Very short notes on

Piedmontese syntax - First part

Just underlining some differences with Italian

indice casa

In neolatin languages ...

...the syntax, often very different from the Latin one, has followed a very similar evolution. In all of them prepositions were introduced for building complements instead of declentions of nouns and adjectives, two auxiliary verbs are used and subjunctive and conditional moods have been differentiated. Some points of difference are anyway noticed.
Here we consider some differences between italian and piedmontese syntax. We do not mean to give a complete view of this subject but only give examples of the existing differences, in order to underline the different typology of the two languages.

Elementary sentence and related concordances

Subject and predicate

The subject verbal pronoun

A first peculiarity of Piedmontese (as we already noticed), is the use of the personal verbal pronoun, acting as a subject, each time in a sentence there is an explicit verbal voice with the only exception of the imperative mood (and impersonal voices, of course). This means that when the sentence has an explicit subject, it contains two elements acting as a subject. Personal verbal pronouns are invariant with respect the gender, they have the same person and number of the main explicit subject. As it happens in Italian, the main explicit subject can be neglected and understood, while the verbal pronoun has to be always expressed (as said before, and we will see below an exception). We notice that also in English the subject is nearly always expressed, and certanly more than in Italian. As examples:
- The sentence I come in italian can be translated as Io vengo or, often, simply Vengo. In piedmontese it is translated into Mi i ven-o or simply I ven-o, where mi is the personal pronoun explicit subjet, and i is the verbal pronoun.
- The sentence the dog eats and then it wangs its tail in italian can be translated as Il cane mangia e poi scodinzola where the first verb has il cane (the dog) as an explicit subject, and the second verb has a not expressed, understood subject. In piedmontese the sentence sounds l can a mangia e peui a bogia la coa. Where the first verb has the subjects l can and the verbal pronoun a, while the explicit sbject is not expressed for the second verb, but there is anyway the verbal pronoun a. Note that this verbal pronoun is not the usual personal pronoun ( that would be chiel).
There is an exception to this rule, when a series of verbs are connected with commas or the preposition e (and), and they are without common complements and they have not a meaning of subsequentiality, but they can be considered a multiple action assigned to the subject. In this case it is possible, but not mandatory, to avoid the verbal pronouns for the verbs following the first (that requires it). The following examples try to clarify this situation:
- A cat eats and sleeps becomes Un gat a mangia e deurm (in italian Un gatto mangia e dorme). Here the verbal pronoun is not mandatory, since the meaning does not imply consequentiality but express that the cat is able to do and it does both actions
- He comes and goes if the context is the same as before, the sentence becomes Chiel a ven e v but if the meaning is that he comes and then he goes, the sentence is Chiel a ven e a v. In both cases in italian the sentence is Lui viene e va.
- He runs and drinks a lot. If the complement a lot is common to runs and drinks the sentence can be translated into chiel a cor e biv un mugg but if the complement is referred only to the second verb the translation is mandatorily chiel a cor e a biv un mugg. In italian there are not differences between the two sentences.

The predicate and its concordances

There are not "logical" differences among Italian, French and Piedmontese about this point, in particular when the sentence is elementary (without complements). In this case the predicate is in concordance with the subject in person and number. In case of nominal predicate, the concordance is also in gender (if applicable). This also happens in passive and intransitive verbs making use of the auxiliary esse = to be, for the past participle of the main verb. For example:
- He has gone, she has gone are translated into Chiel a l' andait, Chila a l' andaita. This mechanism is similar in Italian.
An observation has to be done about nominal predicate and passive verbal predicate (that usually has or understands an indirect agent complement). In Piedmontese often the past participle is not also an adjective, as it is in Italian. For example the italian sentence L'anello stretto means both the ring is tight depicting a status of the ring (nominal predicate), and the ring is tightened meaning that the ring experiences the action of someone or something that tightens it. In piedmontese the two sentences are respectively l'anl a l' strit where strit is the adjective (tight, narrow) describing a status, and l'anl a l' strenz where there is a passive verb, being strenz the past participle of the verb strenze (to tighten).

A particularity

The emphatic form of "I am", in the meaning "I am the one (that)....", in Piedmontese cam be translated into :"a l' mi (che)....." or in the form "(i) son mi", while the plain form is "mi i son", or "i son". The first way a l' mi (che)..... corresponds approximatively to french c'est moi (que).... This form can be extended to other persons: a l' ti .... (you are ...!, it is you (that)....) and so on.

