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The Sicilian Language

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Omeru nun scrissi pi grecu chi fu grecu, o Orazziu pi latinu chi fu latinu?  E siddu Pitrarca chi fu tuscanu nun si piritau di scrviri pi tuscanu, pirch ju avissi a ssiri evitatu, chi sugnu sicilianu, di scrviri 'n sicilianu?  Haiu a frimi pappagaddu di la lingua dutri?
(Antoniu Venezianu: Murriali, 7 Jinnaru 1543 - Palermu, 19 Austu 1593)

"Didn't Homer write in Greek because he was Greek, and Horatio write in Latin because he was Latin?  And if Petrarch who was Tuscan was not afraid to write in Tuscan, why should I, who am Sicilian, be shunned for writing in Sicilian?  Must I make myself a parrot for the language of others?"
(Antoniu Venezianu [Antonio Veneziano]: Monreale, 7 January 1543, Palermo 19 August 1593)
NOTE: Maria Garozzo-Payne and Angelo F. Coniglio are teaching a Sicilian Language for Beginners class at the Centru Culturali 'talianu di Buffalo (Buffalo Italian Cultural Center).  Click HERE for more information. The course includes some use of on-line videos.  A list of links to videos referenced in the class is at the bottom of this page.
       Many souls, even Sicilians and those of Sicilian descent, have the same misconception held by Italians and non-Italians everywhere: that "Sicilian" is simply a different, "cruder" form of the Italian language.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  While today's Italians and sadly, today's Sicilians, are told "by those that know" that Sicilian is the language of the poor or ignorant, the Sicilian LANGUAGE was the first "Romance" language to develop from Latin, the early language of state.  As such, it includes not only words derived from Latin roots (as did the Italian "Tuscan" Florentine dialect which became the official Italian language), but it has rich inclusions from the tongues of the many occupiers of Sicily, including Carthaginian, Greek, Arabic, French and Spanish.

     Sicilian was the language of poets, taught in the Sicilian School of Roger the Great a thousand years ago, but it is not regularly taught in Sicilian schools.  If you're an "Italian American", the odds are good that your immigrant ancestors, like the majority of "Italian" migrs during the Great Migration, were from Sicily, a nation which once extended from Naples and Abruzzo to Messina and Palermo, and that they spoke, not Italian, but SICILIAN.

     This page is inspired by the facebook group "Speak Sicilian" (, where you can read or write in the Sicilian language; ask how to say an English word or phrase in Sicilian; ask what a Sicilian word means in English; or learn (or teach) Sicilian.

Vowels in the Sicilian language have the following sounds (phonetics are in English): A is “ah”; E is “eh” (“long a”); I is “ee”; O is “oh” (“long o), and U is “oo”. “A, E, I, O, U” in Italian is “ah, eh, ee, oh, oo”!!  The English sound of I (“long i” as in “eye”) is given by the combination “ai” in Sicilian.   Sicilian has no letter "k", "y" or "w".  It has a letter written like "j", but this "j" is a 'long-tailed' form of the letter "i", and is pronounced as we would pronounce "y" in English.

In Sicilian spellings, "c", if it is followed by "a", "o" or "u", is pronounced like the English "k"; but if it is followed by an "i" or "e", then "c" is pronounced like the English "ch" (as in "church"). Double "cc" is also pronounced as the English "K".

"ch" in Sicilian is NOT pronounced as in English, but sounds like the English "k".  So my cousins, the Miccich family, pronounce their surname "mee-chee-KAY".

Similarly, "g" is pronounced as in the English "good" if followed by "a", "o" or "u"; but "g" is pronounced like the English "j" (as in "George") if it is followed by an "i" or "e".  In Sicilian pronunciation, the "g" sound at the start of words is often "swallowed", and sometimes also the middle of words.  The "g" is silent when followed by the consonant "l"

The consonant "z" at the start of a word is generally pronounced as in English, while "zz" is pronounced "tz" as in "pizza".

There is no "j", as such, in the Sicilian language.   When the letter "i" has the sound a "y" has in English, it is written with a tail and looks like a "j" but it is not pronounced like the English "j".  For example: "jiri" (English phonetics: YIH-rih); "jiurnu" (YOUR-noo); "saju" SIGH-you) etc.

To hear spoken Sicilian, click below.  Presented are some common words, phrases and prose, written and spoken in the Sicilian language, with English translation. I disagree with the contraction of the articles "li", "la" and "lu" (meaning "the") to "i", "a", and "u". That, I believe is a modern 'Italianization'. My family and acquaintances (serrafarchisi) always said li, la, and lu.


Is Sicilian a 'Dialect'?

    Some (generally Northern Italians) try to imply that Sicilian is simply a dialect of the Italian language.  The Italian language itself was once a dialect, Toscano, or Tuscan, which was one of many Apennine peninsula dialects that developed from Latin.

    Many modern day languages trace their origins to the Latin spoken in ancient Rome.  These are the 'Romance' languages, which include Tuscan (Italian); Spanish; Portugese; French; and Rumanian.

    But there is strong evidence that the first Romance language to develop from Latin was the Sicilian language.

    I'm not a trained linguist, and my knowledge of Tuscan is book-learned, while I learned Sicilian at my mother's knee.  However, I'm a self-taught student of languages, and my education as an engineer has taught me to have a curiosity for how all things have developed.  When words are considered in their Latin origin and then compared in Sicilian and Italian, the words seem to me to have clearly progressed from Latin to Sicilian, to Italian. In some cases, Italian words bear no likeness to Latin and Sicilian words that are clearly related.

   In Latin, "brother" is frater (FRAH-tehr); in Sicilian, it's frati (FRAH-tih).  In Tuscan/Italian, it's fratello (fruh-TELL-oh).  I seriously doubt that the word went from frater to fratello to frati; it seems clear that the progression was from Latin to Sicilian to Tuscan.  The same can be said for the words for "sister": Latin soror, Sicilian soru, Tuscan sorella.  The Latin verb "to go" is 'ire'.  In Sicilian, it's 'jiri', in Tuscan it's 'andare'.  The Latin verb "I come" is 'venio'; Sicilian 'veniu'; Tuscan 'vengo'.  Which language came first?

