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Bolognese dialect

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Title: Bolognese dialect  
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Subject: Emilian dialect, Romance languages, Bologna, Florentine dialect, Languedocien dialect
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Bolognese dialect

Pronunciation [bulˈɲaiz]
Native to Italy
Native speakers
(no estimate available)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Bolognese (in Bolognese: bulgnaiś ) is a dialect of the Emiliano language, spoken in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and along the border of Tuscany to the south.


Although the term dialetto is commonly used in reference to all minority languages native to modern-day Italy, the majority of these languages are not mutually intelligible with Standard Italian and have developed independently from Vulgar Latin. Bolognese is no exception and is therefore a dialect of the Emiliano-Romagnolo language, not the Italian language.


Bolognese is a dialect of Emiliano-Romagnolo, one of the Gallo-Italic languages of the Romance family. It shares many common features with other Gallo-Italic languages such as Piedmontese, Lombard, Venetian, and Ligurian. Bolognese is closer to these languages than it is to Italian.


"… I say, then, that perhaps those are not wrong who claim that the Bolognese speak a more beautiful language than most, especially since they take many features of their own speech from that of the people who live around them, in Imola, Ferrara and Modena I believe that everybody does this with respect to his own neighbours. […] So the above-­mentioned citizens of Bologna take a soft, yielding quality from those of Imola, and from the people of Ferrara and Modena, on the other hand, a certain abruptness which is more typical of the Lombards. […] If, then, the Bolognese take from all sides, as I have said, it seems reasonable to suggest that their language, tempered by the combination of opposites mentioned above, should achieve a praiseworthy degree of elegance; and this, in my opinion, is beyond doubt true. "
(Dante Alighieri, De Vulgari Eloquentia - Liber I, xv, 2-5)

Middle Ages

Bolognese evolved a group of Gallo-Romance idioms, sharing features with neighboring northern Italian languages. It developed then, more distinctly into the Middle Ages as a sub-member of the Emiliano-Romagnolo language. During the high Middle Ages, A number of troubadours composing lyrical poetry were active in Bologna, especially during the 13th century. This served to raise cultural awareness to the possibility of composing songs, poems, and other works in vernacular neo-Latin languages. One of the first references to Bolognese as a distinct idiom was made by Dante Alighieri in his De Vulgari Eloquentia written in the beginning of the 14th century.

Modern history

During the a boom of interest in linguistic diversity during the 19th century, a number of efforts were made to create vocabularies, grammars, and collections of axioms, folk tales, and literature. The first dictionary was compiled in 1901 by Gaspare Ungarelli, who also attempted to create a writing system using the Italian alphabet. A period of stigmatization followed in the 20th century, where children were punished for speaking the dialect in school. It was considered to be a sign of uneducation and poor etiquette.

In 1964, Alberto Menarini proposed a writing system utilizing many of the same letters used to day. In recent times, Bolognese has enjoyed a period of rejuvenation and has become the



Some prominent features of Bolognese phonology are:

  • Central vowels
  • A phonemic distinction between short vowels and corresponding diphthongs.
  • Nucleus vowel and coda consonant length have an inverse relationship
  • The realization of labio-alveolar consonants
  • Syncopation resulting in complex consonant clusters
  • Frequent slacking of word-final voiceless obstruents
  • A more exaggerated intonation in comparison with Italian

The phonemes of Bolognese are realized phonetically very differently depending on the area in or around Bologna. Significant free variation occurs in words due to complex phonological processes.

Consonant phonemes

Bolognese has 22 consonant phonemes.

Consonant phonemes of Bolognese
Bilabial Labio-
Dental Alveolar Labio-
Palatal Velar Labio-
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ
voiced d͡ʒ
Fricative voiceless f θ s
voiced v ð z
Approximant central r j w
lateral l
Trill r



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