In several questions and answers it looks like a precise distinction between North and South of Italy is given when it comes to the use of words and expressions. For instance, in some cases one tends to stress that a certain word is mainly used in the South or that people would use a different word in the North.

In my humble opinion, this is misleading, to say the least. The languages of Italy are many and are all horizontally worth of notice (they are all romance derivations and are not the result of an offspring process from Italian).

Indicating a clear division between North and South exists is very incorrect, we should talk about "zones/regions" where a certain word is more frequent. There are clearly borrowings among all these languages, and there are also neat similarities, but I'd avoid giving the idea that North and South are linguistically distinguishable as collapsed zones. The distinctions happens at a deeper, regional level.

In numerose domande e risposte si traccia una divisione precisa tra Nord e Sud del paese in quanto a uso di certe parole ed espressioni. Per esempio, in alcuni casi si tende ad enfatizzare che una tale parola si usa più al Sud e che al Nord se ne userebbe un'altra.

Secondo me questo è fuorviante. Le lingue d'Italia sono varie e sono tutte orizzontalmente degne di nota (sono tutte derivazioni neolatine e non il prodotto di un processo verticale dall'italiano). Indicare una netta divisione tra Nord e Sud è impreciso, dovremmo piuttosto parlare di "zone" o "regioni" in cui una certa parola è più frequente. Chiaramente ci sono prestiti tra tutte queste lingue e anche parecchie somiglianze, ma eviterei di far passare l'idea che Nord e Sud siano linguisticamente distinguibili in quanto macrozone. Le distinzioni avvengono a livello più sottile, regionale.

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    I can't see why this is a problem. Honestly, as a person from the South, i can mostly understand words from dialects of Sicily or Puglia, but I would have no clue of words in Veneziano or Milanese. At least in the south, there are recognisable similarities between the dialects, even though there are, for sure, many differences.
    – funforums
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 14:15
  • La questione dei dialetti in Italia è molto complessa, io, p.e., pur provenendo dal Nord non riesco a capire tutti i dialetti che lì si parlano, per cui non condivido quanto affermato, anche se non credo ciò costituisca un problema, però in certi casi non sempre è possibile fare dei distinguo. Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 21:42
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    @ElberichSchneider Forse mi sono espressa male, visto che stiamo dicendo la stessa cosa. Il mio punto è che è imprecisa una distinzione Nord/Sud visto che le differenze sono a livello più basso, di regione, non di macrozona. Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 20:24
  • «The languages of Italy are many» The dialects of Italy are many. Commented May 7, 2016 at 15:38
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    @AndreaLazzarotto Technically they are neo-latin languages, horizontally related to Standard Italian and not his children. Commented May 7, 2016 at 18:19
  • Still, what you are referring to are dialects. This is more of a political issue recently, where many (including some weirdos from my region, Veneto, called indipendentisti) require that we call everything "lingua" while it should be "dialetto". The languages of Italy are not many: mainly Italian, French and German (but some are only recognized in parts of the nation). Commented May 7, 2016 at 18:51
  • @AndreaLazzarotto I can assure you that Martina is correct; a dialect is but a full-fledged language that has been superseded as main language of a region by another considered more "illustrious" because of various reasons (usually political and military)
    – user2750
    Commented Aug 28, 2016 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


I too do not like ovesimplifications, or spurious distinctions, but at least one accepted distinction does exist: the La Spezia-Rimini line (or isoglossa Rimini-La Spezia), which is a kind of rather natural demarcation between different families of Romance languages.

  • Really interesting! But is there any dialect from the North of Italy that makes the plural of nouns based on the Latin accusative case, that is, plurals ending on "s"?
    – Charo Mod
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 11:00
  • @Charo Interesting question, but not all Latin declension for all cases ended in -s for the accusative and anyway the -s was just one part of the case suffix. Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 19:13

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