   In Latin, as in Sicilian and Tuscan, many nouns have masculine or feminine endings.  Latin's endings are "us" (oos) for the masculine and "a" (ah) for the feminine.  Again, to me, it seems much more likely that the many Sicilian masculine nouns that end in "u" (oo) derive directly from Latin, and that the Tuscan masculine ending of "o" came later.  Examples are "rabbit": Latin cuniculus, Sicilian cunigliu, and Tuscan coniglio; and "son"; Latin filius, Sicilian figliu, and Tuscan figlio.  In my youth, I mistakenly thought that ny parents pronounced the 'Italian' sound of "o" as "u".  After serious reconsideration, I believe that in fact, the Tuscan and Italian pronunciation changed, devolving the original Latin (and Sicilian) "u" to sound like "o".

   Other words (presented in the order Latin, Sicilian, Tuscan) show similar evolution: "wife": mulieri, muglieri, moglie; and "how": quomodus, comu, come.

   And then there are words for which the Sicilian is clearly derived from the Latin, while the Tuscan appears to have come from a completely different source.  In Latin, the verb "to go" is ire (IHR-eh); in Sicilian, it's jiri (YIHR-ih); but in Tuscan/Italian, it's andare.  In Latin, the pronoun "he" is illus, Sicilian iddu, but in Tuscan it's lui; and "she" is illa in Latin, idda in Sicilian, but lei in Tuscan! 

    This concordance is made undeniable to me by the most 'Sicilian' of words, unni, from the Latin "unde", meaning "where".
    There is a Sicilian language, older than and distinct from the 'Italian' language, which is actually the Tuscan dialect which was developed by Dante Alighieri, with elements which originated in the Sicilian language.  Dante was a member of the Sicilian School of poetry before he organized the Tuscan dialect.

    That being said, the Sicilian language does have regional dialects that vary among the provinces of Sicily, and even between the towns and cities of any specific province. 

    Unfortunately, because for years, 'Italian' has been taught in Sicilian schools, and because of the influence of 'Italian' newspapers, radio and TV, Sicilian is spoken less and less in Sicily.  This situation is further aggravated because 'Italians' mistakenly assume that the Sicilian language is a 'poor man's version' of 'Italian', and many Sicilians feel there is a stigma associated with speaking their own language!

    However, the elderly still speak it, mostly at home, and many public schools are now required to have courses in the Sicilian language.

     The Sicilian words given below are as I learned them from parents who left Sicily over a hundred years ago.  As such they reflect the language as it was spoken in Sicily around the beginning of the 1900s, which was not much modified by incursions of the Tuscan dialect that the 'Risorgimento' imposed on Sicily.  I believe its 'purity' was also enhanced by the fact that Serradifalco is and was a small interior town having limited contact with speakers of Tuscan, or the modified Sicilian dialects of other regions.  Language scholar Alissandru Caldiero, author of Grammar of the Sicilian Language, has informed me that my Sicilian (that is, my parents' Sicilian) resembles the language spoken at the court of Frederick II.

The Sicilian words below are as I learned them as a first language from my parents, who spoke the language as it was use in the early Twentieth Century in Serradifalco, Caltanissetta Province, Sicily.

NOTE: For pronunciation of these Sicilian words, and more, go to the later section below, entitled "Sicilian Words"





above supra ncapu sopra
aid succursu succursu soccorso
apple pomum pumu mela
artichoke cactus caccuciula carciofo


ante hora

antura, andura

fprimo fa

below subtus suttu sotto





burdock carduum carduni cardo
cap (hat) petasus tascu capello





cherry cerasus cirasu ciliegia

to close, shut




I come















giu, di sotto





to extinguish, turn off


astutari, stutari






to fix






di da

to give




to go









acinus, uva





mezzu met

haste, hurry (noun)




I have


haiu ho


ego iu io





hello salve saluti ciao













I ego iu io
juice, sauce sucus sucu sugo
I know scio saju, sacciu so
leaf pampinus pampina foglia
leather corio curiu cuoio
long longus lungu lungo





new novus nuvu nuovo

no one








pear pirum piru pera





to rise, stand up




sauce, juice sucus sucu sugo
scissors forfex forfici forbici





soft mollis muddu morbido













to swim natare natari nuotare
that quod chiddu quello





there (near) illac dda l
there (far) illuc dducu l
this hoc chistu questo








di sopra





where is

unde est




quid est
















lignum lignu legno
   Students of language report that Dante Alighieri, the medieval poet, was greatly influenced by the language that had been spoken at the court of Sicily's Frederick II, namely the Sicilian tongue that was studied and written at the famous Sicilian School.  Dante is credited with polishing the Tuscan dialect, doing so with words and ideas adapted from the Sicilian School and its language.  For example, the sonnet, a form of poetry unknown before Frederick's reign, evolved in Sicily, only to become a major form of poetry throughout not only Italy, but the world.

   Sicilian is a LANGUAGE, that is true; however, like many other languages, it has different dialects within it, that have developed in various regions of Sicily and in the south of the Apennine peninsula. 

    Below is a vocabulary of English words and their meanings in Sicilian, with variations for the dialects of several towns or regions.  It appears that in central Sicily, in Caltanissetta province, northern Agrigento province and eastern Palermo province, the classic Sicilian language still prevails as it was spoken in the court of Frederick II.  This is characterized by words like figliu (son) and cunigliu (rabbit), which in dialects elsewhere have become figghiu and cunigghiu; and especially lu (masculine 'the'), la (feminine 'the') and li (plural 'the), which in dialects have devolved into u, a and i.
This position is corroborated by Sicilian linguist Rosario La Mendola, who notes that outside of a central area of Sicily, the language has been 'contaminated' by modern usages and pronunciations, as well as by Italianization.

He explains that
"in a loosely-defined area of central-southern Sicily, in the hinterland of the provinces of Agrigento, Caltanissetta and part of that of Enna, the local dialects have some particularities when compared with Standard Sicilian or with those spoken in other areas of the Island."

La Mendola's map shows the
'Area of least contamination of the Sicilian language'.  My ancestral village, Serradifalco, is at the center of this area, and my dictionaries reflect that least-contaminated area, where 'la lingua antica' (the ancient language) was spoken by my parents.

