Very Quick Lessons

Piedmontese for English Speaking People

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Lesson 4

Piedmontese Grammar

Substantives - specific part

We note that among substantive with fixed gender, some are masculine in Piedmontese and feminine in Italian, and viceversa. This happen both with substantives having different root and then different derivation, and with substantive having the same root and the same latin derivation. Here we give a little exemple of these two groups.

Substantives that are masculine in Piedmontese and feminine in Italian
Piedmontese (masculine) ....Italian (feminine).... ..........English ...........
amson mietitura harvesting
armognan albicocca apricot
ars˛rt molla spring
autin vigna vineyard
bÓuti altalena swing
b˛sch legna wood
botal botte barrel
bornel doccia shower
brassab˛sch edera ivy
cotin gonna skirt
crajon matita pencil
foet frusta whip
ludvich allodola skylark
mantil tovaglia table-cloth
mërlip˛ salvia sage
papÚ carta paper
persi pesca (fruit) peach
pocio nespola medlar
pom mela apple
pruss pera pear
rid˛ tendina curtain
ruso ruggine rust
tuf afa sultriness

Substantives that are feminine in Piedmontese and masculine in Italian
Piedmontese (feminine) ....Italian (masculine).... ..........English ...........
alvÓ lievito yeast
aquarela acquerello watercolour
Ómpola lampone raspberry
arbra pioppo poplar
braje pantaloni trousers
(la) cÓud (il) caldo (the) hot
coefa velo veil
ciadeuvra capolavoro masterpiece
crija bando proclamation
crosiera incrocio crossing
drugia letame dung
doja boccale jug
fÓuda grembo lap, womb
(la) fior (il) fiore (the flower
(la) frŔid (il) freddo (the) cold
(la) fum (il) fumo (the) smoke
giassa ghiaccio ice
(la) matin (il) mattino (the) morning
manten-a corrimano handrail
pÓuta fango mud
(la) resta (il) resto (the) change
)la) sal (il) sale (the) salt
sigala sigaro cigar
(la) seugn (il) sonno (the) sleep
trýfola tartufo truffle
tign˛la gelone chilblain

About the number of nouns, we note some piedmontese substantive which have only the plural form, but have a singular meaning:
  • le ross˛le = the measles (in Piedmontese also the associated werb is plural)
  • le vair˛le = the smallpox
  • j'ampromŰttiure = the engagement, the betrothal
  • le batiaje = the baptism
  • etc.
Then there are substantives having singular form and plural meaning (collective nouns), that in Piedmontese have a particularity: they can have the verb at plural. In some way this is similar to what happens in English with the word "people". A word that can traslate "people" into Piedmontese is "gent", which corresponds to the italian word "gente". The english sentence "people do not understand" can be translate into Piedmontese with "la gent a capisso nen" (verb at plural) or "la gent a capiss nen" (verb at singular), while in Italian the verb at singular is mandatory "la gente non capisce".
As a last observation we consider the masculine substantive "capitani" which is invariant in number. Its meaning is "captain", and it is both singular and plural, even if the form is plural. Just for information we report the military ranks in Piedmontese (reference: italian army):
  • soldÓ
  • caporal
  • caporalmagior
  • sergent
  • sergentmagior
  • maressial (ordinari)
  • maressial cap
  • maressialmagior
  • sot-tenent
  • tenent
  • capitani
  • magior
  • tenent colonÚl
  • colonÚl
  • general Űd brigÓ
  • general Űd divison
  • general Űd c˛rp d'armÓ

Altered nouns
In Piedmontese, as it is in Italian, nouns can be alterated to introduce the idea of "little" (diminutive), of "graceful" (terms of endearment), of "big" (augmentative) and of "bad" (pejorative). This is obtained by means of opportune desinences. First of all we give the translation of the terms:
  • English -----> Piedmontese
  • Altered nouns -----> N˛m auterÓ
  • Diminutive -----> Diminutiv
  • Term of endearment ----> Carëssativ
  • Augmentative ---> Chërsativ
  • Pejorative ----> Dispresiativ
Then there are composite alterations that we will see.

