Istrian dialect

The Istrian dialect (istrsko narečje,[1] istrščina[2]) is a Slovene dialect in the Littoral dialect group. It is spoken in Slovenian Istria in most of the rural areas of the municipalities of Koper, Izola and Piran, as well as by the Slovenes living in the Italian municipalities of Muggia and San Dorligo della Valle, as well as in the southern suburbs of Trieste (Servola, Cattinara).[3]

Phonological and morphological characteristics

The Istrian dialect does not have pitch accent and is non-diphthongal. Long a is rounded to ɔ, fronted a is common, including as a reflex of e and original ə, and syllabic l has developed into u. The dialect has soft ľ, soft ń, ć, and šć. The dialect has lost the dual morphologically. The conditional is made with the auxiliary bin. The dialect has been influenced by Croatian as spoken in Buzet and Ćićarija. The dialect is further subdivided into the Rižana and Šavrini Hills subdialects.[3]


  1. ^ Smole, Vera. 1998. "Slovenska narečja." Enciklopedija Slovenije vol. 12, pp. 1–5. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, p. 2.
  2. ^ Rigler, Jakob. 2001. Zbrani spisi: Jezikovnozgodovinske in dialektološke razprave. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, p. 232.
  3. ^ a b Toporišič, Jože. 1992. Enciklopedija slovenskega jezika. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, pp. 63, 257, 321.

The term dialect (from Latin dialectus, dialectos, from the Ancient Greek word διάλεκτος, diálektos, "discourse", from διά, diá, "through" and λέγω, légō, "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of linguistic phenomena:

One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. Under this definition, the dialects or varieties of a particular language are closely related and, despite their differences, are most often largely mutually intelligible, especially if close to one another on the dialect continuum. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class or ethnicity. A dialect that is associated with a particular social class can be termed a sociolect, a dialect that is associated with a particular ethnic group can be termed an ethnolect, and a geographical/regional dialect may be termed a regiolect (alternative terms include 'regionalect', 'geolect', and 'topolect'). According to this definition, any variety of a given language constitutes "a dialect", including any standard varieties. In this case, the distinction between the "standard language" (i.e. the "standard" dialect of a particular language) and the "nonstandard" dialects of the same language is often arbitrary and based on social, political, cultural, or historical considerations. In a similar way, the definitions of the terms "language" and "dialect" may overlap and are often subject to debate, with the differentiation between the two classifications often grounded in arbitrary and/or sociopolitical motives.

The other usage of the term "dialect", often deployed in colloquial settings, refers (often somewhat pejoratively) to a language that is socially subordinated to a regional or national standard language, often historically cognate or genetically related to the standard language, but not actually derived from the standard language. In other words, it is not an actual variety of the "standard language" or dominant language, but rather a separate, independently evolved but often distantly related language. In this sense, unlike in the first usage, the standard language would not itself be considered a "dialect", as it is the dominant language in a particular state or region, whether in terms of linguistic prestige, social or political status, official status, predominance or prevalence, or all of the above. Meanwhile, under this usage, the "dialects" subordinate to the standard language are generally not variations on the standard language but rather separate (but often loosely related) languages in and of themselves. Thus, these "dialects" are not dialects or varieties of a particular language in the same sense as in the first usage; though they may share roots in the same family or subfamily as the standard language and may even, to varying degrees, share some mutual intelligibility with the standard language, they often did not evolve closely with the standard language or within the same linguistic subgroup or speech community as the standard language and instead may better fit various parties’ criteria for a separate language.For example, most of the various regional Romance languages of Italy, often colloquially referred to as Italian "dialects", are, in fact, not actually derived from modern standard Italian, but rather evolved from Vulgar Latin separately and individually from one another and independently of standard Italian, long prior to the diffusion of a national standardized language throughout what is now Italy. These various Latin-derived regional languages are, therefore, in a linguistic sense, not truly "dialects" or varieties of the standard Italian language, but are instead better defined as their own separate languages. Conversely, with the spread of standard Italian throughout Italy in the 20th century, regional versions or varieties of standard Italian have developed, generally as a mix of national standard Italian with a substratum of local regional languages and local accents. While "dialect" levelling has increased the number of standard Italian speakers and decreased the number of speakers of other languages native to Italy, Italians in different regions have developed variations of standard Italian particular to their region. These variations on standard Italian, known as regional Italian, would thus more appropriately be called "dialects" in accordance with the first linguistic definition of "dialect", as they are in fact derived partially or mostly from standard Italian.A dialect is distinguished by its vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation (phonology, including prosody). Where a distinction can be made only in terms of pronunciation (including prosody, or just prosody itself), the term accent may be preferred over dialect. Other types of speech varieties include jargons, which are characterized by differences in lexicon (vocabulary); slang; patois; pidgins; and argots. The particular speech patterns used by an individual are termed an idiolect.