These differences from the dialects more reflective of today's 'Standard Sicilian' include, in La Mendola's opinion:

- the failure to transform the Latin syllables LIU or LEU, as for FILIUS, son, or OLEUM, oil, into GGHI, or FIGLIU and OGLIU instead of the usual FIGGHIU and OGGHIU;

- CALLU, for Hot, very similar to the Latin Calidus, instead of CAUDU or CAURU in the more common Sicilian;

- MIDEMMA or similar words, all derived from the Latin IDEM, instead of PURU and MACARI for ALSO;

- FRACICA or FRACI instead of P ESSIRI for FORSE in many places in the Nisse (Caltanissetta)area;

- the greater sonority of the palatal plosive ɖɖ present in BEDDA, CHIDDU, DD so much so that it is often indicated with BEDDRA, CHIDDRU, DDR,;

- the almost exclusive use of the definite articles LU and LI, for IL, LO, I and GLI, in their original and uncontracted form, or with U and I, as instead happens in most of Sicily;

- the retropalatal and slightly aspirated pronunciation of the initial syllables in FL of terms originating from Latin or Vulgar indicated, arbitrarily, with XHIUMI from Flumen, FIUME, XHIURI from Flos Floris, FIORE, XHIATU from Flatum, FIATO etc.;

- the almost total absence of the ASSIMILATION of the previous consonant, PORTA remains as such, it does not become POTTA, as now happens in most of Sicily.;

- the almost total absence of ROTACISM which, in this case, changes the consonant D with R, a phenomenon also typical of the Neapolitan dialect. In this area, in fact, we say DUNCI (DUCI) instead of the widespread RUCI for Dolce and rotacism is NEVER applied in the conjugation of the verbs DIRI, RIDIRI, VIDIRI etc.;

Many of these elements could lead to the conclusion that the dialects spoken in the hinterland of the aforementioned central-southern provinces of the island are those that have preserved to a greater extent the original characteristics of medieval Sicilian.

   I invite all Sicilians and all those of Sicilian descent to e-mail me, to add your own versions of these words.  Please identify them by region, and add as many English words you like, with their Sicilian equivalents. 

Viva la lingua Siciliana!!!

                                                                                  Sicilian Words

     The words in serrafarchisi represent the language spoken in the central part of Sicily at the beginning of the twentieth century.
       In small interior villages, the influences of the outer world, including Italian and foreign visitors and media, were not as great as in large cities, or those on the coastlines.
       Except in cases where a different word entirely is used, the versions shown below for other towns are regional
pronunciations of the basic language.  For example, Sicilian for 'beautiful is 'bedda', which is pronounced 'beddra' in several localities. 
        I can't list all variations from every town here.  I've combined
sciacchatanu and raccamutisi, similar variations from towns of Agrigento province. Thanks to Santo Barbieri for the raccamutisi words; Giovanni Iachelli for the sirausanu; Patrick Pregiato for the missinisi; and special thanks to Danilo Proietti for the extensive list of palermitanu

                                            To use the table, remember the pronunciation guide given above.

       To assist with the pronunciation of Sicilian words, I have used Google Translate.  Many Sicilian words, if spelled correctly, can be entered there as Italian, Spanish or Romanian words.  After entering a word, the "speaker" icon can be pressed and the input word will be pronounced (have your sound on).  Click on any "serrafarchisi" word below, then click the speaker icon that appears on the Google Translate page. Pay no attention to the English translation shown, it's not relevant.  In some cases, I have had to enter a word with phonetic changes to get the pronunciation closest to Sicilian.  The Sicilian words in the lists below can be clicked on to take you directly to the word on Google Translate.
       Many of the pronunciations are spot-on, but some are only approximations. The available languages can't deal with the leading "n" in words like "ncapu" or the leading long-tailed "i" (written as a "j"):
migliu di nenti!" (Better than nothing!)