Diminutive (Diminutiv)
In Piedmontese the used desinences are:
For masculine "," which are invariant at plural
For feminine "...ëtta, ...eta," for singular and "...ëtte, ...ete," for plural
The desinence, as a rule, substitutes the last vowel or, if the noun ends by consonant, is simply added to the noun. The origin of the desinence "...eta" is provençal. In some words there are euphonical variations. These variations are in accordance with the piedmontese formation rules of the words. So we have:
  • gal = cock ---> galet = cockerel, little cock
  • fieul = boy, young man ---> fiolin = little boy, little young man
  • banca = bench ---> banchŰtta = little bench, garden seat
  • p˛rta = door ---> portin-a = little door
  • vi˛la = violet -> violŰtta or violeta = little violet
  • etc.
We note that if the last vocal sound is "eu" (pron. \ [oe] \), this is changed into "o" (pron. \ u \) as we've seen in the second line of the list. Another example:
  • paireul = paiolo ---> (copper) pot = little pot
  • etc.

Terms of endearment (Carëssativ)
In Piedmontese the used desinences are:
For masculine "...˛t, ...˛to, ...ucio, ...uss," which are invariant at plural
For feminine "...˛ta, ...ucia, ...ussa," for singular and "...˛te, ...uce, ...usse," for plural
We note that the desinences "," are also diminutive, and, in general there is a sort of interchangeability among the two sets. Some examples:
  • paisan-a = woman farmer ---> paisan˛ta = graceful woman farmer
  • vÚj = old man ---> vej˛to = pleasant, quiet old man
  • gat = cat ---> gatuss = pussy(-cat)
  • etc.
Then there are specific terms containing the idea of "graceful", one (idiomatic) classical of them is:
  • pocionin = dear little tresor, or similar (appellation between persons in love - literally it could be: little medlar).
  • etc.

Augmentative (Chërsativ)
In Piedmontese the used desinence is:
For masculine "...on" which is invariant at plural
For feminine "...on-a" for singular and "...on-e" for plural
In the following examples we note that if the word ends by consonant the desinence is just added, while if the word ends by vowel the desinence substitutes the ending vowel.
  • cit = child (male) ---> citon = big child
  • cita = child (female) ---> citon-a = big child, big young girl
  • etc.

Pejorative (Dispresiativ)
In Piedmontese the used desinences are:
For masculine "...ass, ...astr," which are invariant at plural
For feminine "...assa, ...astra,, ...aja" for singular and "...asse, ...astre, ...aje" for plural
The desinences ",, ...aja, ...aje" have a collective sense, and are used for collective nouns.
  • paisan = farmer ---> paisanass = a rude person
  • gent = people ---> gentaja = rabble
  • mare = mother ---> marastra = stepmother
  • etc.
Not all the forms of the Pejorative have a sense of "bad". Some of them have an affable sense. For example:
  • bon˛m = simple-minded man ---> bonomass = a good simple man
  • etc.
Also in Italian there is a mechanism of this type, but used for other words.

Composite alterations
It is possible to associate two alterations in order to obtain particular "effects". The most usual associations are diminutive + term of endearment and Augmentative + Pejorative
The first composite alteration induces the idea of "little and graceful", and uses the desinences:
For masculine "˛t, ...etin, ...ëttin, ...inin, ...otin", which are invariant at plural.
For feminine "˛ta, ...etin-a, ...ëttin-a, ...inin-a, ...otin-a" at singular and "˛te, ...etine, ...inin-e, ...otin-e" at plural.
The second composite alteration induces the idea of "bad and big", and uses the desinences:
For masculine "...asson, ...onass", which are invariant at plural.
For feminine "...asson-a, ...onassa" at singular and "...asson-e, ...onasse" at plural.
Some examples of these composite alterations:
  • m˛ra = brunette ---> moretin-a = nice and little brunette
  • fija = girl ---> fijëttin-a = nice and little girl
  • crin = pig ---> crinasson = bad and dirty man
  • ˛m = man ---> omasson = man big and tall (non necessarily in negative sense)
  • etc.

