An Introduction to the Molisan Language

This is an introduction to the language of the Italian region of Molise. Molisan is currently classified by the ISO and Ethnologue as a dialect of Neapolitan. It can be divided into two major groups: Eastern (Campobassan or Cambuašàn), and Western (Isernian or Mundagnuòl). Both varieties share a common grammar, lexicon, and morphology. All differences between the two are phonological. However they are entirely mutually intelligible and the phonological shifts are completely predictable. Therefore, a common orthography has been developed.

This wikibook uses the Campobassan variety for most examples and readings, although it attempts to provide alternative explanations and pronunciations where applicable. For example, the possessive pronouns my, thy, and his/her/its, are written as mìj, tìj, and sìj, respectively. However, their pronunciation lies on a continuum between mìj, tìj, sìj; and méj, téj, séj; varying not only between East and West but also between specific towns and even within families. These differences and others shall be discussed at length as they arise.

Outline and Goals

This book will aim, initially, to provide an introduction to the basic grammatical, morphological, and other linguistic features of the Molisan language. In time, it will hopefully grow into a fully comprehensive resource about all aspects of the language, with the aim of furnishing information to government agencies (such as cultural ministries and school commissions) and non-governmental organisations (such as Ethnologue and the ISO).

To this end, it will include vocabulary and verb conjugations (especially showing comparisons with Italian and Neapolitan). Additionally, it will serve as a primer in proper orthography and form for those who already speak the language or were born with it but wish to gain further insight. It will not, however, contain lessons or learning materials for non-speakers. These will form another book entirely.

An additional goal of the project is to establish a unified orthography for the dialect(s) or language(s) of Molise, and, eventually, to solidify a literary language on par with Sicilian, Neapolitan, and even Italian. It is hoped that, once a set of standards have emerged, efforts can be undertaken to save the Molisan language through cultural programs and education.


For Editors