In English serrafarchisi
e catanis

& Catania)
e raccamutisi

(Sciacca, Racalmuto)
above ncapu          
also, as well medemma     puru    
also, too puru     puru    
verb: I am sugnu     sugnu    
verb: to annoy annuiari     annuiari    
adjective: annoying cammurusu camurriusu   camurriusu   cammurusu
ant formcula furmicula   furmicula    
apple pumu
verb: they are sunnu
verb: to arise
         to stand up
artichoke caccuciula
ball palla
  palluni   pallun
banquet banchetta
  vanca   pallun
barrel varliri
  vutte   pallun
basket panaru          
verb: to be jssiri
beautiful (feminine) bedda bedda bedda biedda   beddra
before andura
below suttu
better migliu megghiu megghiu megghiu    
bird anciddu aceddu aceddu acieddu aceddu  
a little bit tantcchia tantcchia   antcchia    
black niuru niuru   nivuru    
blanket cutunina cuperta
verb: to bless benediciri     beniriciri    
[sir, ma'am] bless me sabenedica     sabbinirica    
blue blu blu   blu    
blouse, shirt cammisa          
verb: to blow sciusciari     sciusciari    
boy carusu carusu   picciutteddu    
boy, little piciliddu piccirriddu piccirriddu piccirriddu    
boy, teen piciuttu piciottu   piciotto    
breakfast mangiari di matina     culazioni    
brother frati     u frati    
bruschetta bruschetta     a bruschetta    
brutish, ugly bruttu
verb: to buy 'ccattari accattari   accattari   cattari
cap (hat) tascu,
carpet trappitu tappitu   tappitu    
celery accia     la accia    
verb: to change cangeri          
cheese tummazzu tummazzu
verb: to chop capuliari     tagghiuzzari
verb: to clean limpiari          
verb: to close chiuiri     chiuiri    
closet cammarinu          
coffee caf caf   caf    
cough tussi tussi   tussi    
verb: to cover cumigliari     cummigghiari    
cover, lid crupicchiu     cuperchiu    
covered cumigliatu     cumigghiatu    
verb: to crush scacciari     scacciari    
verb: to cry chingiri chingiri   chingiri    
cupboard stipu stipu   stipu, stipettu    
verb: to curse bastemmiari     bistimiari    
daughter figlia figghia figghia figghia    
day jurnu jornu jurnu jornu    
dirty ludiu
dust, dirt stirru          
verb: to do fari     fari    
verb: to do chaotic things* cuminiari          
donkey sceccu sceccu   sceccu    
downstairs iusu     iusu    
dust, powder pruvulazzu          
dresser cantaranu cantaranu   cantaranu    
ear oricchiu aricchia   aricchiu
earlier andura     antura    
verb: to eat mangiari mangiari manciari manciari
eggplant milingiana milingiana   mulinciana    
empty vacanti     vacanti    
verb: to fall lavancari cascari   allavancarfiniri    
father patri     patri    
feet pidi peri   peri    
fig cookie puccidata viscotta di ficu pucciddata cucciddatu/a cuccinnata  
finger jitu itu   iritu/irita    
fingernail ugnu ugnu/ugna   ugnu/ugna    
verb: to finish speddiri     finiri    
flat (adjective) chiattu          
flower sciura          
flowers (plural) sciuri          
verb: to fold gnuticari gnutticari   gnutticari    
folded gnuticatu gnutticatu   gnutticatu    
fork furcetta furcetta
frog giurana     giurana    
verb: to fool around babbiari babbiari   babbiari    
foot pidu peru   pere    
from di di, da, du   ri, ra, ru    
verb: to fix azzizzari cunzari   azzizzari    
girl carusa carusa   picciutedda    
girl, little picilidda picciridda piccirridda picciridda    
girl, teen piciotta piciotta   picciota    
verb: to give dari     runari    
verb: to go jiri iri annari iri, annari    
verb: (let's) go ammunnini ammunini annammunini amuninni   ammunini
goat crapa crapra, crapa   crapa    
verb: to grab to grasp afirrari, 'firrari   fari    
grape racina racina   racina   ragina
green virdi virdi   virdi    
verb: to grind capuliari     capuliari    
ground meat capuliatu     capuliatu    
habit (bad) vizziu viziu   viziu    
hair capiddi     capiddi    
half mizzu menzu   menzu, mezzu    
hammer martiddu marteddu   marteddu    
handkerchief fazzulettu fazzulettu   azzulettu    
handsome (masculine) biddu beddu
biddu beddu    
verb: to hang
(e.g., laundry)
stinniri     stenniri    
hassle camurria          
he iddu iddu   iddu    
here cca cca   'cca    
verb: to hide ammucciari     ammucciari    
hole pirtusu pirtusu   pirtusu   pitusu
hurry (noun) prescia     prescia    
I iu, ji (yih)     iu    
verb: he or she is j (yeh) j (yeh)      
jacket bunaca     bunaca    
key chiavi chiavi   chiavi   chiavi
kidneys rini rini   rini    
verb: to kiss vasari          
knee ghinucchiu rinocchiu   rinocchio    
knife cutiddu cuteddu   cuteddu   cutteddru
verb: to knock tuppiari tuppuliari   tuppuliari    
verb: to know sapiri
verb: I know saju,
lamp, light lumi
later doppu     roppu    
lazy lagnusu     lagnusu    
leaf foglia
fogghia   fogghia    
to lean/place (verb) puiari     appuiari    
leather curiu     coriu    
verb: to light addrumari     alluminari    
(it's) likely (that) fracica          
verb: to look taliari taliari   taliari    
lunch mangiari di mazziiurnu     pranzu, manciari di
verb: to make fari     fari    
verb: to melt squagliari squagghiari   squagghiari    
manicotti manicotti     manicuotti    
middle mezzu menzu   menzu/mezzu
mirror specchiu     specchiu    
mold muffu          
moldy muffusu          

pezza pi lavari nterra

more chi     chi, chi    
mother matri     matri    
verb: to move aside arrassari allatiarisi   arrassari    
nail chiuvu chiovu   chiovu   chiovu
napkin serbietta tovagliolo
verb: to neaten pulizziari          
neck cuddu     cuoddu    
no one nuddu     nuddu    
verb: to notice addunari          
now camora
of di di   ri    
olive auliva     alivi, aliva    
on ncapu     'ncapu
onion cipudda     cipudda   cipuddra
orange aranciu purtuallu   aranciu    
others antri iautri autri avutri, autri    
page fogliu fogliu   fogghiu    
paste, tomato sarsina     saissa    
peach pirsica persica   pssica   spergia
peel, skin
pillow chiumazzu     chiumazzu    
pin, straight pin spingula     spingula    
place (noun) banna banna   banna    
place (noun) pustu postu   puostu    
to place (verb) mintiri mettiri   mettiri    
to place/lean (verb) puiari     pusari    
plate piattu     piattu    
pliers tinaglia tinagghia   tinagghia    
polenta (Sicilian style) frasctula          
pomegranate pumugranatu ranatu   ranatu    
poor puviru     puvirui    
poor person mischinu mischinu   mischinu    
powder, dust pruvulazzu          
verb: to pretend fari finta fari finta   fari finta    
verb: to put down pusari     pusari    
verb: to quarrel sciarriari sciarriari   sciarriari    
verb: to rain chioviri chioviri   chioviri    
rabbit cunigliu cunigghiu cunigghiu cunigghiu    
red russu russu   russu   russu
verb: to regret pintiri     pintiri    
ricotta ricotta     ricuotta    
rifle scupetta scupetta   scupetta    
rogue malandrinu     malantrinu    
rotten purritu          
rude maleducatu     malarucatu    
sauce, tomato sarsa     saissa pumaruoru    
sauce, tomato, with meat sucu     sucu    
verb: to save sarbari     saibbari    
verb: to save sparagnari sparagnari   sparagnari    
verb: to speak parlari parrari parrari parrari    
scissors furfici furbici   furbici    
she idda idda   idda    
sheep picuredda pecura   pecura    
shirt, blouse cammisa          
shoe scarpa scarpa   scarpa    
shoulders spaddi spaddi   spaddi    
shovel scibula          
verb: to shut,
turn off
sister suru     soru, soro    
small nicu     nicu    
snails babalucci vavalucci   babbalucci   babalucci
son figliu figghiu figghiu figghiu    
spider tarantula ragnu   ragnu    
spoon cucchiara cucchiaru   cucchiaru    
sprig spicchiu     spicchiu    
straw paglia pagghia   pagghia    
verb: to stop raining scampari          
verb: to stretch stinnichiari stinnichiari   stinnichiari    
stupid, idiot babbu babbu   scemu, babbo   bubbu
sugar zuccheru zuccuru   zuccarru    
summer stagiuni stati   stati    
Sunday duminica ruminica duminica ruminica    
supper mangiari di sira     manciari ri sira    
verb: to swim natari natari   natari    
swiss chard zarchi     gira   zarchi
table tavulinu tavulinu   tavulu, tavulinu    
tail cuda cura   cura    
the (masc., fem.) lu, la   u, a 'u, 'a    
the (plural) li   i 'i    
then tannu tannu   tannu    
there (far) dda dda   'dda   ddra
there (near) dducu ddocu   'ddocu    
adjective: this way, like this accuss          
verb: to tie attaccari
today oi (OY-ih) oggi oggi uoggi, starnata    
toe jitu di pedi itu do peri   iritu ru peri    
toenail ugnu ugnu   ugnu ru peri    
tomato pumadoru pumaroru   pomaroru    
tomorrow dumani          
tree arbulu arburu
arvulu arbulu arbulu  
verb: to try 'nsairi pruvari   pruvari    
ugly ladiu lariu   lriu   ladiu
verb: to uncover scumigliari     scummigghiari    
uncovered scumigliatu     scummigghiatu    
under suttu sutta   sutta    
upstairs susu     susu    
us nuantri niautri nuautri nuatri    
verb: to shout vanniari
abbanniari abbaniari, grirari vuciari    
what, whatever zoccu     'nzoccu    
verb: he/she was jra
verb: they were jranu
where unni     runni, runne    
where is (he, it) unni     runni    
a while ago andura     antura    
white biancu iancu   biancu    
wife muglieri mugghieri mugghieri mugghieri    
winter nmirnu mernu   'mbernu    
to wipe (verb) stuiari     stuiari    
woman fimmina
fimmina   fimmina
word palora parola parola parola    
verb: to work travagliari travagghiari travagghiari travagghiari    
wow msca mzzica mizzica mizzica    
yellow giarnu
giallu   giarnu
yesterday ajiri          
you (equal) tu     tu    
you (formal) vu     tu    
you (elder) vussia     vossia    
you plural vuantri     vuatri    


