Lesson 2: Sicilian ortography

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A treaties in Sicilian orthography does not exist.  Because of the strong influence of other languages, the Sicilian language has been in evolution, maybe, more than any other language. As a matter of fact after quite sometime of the last linguistic imposition, which was the Italian language, we have, what we can call, the first serious, and maybe the last up to now, attempt at establishing the rules for a Sicilian orthography.

These were done by Giorgio Piccitto and published in 1947.  This course will follow, in the majority of cases, G. Piccitto’s orthography rules.


Double Consonants  

Generally some consonants almost always have a strong sound, even if they are located at the beginning of the word; but if they double up in the pronunciation, they do not double up in the written language.  Such consonants are: b, c, d, g,, m, n, r, and z:

Bbabbu                      stupid

Bbeddu                      beautiful

Bbruttu                      ugly

            Dduppiu                     double

Ddoppu                      after

Dduttùri                     doctor

Ggìgghiu                    eye-lash

Ggià                            already

Ggiàrnu                      pale

Mmùrmuru                murmur

Mmerda                     escrement

Nnimìcu                     enemy

Nnomu                       name

Rrizza                         sea urchin

Rrota                         wheel

Zzappùni                    mattock

Zzappagghiùni           gnat



Ccà                             here

Cci                              to you, to them

Cchiù                          more

Ddocu                         there, next to you

Ddà                            there

are written with the same strong sound with which they are pronounced, that is with a double consonant.

The double consonant appears very often in the Sicilian written language as already seen in the above example and in the following:

Abbecceddàriu         first grade book

Abbannunàri              to abandon           

Famigghia                  family

Stràzziu                      torment                                   

Allammicàtu              hungry, empty-stomach

Sunnu                         they are

Nùmmaru                   number

Libbru            book


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By digraph is indicated the union of two letters forming one sound.  Some of these groups are :  gn, ch, gh, dr, tr

gn  has a nasal sound as in canyon:   ogni                 every

                                                          lignu                wood

ch  has a guttural sound as in  kill     cherubbìnu          cherub

                                                           chiovu             nail

gh  has a guttural sound as in ghetto  ghiàcciu          ice

                                                           ghicàri             to arrive

dr  has a palatal sound as in drift          droga              drug

                                                           dragu              dracon

tr  has a palatal sound as  tree              trenu               train

                                                           truccu              trick


Some digraph have a cacuminal sound, which means that the sound is made by the tongue reaching the top of the palate.  These digraphs are:


dd  has the palatal sound as the d in good, wood:

                                                           addumàri        to light

                                                           iddu                 he, him

dr  as above                                        drittu               strait

ddr  as a strong dr                               addrizzàri        to make strait

tr     as above                                      truvàri            to find   

ttr    as a strong tr                              attrici       actress 


Contrasting Pairs

Some words in Sicilian change meaning by the addition of a consonant that they have in common, that is with a certain consonant they have one meaning and by doubling that same consonant the word has a different meaning:


nanu               dwarf                  annu                grandfather

lana                wool                            lanna               tin, can

scanàri           to knead            scannàri          to slaughter

pupa               doll                              puppa              stern

mina               mine                            minna              breast

pala                 shovel                          palla                ball

nudu               naked                          nuddu              nobody

casàta             houseful              cassàta           Sicilian cake

copia               copy                            coppia             couple

moda              fashion              modda             spring, soft

gridu               yell                              griddu             cricket

una                 one                    unna                 wave

stufàtu            stew              stuffàtu           bored, disgusted

abbilìri            to frustrate          abbillìri           to embellis

Pi cummintari ha trasiri Trasi



Liggi Rigiunali Lingua siciliana. Chi ni pensi?

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bibliografia pi lu studiu du sicilianu Select Section Briscula 'n-cincu Carta Europea delle lingue regionali e minoritarie sicilia Corso di lingua e letteratura sicilianaCORSO di LINGUA e LETTERATURA SICILIANA Coordinato da Salvatore Di Marco Il dialetto siciliano fra le lingue dei popoli. conferenze tematiche. 1 - LINGUA E DIALE cultura popolare siciliana Cunta un cuntu detti siciliani dialetto Diffirenzi principali ntra i parrati siciliani: Varii diffirenzi fonuloggichi ibridismo e tautologia ibrida nel siciliano IL PROGETTO ABRACADABRA PER LA DIFFUSIONE DELLE LINGUE NON DOMINANTI NELLA SCUOLA Il Siciliano: Dialetto o lingua?lingua La lingua siciliana attraversu li seculi leggi per la tutela del siciliano Libbra in sicilianu Lingua madre Lingua Siciliana lingua siciliana propria Lingua Siciliana Unificata (LSU) linguistica NAT SCAMMACCA nel siciliano di Marco Scalabrino nuovo gruzzoletto di voci arabo - sicule Nutizii odissea traduzione in siciliano old french medeme in sicilian Per lo studio del siciliano e...chi vò cchiù? POEMS proverbi siciliani proverbs PUISII Select Category Select Section sicilia Sicilian language: an overview siciliano Si vutassi pi mia...inchiesta supra a pulitica linguistica in Siciliapolituca Siziuni Culturali Studi siciliani: lu discursu pi na cattrida univirsitaria teatro siciliano Tiatru i tradizioni culturali Tu i u sicilianu Ultimi nutizii Un cumpenniu di ortugrafia siciliana Compendio di lingua siciliano Universal declaration of linguistic rights

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