I had an Italian professor in college who recommended me two books on the history of the development of Italy's dozens of dialects. I think they were written in the mid-20th century. Does anyone here know what those books might have been? I can't remember.

Also, are there any other good reference works on the history of Italy's dialects?

1 Answer 1


One of the standard works on the subject is certainly the three-volume Grammatica storica della lingua italiana e dei suoi dialetti by the German philologist Gerhard Rohlfs, published in Italian by Einaudi. It is the translation of the German original, Historische Grammatik der italienischen Sprache und ihrer Mundarten (1949-54).

It is apparently legally available at Internet Archive (vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3).

  • I think that might've been what my Italian prof. referenced. grazie. Do you have any idea what the other work he referenced might have been?
    – Geremia
    Mar 21, 2017 at 17:17
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    @Geremia: Two other important, well received works about the history of Italian language are Bruno Migliorini's Storia della lingua italiana and Tullio De Mauro's Storia linguistica dell'Italia unita (about the period 1860-1960, more or less), but I'm not sure off the cuff about the space they give to dialects. I remember De Mauro devoting an important analysis to the very low number of people speaking “actual” Italian soon after the unification of Italy.
    – DaG
    Mar 21, 2017 at 18:18

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