Sicilianu serrafarchisi
In English sirausanu
e catanis

& Catania)
e raccamutisi

(Sciacca, Racalmuto)
accia celery     accia    
accuss adjective: this way, like this          
addrumari verb: to light, to ignite     alluminari    
addunari verb: to notice,
to become aware of
afirrari verb: to grab, to grasp          
ajiri yesterday          
ammucciari verb: to hide     ammucciari    
ammunnini verb: (let's) go ammunini annammunini amuninni   ammunini
anciddu bird aceddu aceddu acieddu aceddu  
andura a while ago     nature antura  
andura before
antura antura    
andura earlier   antura antura    
antri others iautri autri avutri, autri    
annuiari verb: to annoy     annuiari    
aranciu orange purtuallu   aranciu    
arbulu tree arburu arvulu arbulu arbulu  
arrassari verb: to move aside allatiarisi   arrassari    
attaccari verb: to tie     attaccari    
auliva olive     alivi, aliva    
azzizzari verb: to fix cunzari   azzizzari    

babalucci snails vavalucci   babbalucci   babalucci
babbiari verb: to fool around babbiari   babbiari    
babbu stupid, idiot babbu   scemu, babbo   bubbu
banchetta banquet
bastemmiari verb: to curse     bistimiari    
banna place (noun) banna   banna    
bedda beautiful (feminine) bedda bedda biedda   beddra
benediciri verb: to bless     beniriciri    
biancu white iancu   biancu    
biddu handsome (masculine) beddu
biddu beddu    
blu blue blu   blu    
bruschetta bruschetta     bruschetta    
bruttu brutish, ugly     ladiu    
bunaca jacket     bunaca    

caccuciula artichoke
caf coffee caf   caf    
cammarinu closet          
cammisa blouse, shirt          
cammurusu adjective: annoying camurriusu   camurriusu   cammurusu
camora by now     camora    
camurria hassle          
cangeri verb: to change          
cantaranu dresser cantaranu   cantaranu    
canusciri verb: to know,
to recognize
capiddi hair     capiddi    
capiddu cap (hat)     capeddu    
ncapu on, on top of, above     'ncapu
capuliari verb: to chop, grind     tagghiuzzari
capuliatu ground meat     capuliatu    
carusa girl carusa   picciutedda    
carusu boy carusu   picciutteddu    
cca here cca   'cca    
'ccattari verb: to buy accattari   accattari   cattari
chingiri verb: to cry chingiri   chingiri    
chiattu adjective: flat          
chiavi key chiavi   chiavi   chiavi
chioviri verb: to rain chioviri   chioviri    
chiuiri verb: to close     chiuiri    
chi more     chi, chi    
chiumazzu pillow     chiumazzu    
chiuvu nail chiovu   chiovu   chiovu
cipudda onion     cipudda   cipuddra
crapa goat crapra, crapa   crapa    
crupicchiu cover, lid     cuperchiu    
cucchiara spoon cucchiaru   cucchiaru    
cuda tail cura   cura    
cuddu neck     cuoddu    
cuminiari verb: to do chaotic things        
cunigliu rabbit cunigghiu cunigghiu cunigghiu    
cutiddu knife cuteddu   cuteddu   cutteddru
cutunina blanket cuperta
cumigliari verb: to cover     cummigghiari    
cumigliatu covered     cumigghiatu    
curiu leather     coriu    

dda there (far) dda   'dda   ddra
dducu there (near) ddocu   'ddocu    
di from di, da, du   ri, ra, ru    
di of di   ri    
donna woman fimmina   fimmina   fimmina
doppu later     roppu    
dumani tomorrow          
duminica Sunday ruminica duminica ruminica    
dari verb: to give     runari    

j (yeh) verb: he or she is j (yeh)      
jra verb: he/she was   era    
jranu verb: they were jerunu
erba grass, herb          
jssiri verb: to be

