Neapolitan language resources
Neapolitan is spoken on a daily basis in: Italy
Additional background on
Neapolitan (autonym: nnapulitano; Italian: napoletano) is a Romance language spoken in the city and region of Naples, Campania (Neapolitan: Nàpule, Italian: Napoli), as well as throughout most of southern Italy including the Gaeta and Sora districts of southern Lazio, most of Molise, Basilicata, northern Calabria, and northern and central Apulia. As of 1976, there were 7,047,399 native speakers (some recent estimates range as high as 7,800,000). For geographical, historical, and political reasons, "Neapolitan" is the name given to the Italiano meridionale-interno group of dialects in southern Italy, historically united around Naples during the reigns of the Kingdom of Naples and the Two Sicilies. The many varieties of this language group include Neapolitan proper (spoken in the center city of Naples), Irpino, Cilentano, Laziale Meridionale, Molisano, Dauno-Appenninico, Garganico, Apulo-Barese, Lucano Nord-Occidentale, Lucano Nord-Orientale, Lucano Centrale, Area Arcaica Lucano-Calabrese, and Calabrese Settentrionale. The language as a whole has often fallen victim of its status as a "language without prestige".
It is generally considered a western Romance language, although some postulate a southern Romance classification. There are some differences among the various dialects, but they are all mutually intelligible with Naples as the locus. Italian and Neapolitan are not wholly mutually comprehensible though with notable grammatical differences such as nouns in the neuter form and unique plural formation. Its evolution has been similar to that of Italian and other Romance languages from their roots in Vulgar Latin. It has also developed with a pre-Latin Oscan influence, which is noticeable in the pronunciation of the d sound as an r sound (rhotacism), but only when "d" is at the beginning of a word, or between two vowels (eg.- "doje" or "duje" (two, respectively feminine and masculine form), pronounced, and often spelled, as "roje"/"ruje", vedé (to see), pronounced as "veré", and often spelled so, same for cadé/caré (to fall), and Madonna/Maronna). Some think that the rhotacism is a more recent phenomenon, though. Other Oscan influence (more likely than the previous one) is considered the pronunciation of the group of consonants "nd" (of Latin) as "nn" (this generally is reflected in spelling more consistently) (eg.- "munno" (world, compare to Italian "mondo"), "quanno" (when, compare to Italian "quando"), etc.), and the pronunciation of the group of consonants "mb" (of Latin) as "mm" (eg.- tammuro (drum), cfr. Italian tamburo), also consistently reflected in spelling. Other effects of the Oscan substratum are postulated too. It must also be noted that Naples was a Greek speaking town up to the Ninth Century, and Greek also has affected the Neapolitan language. There have never been any successful attempts to standardize the language (eg.- consulting three different dictionaries, one finds three different spellings for the word for tree, arbero, arvero and àvaro).
Neapolitan has enjoyed a rich literary, musical and theatrical history (notably Giambattista Basile, Eduardo de Filippo, Salvatore di Giacomo and Totò).
The language has no legal status within Italy and thus may not be taught in state run schools. Efforts are being made to change this, including a bid in 2003 to have a Neapolitan curriculum offered at the Università Federico II in Naples. This attempt was defeated with the comment that Neapolitan was a "low-class" language. There are also ongoing legislative attempts at the national level to have it recognized as an official minority language of Italy. It is however an officially recognized ISO 639 Joint Advisory Committee language with the language code of NAP.
For comparison, The Lord's Prayer is here reproduced in the Neapolitan spoken in Naples and northern Calabria in contrast with the Sicilian variety of southern Calabrese, Italian and Latin.
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All data is derived from UNESCO.