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I'm interested in languages and dialects and have heard that Sardinian is one of the most distinct varieties spoken in Italy.

I would like to ask whether most Italian speakers would consider Sardinian to be a dialect or a separate language?

And what would Sardinians / Sardinian speakers think?

Would a person from a distant part of Italy understand a person speaking Sardinian?

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Questions about dialects are off-topic, please check meta.italian.stackexchange.com/questions/31/… –  They call me Trinity Dec 11 '13 at 8:00
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Then the site is misnamed. It should be "Standard Italian". Which is of course also a dialect. –  hippietrail Dec 11 '13 at 8:02
    
Then feel free to open a proposal for a name change on meta :) –  They call me Trinity Dec 11 '13 at 8:22
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And feel free to chase away more new contributors with popular questions from your site struggling for questions. (-: –  hippietrail Dec 11 '13 at 8:29
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@TheycallmeTrinity I think this is perfectly on-topic because it asks about the relation between italian and another, related language. So, I agree with the owner of the question, mostly because this is not a question about how to say something in Sardinian or whatever, but with how to define a border, which furnishes an enrichment to knowledge of Italian itself. –  martina Dec 11 '13 at 20:12
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1 Answer

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Sardinian is a language of its own, derived directly from Latin. So Italian and Sardinian can be considered "siblings". There are some terms in common, and my guess here is that since Sardinian is oral in nature (lack of writings during its history), many words have been lost or forgotten (for example, the word for rainbow is arcu 'e sole, but I doubt many know it).

What happened is that due to its isolation, since it's spoken in an island, the language evolved much less and slower compared to Italian.

For example, in Italian we had the loss of -um/-us endings replaced by -o, but as far as Sardinian is concerned, only the finals were dropped, leaving a lot of words with -u. This might not be a valid general rule since we say "Sardinian" for convenience, but the truth is that there are many varieties across the island, the closer a village/town is to yours, the closer the language. So someone from the north wouldn't understand what someone from the south speaks.

There are also differences in grammar. An example is the possessive which is usually put after the noun that it affects.

As I said, some terms are in common, but generally someone from other parts might not understand it, if any. For example:

it. Cosa stai dicendo?
en. What are you saying?
sar. Itte sese nande? (This should be read as "itte sernande")

Nande comes from "narrere" (to say), which is the same verb as "narrare" (to tell a story) in Italian.

Note that many things in this answer refer to the variety I speak, so others Sardinians might disagree about words or expressions. However the rest, which is what your question is about, is true for everyone.

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Alemanno, bravu, +1. –  Kyriakos Kyritsis Dec 10 '13 at 18:37
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@KyriakosKyritsis AleNanno! :D –  Alenanno Dec 10 '13 at 18:38
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To see more details on the various dialects of Sardo see the Wikipedia page on lingua sarda, which has quite extensive information. –  nico Dec 11 '13 at 7:34
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