fari verb: to do     fari    
fari verb: to make     fari    
fari finta verb: to pretend fari finta   fari finta    
fazzulettu handkerchief fazzulettu   azzulettu    
fedda slice          
figlia daughter figghia figghia figghia    
figliu son figghiu figghiu figghiu    
fimmina woman fimmina   fimmina   fimmina
'firrari verb: to grab, to grasp          
foglia leaf fogghia   fogghia    
fogliu page fogliu   fogghiu    
formcula ant furmicula   furmicula    
frasctula polenta (Sicilian style)        
fracica it's likely that          
frati brother     u frati    
f verb: he/she was f   f    
furcetta fork furcetta
furfici scissors furbici   furbici    
fronu verb: they were frunu   frunu    

ghinucchiu knee rinocchiu   rinocchio    
giallu yellow giallu   giallu    
giarnu yellow giallu   giarnu    
giurana frog     giurana    
gnuticari verb: to fold gnutticari   gnutticari    
gnuticatu folded gnutticatu   gnutticatu    
gridari verb: to shout   grirari    

idda she idda   idda    
iddu he iddu   iddu    
ji (yih) I     iu    
jiri verb: to go iri annari iri, annari    
jitu finger itu   iritu/irita    
jitu di pedi toe itu do peri   iritu ru peri    
iu I     iu    
iunciri verb: to join, to tie     unciri    
jurnu day jornu jurnu jornu    
iusu downstairs     iusu    

la the (fem.)   u, a 'u, 'a    
li the (plural)   i 'i    
ladiu ugly lariu   lriu ladiu ladiu
lavancari verb: to fall cascari   allavancarfiniri    
lagnusu lazy     lagnusu    
limpiari verb: to clean          
lu the (masc.)   u, a 'u, 'a    
luci lamp, light     luci    
ludiu dirty     lurdu    
lumi lamp, light     luci    
lurdu dirty     lurdu    

malandrinu rogue     malantrinu    
maleducatu rude     malarucatu    
mangiari noun: food          
mangiari verb: to eat          
mangiari di matina breakfast     culazioni    
mangiari di mazziiurnu lunch     pranzu, manciari di
mangiari di sira supper     manciari ri sira    
manicotti manicotti     manicuotti    
martiddu hammer marteddu   marteddu    
matri mother     matri    
medemma also, as well     puru    
nmezzu in the middle menzu   menzu/mezzu
migliu better megghiu megghiu megghiu    
milingiana eggplant milingiana   mulinciana    
mintiri verb: to place mettiri   mettiri    
nmirnu winter mernu   'mbernu    
msca wow mzzica mizzica mizzica    
mischinu poor person mischinu   mischinu    
mizzu half menzu   menzu, mezzu    
muffu mold          
muffusu moldy          
muglieri wife mugghieri mugghieri mugghieri    

natari verb: to swim natari   natari    
ncapu above, on top          
nicu small     nicu    
niuru black niuru   nivuru    
nuantri us niautri nuautri nuatri    
nuddu no one     nuddu    

oi (OY-ih) today oggi oggi uoggi, starnata    
ora now     ora    
oricchiu ear aricchia   aricchiu

paglia straw pagghia   pagghia    
la palla the ball
  palluni   pallun
palora word parola parola parola    
panaru basket          
parlari verb: to speak parrari parrari parrari    
patri father     patri    
pezza pi lavari nterra mop     cannavazzu    
piattu plate     piattu    
picilidda girl, little picciridda piccirridda picciridda    
piciliddu boy, little piccirriddu piccirriddu piccirriddu    
piciotta girl, teen piciotta   picciota    
piciuttu boy, teen piciottu   piciotto    
picuredda sheep pecura   pecura    
pidi feet peri   peri    
pidu foot peru   pere    
pintiri verb: to regret   pintiri    
pirsica peach persica   pssica   spergia
pirtusu hole pirtusu   pirtusu   pitusu
prescia hurry (noun)     prescia    
pruvulazzu dust, powder          
puccidata fig cookie viscotta di ficu pucciddata cucciddatu/a cuccinnata  
puiari verb: to lean/place     appuiari    
pulizziari verb: to neaten/clean up        
pumadoru tomato pumaroru   pomaroru    
pumu apple
pumugranatu pomegranate ranatu        
purritu rottten     puru    
puru also, too     puru    
pusari verb: to put down/place   pusari    
pustu place (noun) postu   puostu    
puviru poor     puvirui    

quagliari verb: to jell          
quali which          
quannu when          
quantu how much          
quasica almost, sort of          

racina grape racina   racina   ragina
ricotta ricotta     ricuotta    
rini kidneys rini   rini    
russu red russu   russu   russu

sabenedica [sir, ma'am] bless me     sabbinirica    
sacciu verb: I know     sacciu    
nsairi verb: to try pruvari   pruvari    
saju verb: I know     sacciu    
sapiri verb: to know     sapiri    
sarbari verb: to save     saibbari    
sarsa sauce, tomato   saissa pumaruoru    
sarsina paste, tomato   saissa    
scacciari verb: to crush     scacciari    
scampari verb: to stop raining          
scarpa shoe scarpa   scarpa    
sceccu donkey sceccu   sceccu    
sciarriari verb: to quarrel sciarriari   sciarriari    
sciura flower          
sciuri flowers (plural)          
sciusciari verb: to blow     sciusciari    
scorcia noun: skin, fruit peel          
scumigliari verb: to uncover     scummigghiari    
scumigliatu uncovered     scummigghiatu    
scupetta rifle scupetta   scupetta    
serbietta napkin tovagliolo
spaddi shoulders spaddi   spaddi    
sparagnari verb: to save sparagnari   sparagnari    
specchiu mirror     specchiu    
speddiri verb: to finish     finiri    
spicchiu sprig     spicchiu    
spingula pin, straight pin   spingula    
squagliari verb: to melt squagghiari   squagghiari    
stagiuni summer stati   stati    
stinnichiari verb: to stretch stinnichiari   stinnichiari    
stinniri verb: to hang
(e.g., laundry)
stipu cupboard stipu   stipu, stipettu    
stirru dust, dirt, waste          
stuiari verb: to wipe     stuiari    
stutari verb: to shut,
turn off
sucu sauce, tomato, with meat     sucu    
sugnu verb: I am     sugnu    
sunnu verb: they are
suru sister     soru, soro    
susiri verb: to arise,
          to stand up
susu upstairs     susu    
suttu below sutta
sutta sutta    
suttu under sutta sutta sutta sutta  