The islands of Ilovik (Italian: Asinello) and Sveti Petar (Italian: San Pietro) are located in Croatia south of the island Lošinj (Lussino), separated by the Strait of Ilovik (Croatian: Ilovačka vrata).

Istriot language

Istriot is a Romance language spoken by about 400 people in the southwestern part of the Istrian peninsula in Croatia, particularly in Rovinj and Vodnjan. It should not be confused with the Istrian dialect of the Venetian language.

Languages of Italy

There are approximately thirty-four native living spoken languages and related dialects in Italy, most of which are indigenous evolutions of Vulgar Latin, and are therefore classified as Romance languages. Although they are sometimes referred to as regional languages, there is no uniformity within any Italian region, and speakers from one locale within a region are typically aware of the features distinguishing their local tongue from the one of other places nearby. The official and most widely spoken language across the country is Italian, a direct descendant of Tuscan.

Almost all the Romance languages native to Italy, with the notable exception of Italian, are often colloquially referred to as "dialects", although for some of them the term may coexist with other labels like "minority languages" or "vernaculars". However, the use of the term "dialect" to refer to the languages of Italy may erroneously imply that these native languages spoken in Italy are actual "dialects" of standard Italian in the prevailing linguistic sense of "varieties or variations of a language". This is not the case regarding the longstanding languages of Italy, as they are not varieties of standard Italian. Most of the local Romance languages of Italy predate Italian and evolved locally from Vulgar Latin, independently of what would become the standard national language, long before the fairly recent spread of Standard Italian throughout Italy. In fact, Italian itself can be thought of as either a continuation of, or a dialect heavily based on, Florentine Tuscan. The indigenous local Romance languages of Italy are therefore classified as separate languages that evolved from Latin mostly independently of Italian, rather than "dialects" or variations of it. Conversely, with the spread of Standard Italian throughout Italy in the 20th century, local varieties of Standard Italian have also developed throughout the peninsula, influenced to varying extents by the underlying local languages, most noticeably at the phonological level; though regional boundaries seldom correspond to isoglosses distinguishing these varieties, these variations on Standard Italian are commonly referred to as Regional Italian (italiano regionale).

Other Italian languages belong to other Indo-European branches, such as Cimbrian (Germanic), Arbëresh (Albanian), the Slavomolisano dialect of Serbo-Croatian (Slavic), and Griko (Hellenic). Other non-indigenous languages are spoken by a substantial percentage of the population due to immigration.

Littoral dialect group

The Littoral dialect group (primorska narečna skupina) is a group of very heterogeneous dialects of Slovene. The Littoral dialects are spoken in most of the Slovenian Littoral (except for the mountainous areas around Tolmin and Cerkno, where Rovte dialects are spoken) and in the western part of Inner Carniola. They are also spoken by Slovenes in the Italian provinces of Trieste and Gorizia, and in the mountainous areas of eastern Friuli (Venetian Slovenia and Resia).

Molise Croats

Molise Croats (Croatian: Moliški Hrvati) or Molise Slavs (Italian: Slavo-molisani, Slavi del Molise) are a Croat community in the Molise province of Campobasso of Italy, which constitutes the majority in the three villages of Acquaviva Collecroce (Kruč), San Felice del Molise (Štifilić) and Montemitro (Mundimitar). There are about 1,000 active and 2,000 passive speakers of the Slavomolisano dialect. The community originated from refugees fleeing from the Ottoman conquests in the late 15th and 16th centuries.


Nesactium (Istrian dialect: Vizače, Croatian: Nezakcij, Italian: Nesazio) was an ancient fortified town and hill fort of the Histri tribe. Its ruins are located in southern Istria, Croatia, between the villages of Muntić and Valtura.


Plavje (pronounced [ˈplaːu̯jɛ]; Italian: Plavia Monte d'Oro) is a village in the City Municipality of Koper in the Littoral region of Slovenia. It is located on the northernmost edge of the Istrian peninsula, on the border with Italy, on a small hill overlooking the Gulf of Trieste.It has a small border crossing with Italy, connecting it with the nearby village of Belpoggio in Noghere (Slovene: Beloglav), south of Trieste, which used to be a hamlet of Plavje (until 1954). Since Slovenia's accession to the European Union and the Schengen area, customs and immigration checks have been abolished at the Italian-Slovenian border.

Province of Trieste

The Province of Trieste (Italian: Provincia di Trieste, Slovene: Tržaška pokrajina; Friulian: provinzia di Triest) was a province in the autonomous Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Trieste.

It had an area of 212 square kilometres (82 sq mi) and a total population of 234,668 (as of June 2016). It had a coastal length of 48.1 kilometres (29.9 mi).

