Language of the week: Friulian

This week’s language is from Europe: Friulian (Furlan in Friulian). It’s a Romance language, spoken in North-eastern Italy (the north-easternmost corner). It has about 600,000 speakers according to wikipedia, although who knows where that figure came from.* Romance subgrouping and dialectology is a real mess, in an interesting and complicated way, but Friulian is a mass of different varieties, also related to Rumansch and Ladin. Speaking of Ladin (although maybe I should save this for when we get to l in language of the week), there’s a fantastic online dialect atlas for Ladin here. It’s gorgeous – complete with sound files and maps and everything.

Friulian has been attested for about 900 years now. There’s a Swadesh list here.

Some other resources, in no particular order:

Of all the languages of the week so far, Furlan/Friulian is the first with obviously more content in the language than in another language about it. My sampling is biased because I tend to look for sites in English (since they are going to be more useful to my readers, I assume), but even allowing for that it was obvious that the web presence of Furlan is mostly created in Furlan, presumably for Furlan speakers. That’s a healthy sign.

* Probably from, a site I refuse to link to because of its name. I sepdn enough time counteracting the idea that language description is putting languages in museums without encouraging a site of this name.


One response to “Language of the week: Friulian

  1. While it is true that Romance is mostly (or rather was, until comparatively recently) a dialect continuum, Friulian is a variety which is easily defined vis-a-vis its Venetian neighbor to the South (obviously, with non-Romance German and Slovenian there are no such problems): the isogloss separating complete loss of post-tonic vowels other than /a/ (Friulian) from their preservation (Venetian).

    You and your readers may also be interested in knowing that one of the earliest known texts in Friulian is a piece of erotic poetry (and you thought medieval poetry was just boring religious propaganda!), and that its similarity to Old French made a native speaker translate the Strasburg Oaths (the earliest French, and indeed Romance, written text) into it.

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