taliari verb: to look taliari   taliari    
tannu then tannu   tannu    
tantcchia a little bit tantcchia   antcchia    
tarantula spider ragnu   ragnu    
tascu cap (hat)     capeddu    
tavulinu table tavulinu   tavulu, tavulinu    
tinaglia pliers tinagghia   tinagghia    
trappitu the carpet tappitu   tappitu    
travagliari verb: to work travagghiari travagghiari travagghiari    
tu you (informal)     tu    
tummazzu cheese tummazzu
tuppiari verb: to knock tuppuliari   tuppuliari    
tussi cough tussi   tussi    

ugnu fingernail ugnu/ugna   ugnu/ugna    
ugnu di pedi toenail ugnu   ugnu ru peri    
unni where     runni, runne    
unni where is (he, she, it)     runni    

vacanti empty     vacanti    
vanniari verb: to shout vuciari
abbanniari abbaniari    
varliri barrel
  vutte   pallun
vasari verb: to kiss          
virdi green virdi   virdi    
vizziu habit (bad) viziu   viziu    
vu you (formal)     tu    
vuantri you (plural)     vuatri    
vuddedda bowels          
vussia you (elder)     vossia    

zarchi swiss dchard     gira   zarchi
zoccu what, whatever     'nzoccu    
zuccheru sugar zuccuru   zuccarru    

*cuminiari is one of those near-untranslatable Sicilian words meaning "to do chaotic things" or "to be up to no good", or "to make trouble".  "Chi cumini?" can mean "what mischief are you doing?", "what trouble are you up to?", etc.
I've translated the following from the Italian.  I must say some of it is over my head, but it's clear that reasoned research has shown that the Tuscan dialect, and the Italian language that sprang from it, were derived from the Sicilian language spoken in the court of Frederick II and studied in his Sicilian School of poetry.

If only our northern Italian brothers would recognize the Sicilian heritage of their language, and cease referring to Sicilian as the language of the poor and ignorant.  "Lu Sicilianu" should be taught in Sicily's schools and spoken by its citizens,

Dante loses his paternity: the Italian language was born in Sicily

A new confirmation of the origins of Italian heterodox undermines centuries of literary and cultural monopoly: the Sicilian poets widespread in Lombardy, before their presence in Tuscany

Noemi Ghetti
Friday, June 14, 2013

The discovery of some poems of the Sicilian School in a Lombard library by the researcher Joseph Mascherpa brings to the fore the debate about the true origins of the Italian language. The theme is echoed by Cesare Segre in an article in the Corriere della Sera of 13 June, which underlines just how the 'change of perspective' in research is due to the sudden turn in recent times, of thirteenth-century manuscripts in places hitherto unsuspected .

One example is the discovery of at least four poems on the back of Sicilian scrolls bearing convictions of members of large Guelph families for violations of rules on tournaments. In those days, you know, notaries were often poets, and filled in the blank backs in this way, avoiding illegal notations in the margins of the records.

There are important fragments of poems, attributable among other authors such as Giacomo da Lentini, 'the Notary' founder of the Sicilian School, and even to Frederick II, the emperor-poet who was the genius patron of the arts. Occurring in the crucial decades 1270-1290, the transcript leads us to hypothesize the existence of a small songbook of poems of the Sicilian School, circulated in Lombardy in those years. It is in addition to the recent discovery of another mutilated manuscript, discovered by Luca Cadioli in the attic of a noble Milanese, which contains the only faithful translation from the French of Lancelot du lac, the classic novel about the loves of Lancelot and Guinevere, remembered by Francesca da Rimini in her caharacterization in Canto V of Dantes Inferno.

Now as then, once again for us, "The book was condemned, and he who wrote it." These findings sound like an endorsement of the original idea that our [Italian] language was born at the beginning of the thirteenth century by the revolt of the Sicilian poets against ecclesiastical Latin, developed in 2011 in my essay The Shadow of Cavalcanti and Dante (LAsino doro editions).

The transcripts of the Sicilians are especially interesting because they let us see in them glimpses of the original lyric language, so far lost except in a single case, which predate the Tuscanized versions by which we know them. It reconstructs for us, if we care to deduce it, the view of a secular literary culture, widespread in the thirteenth century in the Italian peninsula far beyond what the traditional scheme suggests.

It affects in this way a well-established historical reconstruction that makes the Tuscans, after the fall of the Swabians and the Ghibelline party in Benevento (1266), the sole heirs of Sicilian poetry. In fact, it immediately comes to mind that northern Italy welcomed the Cathars and troubadours on the run, in the aftermath of the fierce Albigensian Crusade which dispersed the civilization of neighboring Provence. And that in Northern Italy there persisted a widespread tradition of French ballads of love and adventure, happily reprised at the fifteenth-century University of Ferrara by Boiardos Orlando in Love, it was later reported in the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto, and was also the standard language of the Florentine Pietro Bembo, canonized as a Cardinal in 1524.

The reaction of the Church against the magnificent flowering secular language of the thirteenth century was in fact very hard: in February 1278 in the Arena of Verona a huge fire burned the last 166 Cathars, and in 1285 the Parisian philosopher Siger of Brabant was assassinated. Excommunicated and condemned to death, waiting for forgiveness in the papal curia of Orvieto, where he had fled after 1277, Bishop Tempier of Paris had judged heretical his evolution of Latin that had animated, with De Amore by Andrea Cappellano, the origins of poetry including the stilnovisti [New Stylists] Guinizzelli and Cavalcanti. The offense certainly did not go unnoticed in the stilnovisti environment. So the last decade of the thirteenth century saw the conversion of Dante's love of woman to the love of God, which proceeds in stages from Vita Nova through the Convivio to the Divine Comedy. In 1300, in which the otherworldly journey of the Comedy is set, Dantes exile from Florence was sealed, followed by the premature death of Cavalcanti.