There were 6 communes in the province.

Rižana subdialect

The Rižana subdialect (rižanski govor) is a Slovene subdialect of the Istrian dialect in the Littoral dialect group. It is spoken in Italy in most of the municipalities of San Dorligo della Valle and Muggia (Milje) south of Trieste, as well as in some southern suburbs of Trieste (especially Servola); in Slovenia, it is spoken in the northern part of the Slovenian Istria, in the Rižana Valley east and north of Koper, including the settlements of Bertoki, Dekani, Osp, Črni Kal, Presnica, Podgorje, and Zazid.

San Dorligo della Valle

San Dorligo della Valle (Slovene: Dolina; Triestine: Dolina and San Dorligo) is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Trieste in the Italian region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located about 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) southeast of Trieste, on the border with Slovenia. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 6,019 and an area of 24.5 square kilometres (9.5 sq mi). According to the 1971 census, 70.5% of the population are ethnic Slovenes, while the rest are mostly Italians.

Slavomolisano dialect

Slavomolisano, also known as Molise Slavic or Molise Croatian, is a variety of Shtokavian Serbo-Croatian spoken by Italian Croats in the province of Campobasso, in the Molise Region of southern Italy, in the villages of Montemitro (Mundimitar), Acquaviva Collecroce (Živavoda Kruč) and San Felice del Molise (Štifilić). There are fewer than 1,000 active speakers, and fewer than 2,000 passive speakers.It has been preserved since a group of Croats emigrated from Dalmatia due to the advancing Ottoman Turks. The residents of these villages speak a Shtokavian dialect with an Ikavian accent, and a strong Southern Chakavian adstratum. The Molise Croats consider themselves to be Italians of South Slavic heritage who speak a Slavic language, rather than simply ethnic Slavs or Croats. Some speakers call themselves Zlavi or Harvati and call their language simply na našo ("our language").

Slovene Istria

Slovene Istria (Slovene: slovenska Istra, Italian: Istria slovena) is a region in southwest of Slovenia. It comprises the northern part of the Istrian peninsula, and it is part of the wider geographical-historical region known as the Slovene Littoral (Primorska). Its largest urban center is Koper. Other large settlements are Izola, Piran and Portorož. The whole region has around 120 settlements. In its coastal area, both the Slovene and Italian languages are official.

The Slovene Riviera (Slovenska obala in Slovene) is located in Slovene Istria; both terms are sometimes used interchangeably, especially in the media, although the Slovenian Istria includes a wider geographical area.

Slovene dialects

Slovene dialects (Slovene: slovenska narečja) are the regional spoken varieties of Slovene, a South Slavic language. Spoken Slovene is often considered to have at least 48 dialects (narečja) and subdialects (govori). The exact number of dialects is open to debate, ranging from as many as 50 to merely 7. The various dialects are so different from each other that a speaker of one dialect may have a very difficult time understanding a speaker of another, particularly if they belong to different regional groups. Speakers of dialects that strongly differ accommodate each other by gravitating toward standard Slovene. Slovene dialects are part of the South Slavic dialect continuum, transitioning into Croatian Kajkavian and Chakavian to the south and bordering Friulian and Italian to the west, German to the north, and Hungarian to the east.

Southwestern Istrian

Southwestern Istrian dialect (Croatian: Jugozapadni istarski dijalekt), also known as Chakavian-Shtokavian/Shtokavian-Chakavian/Shtakavian-Chakavian ikavian dialect (Croatian: čakavsko-štokavski/štokavsko-čakavski/štakavsko-čakavski ikavski dijalekt), is one of the subdialects of the Chakavian dialect in Istria, Croatia. Through the history there were different hypothesis which classified it, beside the Chakavian dialect, also to Shtokavian dialect, because it is a transitional dialect. It is the most widespread Chakavian subdialect in Istria.


Ćić (plural Ćići, Slovene: Čiči, German: Tschitschen, Italian: Cicci, Chicchi, Ciccio, Cici), is an ethnonym and exonym in a broader sense for all the people who live in the mountainous Ćićarija area in Croatia and Slovenia. Alongside the term Ćiribirci, in the narrow sense, it is an exonym referring to a community of the Istro-Romanians in the village Žejane in a small part of eastern Ćićarija and the villages around the former Lake Čepić west of the Učka range in Istria, Croatia.

Šavrini Hills subdialect

The Šavrini Hills subdialect (šavrinski govor, šavrinščina) is a Slovene subdialect of the Istrian dialect in the Littoral dialect group. It is spoken in the Šavrini Hills (Slovene: Šavrinsko gričevje) south of a line from Koper to south of Zazid. It includes the settlements of Koper, Izola, Portorož, Sečovlje, Šmarje, Sočerga, and Rakitovec.

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