauphinate, Savoy).
The first point that we note is the desinence -aire (sometimes -ajre), that correspond to the Latin desinence -ator, also used in English in the same way. This type of desinence is of Provençal origin. In the following we report some piedmontese words derived from provençal and making use of this desinence. We note that these words were normally used in the past, but now are not so much used.
piedmontese mangiàire (great eater, glutton), from provençal manijaire.
piedmontese paciocàire (bungler, muddler), from provençal pachoucaire.
piedmontese preciàire (preacher), from provençal prechaire.
Then the same desinence was also used for words not derived from provençal.
piedmontese rapaciàire (young thief, petty thief ), from the word rapacé (to steal).
Another provençal desinence is -éta used for altering the meaning of names (in sense of little and nice), and sometimes without this meaning. For example viòla means violet, while violéta means little, nice violet. The same meaning has the desinence -ëtta, that is not provençal.
Here we give an example of words derived from Provence, Dauphinate, Savoy:
piedmontese ajassin (corn, callus) from provençal agacin.
piedmontese gioch (poulterer) from provençal jouc.
piedmontese bragalé (to shout, to bawl) from provençal bradalà.
piedmontese greuja (shell) from provençal grueyo.
piedmontese giari (mouse) from dauphin. jarri.
piedmontese pro (sufficiently, enough) from savoyard prou.
piedmontese gariòt (trachea, Adam's apple) from savoyard garyo.
piedmontese malsuà (restless, uneasy) from burgundian mal soig.

Words coming from Italy (italian and italian dialects)..
A group of word comes from italian, or better, from italian dialects. Some of them are simpli the same, some other are changed according the same rules of derivation from Latin. This was a natural procedure, as it happened to Latin words centuries before. Also in this case often there are synonyms having another derivation. Here some word not modified:
italian ma (but) the same in piedmontese.
italian mai (never) the same in piedmontese.
italian sempre (always) used in piedmontese, but also sempe, semper (sempe is the most used).
italian scarpa (shoe) the same in piedmontese.
italian (yes) used in piedmontese, but also é, òi.
and then some words "adapted" to Piedmontese (taking into account that sometimes only the pronounciation is different) sometimes deeply modified:
italian scatola (pron. / sc'&tol& /) (box), piedmontese scàtola (pron. / sc'&tul& /)
italian invece (instead of), piedmontese anvece
italian saccoccia (pocket), piedmontese sacòcia
italian dichiarazione (declaration), piedmontese diciara
italian risentire (to hear again), piedmontese arsente
italian spaventare, spaurire (to frighten), piedmontese sbarué

Other derivations (Pre-indoeuropean, Celtic, Spanish, German, Arabian).
Some piedmontese words come from the period that preceded the arrival of Celts. These words are about 3000 years old.
Among them we mention:
piedmontese verna (alder) in italian ontano.
piedmontese brich (hill) in italian collina.
piedmontese such (base of a tree, log) in italian ceppo.
In Piedmontese there are still words coming from the Celtic language, and not only toponyms. These words are not so many, but they have a great historical importance. They are words 2700 years old.
In Celtic language, the water was called dur. From this, two of the piedmontese rivers are called Dòjra, but often, in current speaking, in particular in country, each river is called "dòjra". Another celtic term for water was bial (also in piedmontese there are two different terms for water: eva and aqua). Little rivers or brooks or canals are called, in piedmontese bialera (in italian "ruscello", "canale").
Often the word is recognized as celtic since it can be found wherever Celts has influence on language. We can look at the examples that follow:
piedmontese crin (pig, pork) --> celtic cruina, grein (italian "maiale", french "cochon").
piedmontese cròch (hook) --> celtic crog --> germanic krok (italian "uncino").
piedmontese bren (bran) --> gallic, provençal, spanish and old french bran --> breton brann (italian "crusca").
piedmontese dru (fruitful, fertile) --> celtic dru, drut (italian "fertile").
From this word the piedmontese "drugia" (manure, dung) is derived. The latin word was "fimus", from which is derived the french "fumier".
piedmontese galaverna (heavy frost) --> celtic galerne, gwalarn (cold wind).
piedmontese balma (den, cavern) --> celtic balmen (high rock).
And many others.
Piedmontese words of german (teutonic) origin:
Words that began to enter in Piedmontese in the period of barbarian invasions, but also later, mainly brought by soldiers that passed or stayed in Piedmont as allied or enemies in various periods. Here some examples:
piedmontese barba (uncle): --> latin pairuus, avunculus, italian zio, french oncle; comes from longobard bas.
piedmontese trafen (noise): --> latin fermitus, rumor, tumultus --> italian rumore, baccano --> french bruit; comes from germanic treffen (battle).
piedmontese tòta (girl, miss): --> latin puella --> italian signorina, french mademoiselle; comes from germanic Tochter (girl).
and so on.
Piedmontese words of spanish origin:
They are not so many, and have been brought by soldiers that more than once came in Piedmont to fight.
piedmontese borich (donkey): --> latin asinus --> italian asino --> french âne; comes from spanish burro (coming, in turn, from Arabic).
piedmontese creada (maid, wench): --> italian fantesca; comes from spanish criada.
piedmontese lun-es (monday): --> italian lunedì; comes from spanish lunes.
then also piedmontese ajdemì (alas!) is from spanish ay de mi.
and so on.
Piedmontese words of arab origin:
piedmontese coefa (veil): --> latin velum --> italian velo --> french veil; comes from arabic keifa.
piedmontese fauda (lap, womb): --> latin gremium --> italian grembo --> french giron; comes from arabic fodhal.
and so on.


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