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Algherese dialect

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Title: Algherese dialect  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Catalan dialects, Catalan language, Valencian, Triestine dialect, Brigasc dialect
Collection: Alghero, Catalan Dialects, Endangered Diaspora Languages, Languages of Sardinia, Province of Sassari
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Algherese dialect

Algherese (Standard Catalan: Alguerès, IPA: ; Algherese: Alguerés, IPA: ) is the variant of the Catalan language spoken in the city of Alghero (L'Alguer in Catalan), in the northwest of Sardinia, Italy. Catalan-speaking colonists repopulated the town and expelled the mixed population (Sardinians, Ligurians, Corsicans and Tuscans) in 1372, after several revolts.[1]

Catalan was replaced as the official language by Spanish, then by Italian in the mid 18th century, but its use remained widespread until at least the 1960s. Today it has semi-official status alongside Italian.[2]

According to recent linguistic research, 22.4% of the population in Alghero speak the language natively and above 90% have some knowledge of the language.[3]


  • Differences from Standard Catalan 1
  • Literature 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4
  • Further reading 5

Differences from Standard Catalan

A satellite photo of Sardinia with the location of the Algherese-speaking area in yellow

The Algherese variant is classified in the Eastern Catalan block, but it has many differences from Central Catalan. Some of the most obvious:

  • Like in other languages of Sardinia /ɛ/ and /e/, and /ɔ/ and /o/ may merge into mid vowels [] and [], respectively.
  • Coalescing of unstressed vowels /a/, /ɛ/ and /e/ to [a] (unlike the rest of Eastern Catalan that uses [ə]).
  • Algherese preserves /v/ as a distinct phoneme from /b/, like Balearic and most of Valencian.
  • Mutation of intervocalic /d/ or /l/ to [r]; e.g. 'Barceloneta' (little Barcelona): Eastern Standard [bərsəɫuˈnɛtə], Algherese [balsaruˈne̞ta]; and vila ('town') and vida ('life') are homophones in Algherese [ˈvira].
  • Mutation of syllable final /r/ to lateral [l], and the possible resulting group /r/ + consonant is further simplified to [l]; e.g. forn ('furnace, oven'): Standard [ˈfo̞rn], Algherese [ˈfo̞l].
  • Depalatalization of syllable final sonorants: lateral /ʎ/ to [l], nasal /ɲ/ to [n]; e.g. any ('year'): Standard [ˈaɲ], Algherese [ˈan].
  • Unlike most Catalan dialects, /l/ is never velarized in Algherese; e.g. sol ('sun'): Standard [ˈsɔɫ], Algherese [ˈso̞l].
  • Simple past has been replaced by present perfect (present of haver "to have" + past participle), possibly due to Italian influence.
  • Imperfect past preserves etymological -v- in all the conjugations: 1st -ava, 2nd -iva, 3rd -iva (unlike modern eastern and western standard Catalan which has 1st -ava, 2nd -ia, 3rd -ia) (a feature shared with Ribagorçan Catalan).
  • Large-scale lexical borrowing and calques from Sardinian, Spanish, and Italian.


Poster for the Premi Rafael Sari 2008

The Premi Rafael Sari—organised by the Obra Cultural de l'Alguer [4]—is a series of prizes awarded in September each year to the best literary works of poetry and prose written in Alguerese Catalan. Notable poets include Rafael Sari, Pasquale Scanu and Maria Chessa Lai. There is also a long tradition of writing and performing songs in Alguerese Catalan and the Premio Pino Piras[5] is awarded for new songs written in the language. Notable singer-songwriters include Pino Piras and Franca Masu.


  1. ^ L'Alguer and Alguerese Catalan - Oral Corpus of Alguerese
  2. ^ Alghero official website
  3. ^ Linguistic data from Generalitat de Catalunya
  4. ^ l'Obra Cultural de l'Alguer
  5. ^ il Premio Pino Piras

External links

  • Diccionari de Alguerés
  • Another case of language death? The intergenerational transmission of Catalan in Alghero - Enrico Chessa
  • Associació per a la Salvaguarda del Patrimoni Historicocultural de l'Alguer

Further reading

  • Sanna, Josep. 1988. Diccionari català de l'Alguer. ISBN 84-7129-391-9 [2]
  • SCALA LUCA. 2003. Català de l'Alguer. Criteris de llengua escrita. Publicacions de l'Abadia de Montserrat. ISBN 978-84-8415-463-1
Monument to the unitat de la llengua in Alghero
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