Attributes and Appositions

They are always in complete concordance with the name they are referred to. No particular differences exist, in general, with respect the Italian. Only when the apposition is a title like "mister, doctor, count, etc." there are some particularities. This point deserves a bit of space:
Mister, gentleman, are translated into Moss, Sor, Sgnor \ mus'[ue] , sur , s[gn]ur \
Sir, Lord, are translated into Sor, Sgnor \ sur , s[gn]ur \
Madam, is translated, with some care (we will see this) into Madama, Madamin \ m&d'&m& , m&d&m'i[ng] \.
Lady, is translated into Sora, Sgnora \ s'ur& , s[gn]'ur& \
Miss, is translated into Tta \ t'ot& \
First of all we look at the difference between Madama and Madamin. Up to some tens of years ago, a married woman assumed the surname of her husband. So she had the same surname of her mother-in-law. The latter, assumed then the appellative "Madama", while the daughter-in-law the one of "Madamin". If a woman didn't marry, she remained "Tta".
Now let's go back at the use of these appellatives.
- Sor and Sora are used only followed by a title or a name of profession. Usually at vocative (direct speech), without article. In this way they do not mean only Sir, but also Mister. For example: Sor dotor, Sor Baron, Sor magister, Sor cavajer, Sor avocat are used while speaking to these subjects (doctor, baron, teacher, knight, lawyer).
- If the speach is not direct, and the case is not vocative, Sor and Sora can be used with article, or Moss and Madama are used.
- If Moss and Madama are used with titles, then the construction is (similar to french) madama/moss - article - title - Surname/name (if needed) e. g. Madama la Baron-a Tornacasitpeule sounds Madam the baroness Gobackhomeifyoucan
In piedmontese the confidential way of directly speaking to somebody is the second singular person ti. A formal (or at least non confidential) way of directly speaking to someone is the third singular person chil. The second plural person voi is sometimes used to speak to someone much older than the speaker, or a person that we want to consider as important. We note that in this case only voi is used, while when we speak to a more than one person (actual plural) we can also use (and it is preferred) voiutri.

Possessive adiectives and pronouns

As it is in Italian and in Fench, also in Piedmontedse possessive adjectives and pronouns are in concordance with the owned thing and not with the owner. This is just to remind this difference with respect English. A difference with respect Italian is that possessive adjecives don't like the article, which is used only at plural masculine (see Grammar).

Complements with personal pronouns

We notice first that personal pronouns subjet and personal pronoun complement are the same when their vowel is tonical. They can change according their position in the sentence and the preceding and following letters. This will be seen in grammar.

Collapsed pronouns (verbal + personal complements)

When in the sentence personal pronouns exist acting as complements (accusative or dative), they "interfere" with the verbal pronoun (subject) and often the two produce a unique pronominal particle holding the meaning of both of them (see also grammar). For example:
- He tell me is in theory translated into Chiel a dise a mi where a mi (to me) is the dative. In this case the verbal pronoun a and the dative a mi collapse into a unique word which is am and the sentence is correctly translated into Chiel am dis.
- He tell you is in theory translated into Chiel a dis a ti where a ti (to you) is the dative. In this case the verbal pronoun a and the dative a ti collapse into a unique word which is at and the sentence is correctly translated into Chiel at dis.
-They tell usis in theory translated into Lor a diso a noi where a noi (to us) is the dative. In this case the verbal pronoun a and the dative a noi collapse into a unique word which is an and the sentence is correctly translated into Lor an diso. (see grammar for other cases).

Direct object (accusative)

There are differences, with respect Italian, due to the different way of building the sentence, when the direct complement is a personal pronoun. We can consider the following sentence:
- Peter has frightened her that in italian can be Pietro la ha spaventata or Pietro ha spaventato lei where la, lei stands for her. We notice that the past participle is changing the gender and in the first case is in concordance with the complement (Peter has frightened him becomes Pietro lo ha spaventato) while in the second case the past participle does not change in any case. In Piedmontese this construction of the sentences is followed only in simple tenses (without auxiliary verbs and past participle), while in compound tenses the pronoun direct complement passes after the past participle and it is connected to it. So the sentence in Piedmontese is Pero a l'ha sburd-la. The dash is not usually used in this case, but here is indicated for underlining that the past participle sburd does not change in any case.
In grammar we see more in deep this question. Here we underline that in case of composite tenses (like present perfect), the position of the pronominal particles is different from Italian, I have seen myself, I have seen you that in italian are Mi sono visto, ti ho visto in piedmontese are I son vëddume, i l'hai vëddute.

