Venetian? Venetan? Vèneto?

How are you spelling that, caller?

During my linguistic travels online just recently, I found that Michele Brunelli (English version) had produced an English translation of his Manual Gramaticałe Xenerałe de ła Łéngua Vèneta e łe só varianti (mgx_veneto.pdf) about a year ago. It’s basically a direct translation of the Venetan version which, I feel, limits its value for non-Venetan speakers, who should also consult Orbilat’s pages on Venetan as well for further information.

After a brief introduction, the Manual starts with some notes about Venetan orthography, a subject which should, if you don’t speak Venetan, be subordinate to a description of the phonemic inventory of the language. It’s easy enough to guess that x represents /z/ and that zs represents


and perhaps /z/; but the pronunciation of the sound represented by zx is uncertain because of the vagueness of the description. zx appears to represent /dz/ (/ts/?), /z/ or (medially) /d/ (dental).

One shortfall is the lack of translations for many of the examples, especially earlier in the Manual. It’s possible to read some without any real effort (e.g. i tó gati i xe pi grandi dei mii “Your cats are bigger than mine”) and others with a little research (e.g. ieri xe vegnù(i) mé nevudi “My nephews came yesterday”).

Most of the Manual concentrates on verb forms, but doesn’t include a list of irregular verbs and their forms for which Orbilat should be consulted.

Nor is there a dedicated section on syntax. I know from articles about Venetan originating from wikipedia that the language has resumptive subject pronouns (an example of which can be seen in i tó gati i xe pi grandi dei mii), but various details about the syntax of Venetan are hidden away in the body of the Manual.

I don’t know if their are any plans to produce something like Bonner’s Introduction to Sicilian Grammar, but it would be nice to see the Manual expanded into a more comprehensive description of the language.


5 thoughts on “Venetian? Venetan? Vèneto?”

  1. Interesting. Once I got past the spelling and oddities like resumptive subject pronouns I found those examples to be much closer to French than I would’ve expected. Certainly they were easy to read than that Nuevo Lengua Franca or whatever it was you posted in recently.

  2. One of the discussions I’ve read about Venetan is that it’s meant to be closer to French than it looks, although the two aren’t mutually intelligible. In fact, the language is meant to be less close to Italian than French or Spanish. I’m guessing there’s probably a dialect continuum from Catalunya (Catalan) across southern France (Occitan) into northern Italy (Venetan).
    Lingua Franca Nova is, I think, really more like a simplified version of Spanish.

  3. I was assuming there would be a dialect continuum, but what had me surprised about how easily I understood those Ventan examples is that I, of course, learnt the standard Parisian variety of French, which seems to be as distinct from Occitan varieties (judging by what I’ve seen of Occitan) as it is from Spanish or Italian.

  4. Interesting that you should find it comprehensible based on your knowledge of standard French. Occitan is certainly distinct from French, being more like Spanish or Catalan from a superficial perspective. On the other hand, the grammatical and lexical similarities among the Romance languages are also working in your favour.
    Here are some examples of Venetan texts, although the language of the first two is old. The first, by Ruzante, is from the 16th century, the second, Discorso de Perasto, from 1797, and the third, by Francesco Artico, dates from the 20th century.
    Orbéntena, el no serae mal star in campo per sto robare, se ‘l no foesse che el se ha pur de gran paure. Càncaro ala roba! A’ son chialò mi, ala segura, e squase che no a’ no cherzo esserghe gnan. […] Se mi mo’ no foesse mi? E che a foesse stò amazò in campo? E che a foesse el me spirito? Lo sarae ben bela. No, càncaro, spiriti no magna.
    Par trezentosetantasete ani le nostre sostanse, el nostro sangue, le nostre vite le xè sempre stàe par Ti, S.Marco; e fedelisimi senpre se gavemo reputà, Ti co nu, nu co Ti, e senpre co Ti sul mar semo stài lustri e virtuosi. Nisun co Ti ne gà visto scanpar, nisun co Ti ne gà visto vinti e spaurosi!”
    Sti cantori vèci da na volta, co i cioéa su le profezie, in mezo al coro, davanti al restèl, co’a ose i ‘ndéa a cior volta no so ‘ndove e ghe voéa un bèl tóc prima che i tornésse in qua e che i rivésse in cao, màssima se i jèra pareciàdi onti co mezo litro de quel bon tant par farse coràjo.

  5. Oddly, I find the second piece easier. What I think I’ve found, though, is that short, simple expressions are easier than longer, more formal or literary language- at least, that’s what I’m guessing. It’s like in Norway I could understand the gist of a newspaper article easily enough based on my knowledge of English and German- newspapers, of course, are written in a fairly simple register. Still, I can see enough familiar in there that I’m confident I could learn it easily enough. Then again, the same applies to most Romance languages…

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