Irregular alterations
Nouns ending with a stressed "...Ó" insert an euphonical "...d..." between root and desinence and keep the "...a". The same happens for names ending by stressed "...˛" (grave accent). In this case, since the stress moves to desinence, the "˛" becomes "o" and the pronounciation changes from \ o \ to \ u \.
Nouns ending by stressed "...Ú" (acure accent) insert an euphonical "...r..." between root and desinence and keep the "...e".
  • s-ciairÓ = a look ---> s-ciairadin-a = a little quick look
  • ci˛ = nail ---> ciodin = little nail
  • bergÚ = shepherd -> berger˛t = little shepherd (boy)
  • etc.
Then, some nouns have particular alterations. For example:
  • sgiaf = slap ---> sgiaflon = violent slap
  • f˛l = stupid ---> folaton = big stupid
  • masnÓ = child, baby (invariant in gender and number) ---> masnaj˛ta = little, nice child (m. and f.) ---> masnaj˛te = little, nice children (m. and f.)
  • strÓ = street ----> straj˛la = narrow street
  • etc.
As already seen, the coherence of pronunciation requires some changes when the noun ends by ",,,". This does not happen, in this case, for the ending by "...n". As usual we give some examples:
  • r˛ch \ r'ok \ = stone ---> rocon \ ruc'u[ng] \ = big stone (the "h" is lost)
  • baricc \ b&r'i[ch] \ = squint ---> bariciass \ b&ri[ch]'&s \ = badly squint (a "c" is lost and a "i" is added)
  • man \ m&[ng] \ = hando -> man¨cia \ m&n'[ue][ch]i& \ = little hand (the "n" does not change)
  • etc.

False alterations
As it is also in Italian, there are words that appear as altered forms of other words, but they aren't. For example:
The piedmontese word cassa has some meanings: "hunting, cash, counter, ladle". The word "cassin-a" is nothing referred to something little, since the meaning is "farm".
In the same way, the word "baron" does not indicate a large bar but is a "baron" (as in English) or a "heap, mass, stack"
Diminutives that change root
As in many other languages, in Piedmontese the diminutive of some words is a different word, and sometimes there are different diminutives. So:
"beu" = "ox" ; a little ox is a "vitÚl" or also a "vailet"
"vaca" = "cow" ; a little cow is a "vitela
And so on.

The nouns Madama, Madamin, T˛ta, Mons¨, Sgnor, Sgnora

Once in Piedmont there was the partiarchal family, as it was everywhere. Often it happened that when a girl got married, she went to live in the house of her husband. This was true in particular in the country, connected to the necessity of the agricultural work, but also in the cities often the young couple hadn't the possibility of finding an own house. As a consequence the new family was "included" in the one of the husband. In those times the wife assumed the surname of the husband, and so, the same surname of her mother-in-law.
This latter was the master of the house and (let's suppose a common piedmontese surname : Pautass) she became, with the marriage of her son, Madama Pautass. The new entry, wife of the son of Madama Pautass, being at a lower level assumed the name of Madamin Pautass. The daughter of madamin Pautass once grown up some years would have become T˛ta Pautass (t˛ta = miss) and she would have remained t˛ta Pautass up to her marriage. If she didn't get married, she remained t˛ta all the life long.
When a "t˛ta" reached the age in which it became difficult to find a husband, speaking about her (when she was absent) someone started to call her "toton" (which is, effectively, the augmentative of "tota" and, maliciously, becomes of masculine gender). In English and in Italian there is not the piedmontese difference between Madama and Madamin. Both are Madam in English and Signora in Italian.
For the masculine, the correspondent of Madama, Madamin, T˛ta is unique and is "Mons¨" which is the non confidential form of referring to a person, and corresponds to the english "Mister" or the italian "Signor(e)". The italian word "signore" is also referred to distinction, importance, richness, nobility. In English there are terms like "gentleman, sir, lord". In Piedmontese this meaning is expressed with "Sgnor, Sgnora" (\s[gn]'ur\ \ s[gn]'ur&\) respectively for masculine and feminine, that is referred also to noble mindedness. The appellation Signor is usually reserved to God.
So there are expressions like: "Madama Pautass a l'Ú pr˛pi na sgnora. = Ms. Pautass is realy a gentlewoman", or "Sgnor avocat, mons¨ Pautass a ciÓma Űd vŰdd-Ve = Sir (the) lawyer, mister Pautass asks for seeing you". About this we note that in classical Piedmontese, the way of respect to speak to an important or elderly person is to use "Voi" = (you - plural -). For usual not confidential relations "ChiŔl, chila" = (he, she) is used. Then, for confidential relations the "Ti" = (you - singular -, thou) is used.
We still will speak about this in Syntax.