Indirect object (dative)

It is necessary to pay attention at the second singular person if present as a subject or complement or both (riflessive). The following examples show these cases:
- The sentence You tell me that in Italian is tu mi dici, tu dici a me, mi dici, dici a me, in piedmontese is logically Ti it m dise, Ii m dise where m is the dative complement me, to me. In this case it m remain separated and there are no problems.
- The sentence I tell you that in Italian is io ti dico, io dico a te, ti dico, dico a te, in piedmontese is logically Mi i t diso, I t diso where t is the dative complement you, to you. In this case i t can become a i 't that, as pronounced, could be interpreted as a verbal pronoun subject of the second singular person. In the context of the sentence it is clear that this is not the case, and the sentence itself is translated into Mi i 't diso, mi it diso, where, at a first glance, the verbal pronoun i seems to be missing and substituted by a wrong verbal pronoun. This is not the case.
- The two sentences You say, You say to yourself, that in italian are translated into ti dici, tu ti dici, in piedmontese are translated into the sentence, similarly pronounced, Ti it dise, Ti it 't dise.
Also in case of dative there are differences when the complement is a personal pronoun and are generated by the different way of building the sentence. In Piedmontese the rules are followed which we have above seen. In simple tenses the complement is before the verb as a pronominal particle or after the verb with the preposition, while in compound tenses the complement is after the verbs and connected to it. For example:
- I ask him that in italian is io gli chiedo, Io chiedo a lui is in Piedmontese Mi i-j ciamo, Mi i ciamo a chiel where j, a chiel stand for him, to him.
- I have asked him that in italian is io gli ho chiesto, Io ho chiesto a lui is in Piedmontese Mi i l'hai ciamje, Mi i l'hai ciam a chiel
When in a sentence both direct and indirect (accusative and dative) complements are present which are represented by personal pronouns, the two differences are added (position and concordance of the past participle). These differences are still related to compound tenses of the verb, and are shown in the following example:
-I have asked it to him (where it is referred to a masculine thing in Ital./Piem.)
in Italian: Io glielo ho chiesto where gle = to him and lo = it. In Piedmontese Mi i l'hai ciamjlo where j = to him and lo = it
-I have asked it to him (where it is referred to a feminine thing in Ital./Piem.)
in Italian: Io gliela ho chiesto where gle = to him and la = it. In Piedmontese Mi i l'hai ciamjla where j = to him and la = it
We notice that in Italian the pronomional particles after the verb are used in Imperative and Impersonal moods:
-Say it to him is in Italian diglelo and in Piedmontese dijlo
In grammar we will see also the various exceptions.

The relative pronoun "che"

The behaviour of this pronoun, in Piedmontese, i quite different than in Italian. The form are "chi" (who, whom), "che" (who, whom, which, that), "dont" (of which, to which, of whom, to whom), "cos, cosa" (what) generally used, and the form qual, quala, quai, quale that are nearly not used in correct Piedmontese, if not in interrogative form. All these forms can be also adjectives.(See grammar).
What we want to underline here, is that the pronoun che, in Piedmontese covers all the cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, ablative,, both singular and plural even if, when possible, for genitive and dative the pronoun dont is used.
For someone accustomed to use italian syntax, the piedmontese phrases could sound a bit odd. In this way, in fact, sometimes the entence require some additional personal pronoun. For example:
The person whom I gave money to. --> La person-a che i l'hai daje ij sold (literally the person whom I gave to him money).
Th house of which I spoke to you. --> La c dont i l'hai parlate.
The reason for which you don't go. La rason che it vas nen. but also la rason përch it vas nen (the reason why don't you go).
Things about which you cannot do anything. Le cse che it peule nen fene gnente (things that yon cannot do of then anithing)
As it is also possible to see in preceding examples, when possible the sentence is better constructed avoiding the relative pronoun:
The place wich you arrive from --> The place from where you arrive --> 'L pst da 'ndova it rive
The words qual, quala, quai, quale are still piedmontese words, but are not used as long as it is possible. The use of these words is a "not natural piedmontese".

