Genoese dialect

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Native toItaly
RegionGenoa, Liguria
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguasphere51-AAA-ohd ... -ojb
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Genoese (locally called zeneize in the local language) is the main dialect of the Ligurian language, spoken in Genoa (the principal city of Liguria in Northern Italy).

Ligurian, like the languages of Lombardy, Piedmont, and surrounding regions, is listed by Ethnologue as a language in its own right, of the Romance Gallo-Italic branch (not to be confused with the ancient Ligurian language). Ligurian is far from dying out:[citation needed] while most remaining speakers of it are elderly, many young people still speak the language, and there are several associations dedicated to keeping the language alive, such as O Castello in Chiavari and A Compagna in Genoa.

Written literature has been produced in Genoese since the 13th century, but the spelling has never been completely regularized. However, since 2008, there is an official orthography set up by the Académia Ligùstica do Brénno, which attempts to put its script in order based on citizen speech of the Portoria area. Their rules[2] are useful to write in all Ligurian language varieties.

Genoese has had an influence on the Llanito vernacular of Gibraltar.

Tongue twisters[edit]

  • Mi sò asæ s'a sâ a sä asæ pe sâ a säsissa. = I don't have a clue whether the salt is going to be enough to salt the sausage.
  • Sciâ scîe scignôa, sciando Sciâ xêua in scî scî. = Ski, madam, skying you fly on skis.
  • A-o mêu nêuo gh'é nêue nâe nêue; a ciù nêua de nêue nâe nêue a n'êu anâ. = At the new pier there are nine new ships; the newest of the nine new ships doesn't want to go.
  • Gi'àngiai g'han gi'oggi gi'uegge gi'unge cume gi'atri? = Do angels have eyes, ears, and (finger)nails like everyone else? (variant of the Cogorno comune)


  • Son zeneize, rîzo ræo, strénzo i dénti e parlo ciæo. = "I'm Genoese, I seldom laugh, I grind my teeth, and I say what I mean" (literally, "speak clearly").
  • The child complains: Ò famme. = I'm hungry. The mother answers: Gràttite e zenogge e fatte e lasagne. = Scratch your knees and make lasagna.
  • Chi vêu vîve da bon crestiàn, da-i begghìn o stagghe lontàn. = If you want to live as a good Christian, stay away from those who pretend to be devout; a traditional warning to beware of fanatics and hypocrites.
  • No se peu sciusciâ e sciorbî . = You can't have or do two contradicting things at the same time (literally, "you can't inhale and exhale").
  • Belìn! = Wow! or Damn! (very informal) (literally the word means "penis", but it lost its obscene meaning and is currently used as an intensifier in a lot of different expressions).


Genoese phonology includes a number of similarities with French, one being the heavily nasalized vowels before nasal consonants (in VN(C) sequences), also occurring when Genoese speakers speak standard Italian. There used to be an alveolar approximant (English-like) /ɹ/ opposed to an alveolar trill /r/ (using the 18th century spelling: caro [ˈkaːɹu] "dear" vs. carro [ˈkaːru] "cart"), but it is no longer heard in the city. It may still survive in some rural areas of Liguria, such as Calizzano and Sassello.[3] By far the most widespread type of /r/ today is the alveolar tap [ɾ] (very similar, ir identical, to unstressed Standard Italian /r/). There are several distinctive local accents of Genoese: those of Nervi, Quinto and Quarto to the east of Genoa, Voltri, Prà, Pegli and Sestri to the west. There are also accents of the central Polcevera Valley and Bisagno.

Genoese has eight vowels, twenty consonants, and three semivowels.



  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Genoese". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Audio samples may be heard here.

External links[edit]