Translation of surnames

Since the Piedmontese is not recognized by Italy as a language, necessarily the Piedmontese surnames are expressed in an italian (legal) form. But always, in Piedmont surnames have been translated according to the piedmontese rules of derivation, and adapted to the piedmontese tongue. These rules are the same for which a latin word became a piedmontese word (as we've seen before). So we have that...
  • Rossi, Rosso becomes Ross (pron. \ rus \)
  • Manzoni, Manzone becomes Manson (pron. \ m&[ng]zu[ng] \)
  • Rizzotto, Rizzotti becomes Ris˛t (pron. \ rizot \)
  • Quaglia becomes Quaja (pron. \ [qu]&y& \)
  • Cappello, Capello becomes CapÚl (pron. \ c&p'el \)
  • Pautasso becomes Pautass (pron. \ p&ut'&s \)
  • etc.

The (first) names

We give some piedmontese names of person, starting from the italian and english form:
.......................Italian....................... ......................English...................... .................Piedmontese..................
Caterina Catherine Catlin-a
Francesco Francis FransŔsch
Pietro, Piero Peter Pero
Giuseppino (Pino)
Joseph, Joe Giusep
dimin.= Giuspin (Pino, Pinin, Pin˛t)
James, Jim Giaco
dimin.= Giacolin
Lucia Lucy Lussýa
Giorgio George Gi˛rs
Tommaso Thomas TomÓ
Luigi Louis Luis
Bartolomeo Bartholomew BŰrtromÚ
dimin.= Tromlin
Margerita Margaret Margrita
dimin.= Margritin, Ghitin
Maddalena Magdalene
dimin.= Madlinin
Carlo Charles Carlo
dimin.= Carl¨cio
Vittorio Victor Vit˛rio
short = T˛jo
Camillo ---- Camilo
short = Milo
Lorenzo, Renzo Lawrence Lorens, Rens

The place names

Not only piedmontese places have a piedmontese noun, but also the main places in the worl have a piedmontese name or, at least, a piedmontese pronunciation of the name, when this coincides with the name in local or italian language. About this we note that the name of the city of Turin has been changed only in Italian, where becomes Torino. In French, English, German, and Piedmontese the name is Turin. The piedmontese pronunciation is \ t[ue]r'i[ng] \, in French the pron. is \ t[ue]r'Š[ng] \, in German the pron. is \ t'uri[ng] \, in English the pron. is \ ti'uri[ng] \.
Not all the places that we report have an english name and besides, an english person usually can find (e.g. on a map) only italian names (remember that italian government does not want to recognize the Piedmontese), so we give the italian and the piedmontese name. When there is also the english name, we give also it.

.......................Italian....................... ......................English...................... .................Piedmontese..................
Vercelli ---- VersŔj (pr. \ vŠrs'Šy \)
Cuneo ---- Coni (pr. \ c'uni \)
Asti ---- Ast (pr. \ &st \)
Lanzo ---- Lans (pr. \ l'&[ng]s \)
Alessandria ---- Lissandria (pr. \ lis'&ndri& \)
Bardonecchia ---- BardonÚcia (pr. \ b&rdun'e[ch]i& \)
Venezia Venice VenÚssia (pr. \ ven'esi& \)
Napoli Neaples NÓpoli (pr. \ n'&puli \)
Parigi Paris Paris (pr. \ p&r'iz \)
Lione Lyon Lion (pr. \ li'u[ng] \)
Berlino Berlin Berlin (pr. \ bærl'i[ng] \)

Two notes:
1) - In Turin the cathedral is entitled to Saint John the Baptist, and, for all in Turin, that is the "Cesa 'd San Gioan" = "Church of St. John", or more simply "the D˛m" = "the Cathedral". But in Turin there is also the church and annexed Salesian Institute of Saint John the Evangelist. For all, in Turin, this is the "Cesa 'd San Gioanin" = "Church of St. Little John" and this is also the common appellative of the related Salesian Institute. About this we remember that the founder of Salesians, Sait John B˛sco in Turin is simply called "Don B˛sch".
2) - The piedmontese name "Pero" = "Peter" is not used for indicating Saint Peter, which is translated into "San PÚ" The name is not used as a first name.
For other particularities see the Syntax.

An alpine lake
   in Maira valley

. (photo B. Garmondi)

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