The complements in general

Direct object

We note first that there are verbs that in italian have intransitive meaning and in piedmontese they are transitive. The concept is the same, but it is differently expressed. Then both in piedmontese and in italian, there are verbs that can be transitive or intransitive and the cencepts expressed in the two cases are different. These verbs are not the same in the two languages. This is even more true with respect english. As examples:

  • The piedm. verb neuse that means to be bad (for), to be dangerous (for) is transitive. The corresponding italian verb nuocere is intransitive, as for the english form. So we have:
    L'alcol a neus ël fidich = L'alcool nuoce al fegato = alcohol is bad for liver.
  • The piedm. verb rus, when transitive means to scold.
    He will scold you = chil at rusr
  • The piedm. verb rus, when intransitive means to quarrel, to wrangle.
    A stasio rusand = They were wrangling
The italian equivalent of rus is litigare, having the meaning of to quarrel, to wrangle. Sometimes in italian this verb assumes a transitive form, but always with the same meaning, and the direct object is what the subjects are wrangling about. This construction does not exist in piedmontese, if not as an italianism.


In piedmontese is often osed the preposition dë (ëd) corresponding to of for the partitive genitive, in cases that are direct objects in italian. In this sense the use is similar to the french one. For example:
To have pieces of information -(ital)--> avere informazioni -(piedm.)--> avj d'informassion.
To ask for information -(ital)--> chiedere informazioni -(piedm.)--> ciam d'informassion.
I have seen other places -(ital)--> ho visto altri posti -(piedm.)--> i l'hai vëddu d'autri leu.
To play organ -(ital)--> suonare l'organo -(piedm.)--> son dl'rgo.
About this last example we note that it is also correct "son l'rgo" without the partitive, and that the partitive form is more used for indicating an habitual action than the action of the moment.
Then the partitive is alwais used in expressions like: (very) much [something], that in piedmontese sounds always like (very) much of [something]. The construction is the same of the french. For example:
Much bread -(ital)--> molto pane -(piedm.)--> motobin ëd pan. -(french.)--> beaucoup de pain.
Many apples -(ital)--> molte mele -(piedm.)--> motobin ëd pom. -(french.)--> beaucoup de pommes.

Complements of place

We have to note some particulatities. The first is not relate to a particular structure but to two particular places, that are Ast and Alba. The preposition an (meaning: in) is always used for standing, going to, coming from in the following way:
I am in Ast (Alba) = Mi i son an Ast (Alba).
I go to Ast (Alba) = Mi i vado an Ast (Alba) (as it were: I go in Ast).
I come from Ast (Alba) = Mi i ven-o da 'n Ast (Alba) (as it were: I come from in Ast).
All the other places, whose name starts by "A", do not have this behaviour.
Then we note the two adverbs of place da 'd s = on this side, here and da 'd l = on the other side, there, that are constructed with a double preposition, and literally they are respectively: from of here, from of there. They are a place indication, and do not have, by themselves, an idea of motion.
We last consider the expression of motion from a not specified place like:
They come from other places = Lor a rivo da d'utri pst (as it were: They come from ofother places). This can be considered a partitive inside a complement of motion from place.

Particular piedmontese constructions

We note the following constructions, that are piedmontese even if not all are commonly used, that are different from italian, french, english constructions:
  • A l'ha gnun amis an cusa a s spatuss = He has no friends in reason to his arrogance = He has no friends due to his arrogance.
    The expression due to, that in italian is a causa di or a ragione di, in piedmontese is an cusa a.
  • I son ancamin che i lo faso = I am in-path (on the way) that I do it = I am doing it.
    The continuous tense, in piedmontese is expressed in this way (and this construction is the most commonly used). Another construction that is also used is similar to the italian one:
    I lo stago fasend = I stay doing it.
    Then there is a not so much used, but truly piedmontese expression which is:
    I lo ten-o fit = I keep it done.
  • A parla su chil coma se a fussa un gadan = He speaks on him as if he were a stupid = He speaks about him as if he were a stupid
  • Then a construction that is different from italian, but it is similar to the english one:
    A fussa mach d chil i saro mal ciap = If it were of him we would be in a bad situation (If it were up to him we....).
    Piedmontese and english can use the preposition d = of in the same way, while in italian the preposition used is per = for.

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