Family: Emiliano-Romagnolo

Comments on subclassification

Friedrich Schürr 1933

Retired in ISO 639-3: Split into Emilian [egl] and Romagnol [rgn]

  • Change request: 2008-040
  • ISO 639-3: eml
  • Name: Emiliano-Romagnolo
  • Reason: split
  • Effective: 2009-01-16

Excerpt from change request document:

The name Emilia-Romagna can be very confusing. I would like to explain why I think the term Emilia-Romagna is misleading when referring to regional culture which includes aspects such as language, customs, and cuisine, and should only be referred to for geopolitical reasons.

Two ISO 639 codes, one for Emilia and one for Romagna would be much clearer when referring to the cultural aspects of both regions.

The sole reason why this code exists is because in 1948 with the inception of the Italian Constitution, the Region of Emilia-Romagna was created. This name never previously existed in Italian history. Emilia and Romagna had been two different regions of Italy in the past.

From 1815 to 1866 two historical regions of Italy, Lombardia and Veneto, were merged to create the Lombardian-Venetian Kingdom. Nevertheless, nobody referred to Milan nor Venice as Lombardian-Venetian cities, Milan still remained a Lombardian city , and Venice remained a Venetian city. The same holds true for Emilia-Romagna. Bologna is an Emilian city while Ravenna is a Romagnol city. The term “Emiliano-Romagnolo” makes sense only if looking at the political region of Italy called “Emilia-Romagna”.

Moreover, there is Emilian cuisine and Romagnol cuisine. There isn’t an Emilia-Romagnian cuisine in Italy. The “Romagnol Riviera”, and not the “Emilia-Romagna Riviera”, is the famous tourist area along the Northern Adriatic Sea.

There is an Emilian dialect and a Romagnol dialect. There isn’t such a thing as an Emilian- Romagnolo dialect. A counter-factual example: if in 1948 two regions had been created, Emilia and Romagna, no one could have ever imagined the existence of an Emilia- Romagnol language!

Nowadays, Italy is seeing a revival of dialects, after a period over the last 40 years when regional dialects couldn't be spoken on national TV or radio. Many cultural institutes were established to keep dialects alive in both Emilia and Romagna. For example, in Romagna the Istituto F. Schurr was founded in 1996 and it's still involved with the conservation of Romagna's dialect as an important part of the region’s heritage.

Here is a brief history of the “Emilia” and “Romagna” names. Before 1948 there weren't geopolitical regions in Italy. There were about 90 provinces, and Emilia and Romagna were two clearly distinctive regions. Before the unification of Italy in 1861, one could find on a map only the name Romagna, or “Romagne”, the Italian plural of Romagna. The name Emilia, instead, did not appear. Instead of Emilia one could find the “dukedom of Ferrara”, the “dukedom of Modena and Reggio”, and other dukedoms. Historically and culturally, Emilia and Romagna were formed many centuries before the creation of this geopolitical region. People from these regions have the feeling of being "Romagnol" or "Emilian". It is very evident to anyone who is from either of these two regions. I know, for example, that I'm Romagnol, an inhabitant of Romagna, as well as any Bolognese citizen knows she/he's Emilian.

Allow me to present some points of consideration:

1) Let's pretend that Emilians are 90% of population of Emilia-Romagna and Romagnols are only the 10%. So one could think that Romagnols could be considered just an appendix of the Region.

Reply: There are 1 million Romagnols in a region of 4 million people.

Principle Romagnol towns include Ravenna, with a population of 150,000 people, Rimini, with 135,000, Forlì, with 115,000, and Cesena with 95,000.

2) Some may consider definitive evidence of the existence of Emilian-Romagnol language as having an Italo-Emilian-Romagnol dictionary.

Reply: There has never been such a dictionary. We have dictionaries of Romagnolo- Italiano and Bolognese-Italiano, or Modenese-Italiano (Modenese is the dialect of Modena, the second biggest town of Emilia).

3) Could the definitive evidence of the existence of Emilian-Romagnol language be the mutual intelligibility?

No, because there is not mutual intelligibility. There are certain features in the Romagnol dialect which differ greatly from the Emilian dialect; for they can be classified as two distinct dialects. These dialectical differences are very evident to a linguist.

An example: atonic vocalism.

Some words that in Latin were trisyllabic or quadrisyllabic (where the 'u' final is atonic) are reduced in Romagnol to monosyllable. The atonic syllable is cut off.

Latin GENUCULU becomes in Romagnol ZNÒC Latin TEPIDU becomes in Romagnol TEVVD Latin OCULU becomes in Romagnol ÒC

Latin FRIGIDU becomes in Romagnol FRÉDD

(Italian: ginocchio (Italian: tiepido) (Italian: occhio) (Italian: freddo)

This didn't happen in Emilia: that's why an Emilian speaker is not used to hearing words with atonic vowels removed. Emilians don't understand Romagnol. On the contrary, every Romagnol “feels” Emilian dialects as very similar to Italian (because Italian is full of vowels).

4) Emilian and Romagnol do not share a common literature. Romagnol literature begins in the late XVI century with Pvlon matt. There is critical edition of the poem in English, translated by British linguist Douglas Bartlett Gregor. This is the card of the book:

Mad Nap ("Pvlon Matt"): An anonymous Romagnol poem of the sixteenth century translated into English verse and Italian prose, and annotated / D. B. Gregor. - Cambridge: The Oleander Press, c1976. - 237 p.

Pvlon Matt was reviewed also by Friedrich Schürr (1888-1980), an eminent linguist who first acknowledged Romagnol as a romance language.

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