In the sacred poem [the Divine Comedy] Federico II is condemned to Hell (Canto X) in a group of heretics, "that with the body make the soul mortal." He is destined to be teacher and "first friend," endowed with "loftiness of genius," but "he had a disdain for" the faith.  Pier delle Vigne, Sicilian poet and secretary to the emperor [Frederick II], is placed between the suicides, and tells Dante their drama, so convoluted, because the unforgivable sin of the Sicilians, in the eyes of Dante, is to have attempted a search for carnal love and passion, outside of religion, inventing a new language. Sordello of Goito, a troubadour who had found fortune in Provence and returned to Italy in 1269, of Mantuan origin like Virgil, is placed instead in Purgatory (CantoVI-VIII), like other poets of the thirteenth century.

The prejudice against Sicilians therefore has ancient roots, and a careful analysis of the texts of Dante and solutions that gradually imposed themselves in the secular 'language issue' show how, in spite of accepted theory, it originates from Dante himself. He was the most famous poet to establish himself as a 'father' of the modern Italian language, obscuring one hundred years of research of the love poetry from which it was born, with a systematic work of re-semanticization of the spiritual and Christian vernacular vocabulary of its origins. Even in the nineteenth century a sensitive critic, Francesco de Sanctis, demonstrates a certain deafness to the poets of the Sicilian School, and we had to wait until 2008 to have the first complete critical edition and commentary, in three volumes of Meridiani.

It is interesting as an aside to recognize, in the limited number of 'outdated' studies of the last century, like those of Bruno Nardi and Maria Corti, the original judgment of Gramscis Prison Notebooks about the thirteenth century and Dante. It is perhaps the most well-known essay on Canto X of the Inferno contained in the Notebooks (1931-32), with explicit distance from religion, and important messages in code intended for '"former friend" Togliatti. 

Somewhat less well-known is Gramscis appreciation for Guido Cavalcanti.  His words, which erect to the "highest exponent" the uprising in medieval theocratic thinking and conscious use of the vernacular instead of Latin and Virgil, were taken almost verbatim from Gianfranco Contini. For Gramsci, a fine linguist, the Comedy is "the medieval swan song," and his work as a Latinization of the vernacular marks the crisis of the rebirth of the secular and the transition to Christian humanism. Read the Comedy "with love" is the attitude of "simpleton professors who make religions of some poet or writer, and celebrate strange philological rites." Appreciate the aesthetic values​​, he writes from Iulca in a letter from prison in 1931, warning against uncritical transmission of the poem to your children; that does not mean you agree with its ideological content.


Im a Sicilian American

Dedicated to my parents Gaetano and Rosa Alessi Coniglio and my eldest brother Guy, who came to America in 1913 and 1914 from Serradifalco, SICILY.

Im a Sicilian American.

Im a Sicilian American.

Im the son of immigrants who left a land of history and beauty, of poets and dreamers, volcanoes and olive trees.  A land that taught the world what a modern nation could be, before most modern nations existed.  A land that formed the largest country, The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, from Naples and Abruzzo to Messina and Palermo, that was subsumed into the new Kingdom of Italy after the unification.

My parents left because for all its lore and loveliness, and their fierce pride in it, Sicily was poor and demeaned, and could offer little hope for their familys future. 

Im a Sicilian American.

My heritage includes mythical Persephone, Vulcan, and Icarus; Greek scholars Archimedes, Empedocles and Diodorus Siculus; composers Bellini and Scarlatti, and writers Verga and Sciascia.

Im a Sicilian American.

Im Padre Saverio Saetta, who died in 1695 while bringing Christianity to the New World.

Im Antonio Crisafi.  I came before there was a United States and in 1696 commanded the fort at Onondaga. 

Im Enrico Fardella, who fought against the Bourbons in Sicily, one of the first peoples revolutions in Europe, in 1848, and then became a brigadier general in Americas Civil War.

Im a Sicilian American.

Im a descendant of 'Mazziurnu' immigrants who formed 80% of the Italians who came to America in the Great Migration of the late 1800s and early 1900s, most from the island of Sicily.

Im one of the nineteen Sicilians who were murdered in New Orleans in 1891, in the largest mass lynching in American history.

Im a Sicilian American.

Im Chaz Palminteri, Frank Capra, Armand Assante, Sonny Bono, Iron Eyes Cody, Ben Gazzara, Frankie Laine, Cydi Lauper, Chuck Mangione, Al Pacino, Louie Prima, Pete Rugolo, Frank Zappa, and thousands of others who have made the world wonder, laugh, and sing with our artistry.

Im Joe Dimaggio.

Im a Sicilian American.

Im one of millions of one-, two- and three-star mothers who anguished while their sons fought for the American Dream in World War II, in the frigid trenches of France or the steaming jungles of the Pacific.

Im one of many mothers whose son never returned.

Im a Sicilian American.

I say Comu si?, not Come stai?  I answer Bunu!, not Bene.

Not Dov?, but Unni ?; not La. but Dda!

Im a Sicilian American. 

I've never met a mafioso, nor wanted to, nor played at being one.

Im a Sicilian American, and proud to be one. 

~ Angelo F. Coniglio ~ 10 May 2014


A petition to protect the Sicilian Language

It may be signed at which contains this text of a letter sent to the Italian Minister of Heritage and Cultural Activities and Tourism and to the President of the Sicilian Region.

"The Sicilian language - reads the petition - is a Romance language spoken today by about 5 million people in Italian territory. If we consider the descendants of Sicilian emigrants from the second half of the nineteenth century or so, the number rises to 22 million.

Sicilian was the language of everyday life in Sicily until at least the eleventh century, and it became a literary language in 1230 with the creation of the Poetic Sicilian School of Frederick II of Swabia.  This was followed by the influence on the Tuscan poets through whom these influences in Tuscan literature led to the birth of the Italian language.   Today, Sicilian does not enjoy any form of protection, in a world where globalization is rampant and when a language dies every two weeks, eliminating the culture of which it was an expression, as well as special views of life and the world (UNESCO classifies Sicilian among vulnerable languages).

In 1999, Law 482, "Rules for the protection of historical linguistic minorities", was passed.  Article 2 states: "... the Republic protects the language and culture of Albanian, Catalan, Germanic, Greek, Slovenian and Croatian and those speaking French, Franco-Provenal, Friulian, Ladino, Occitan and Sardinian", thus excluding, without following the linguistic criteria, all other languages spoken Italian territory and relegating them to the status of 'dialects' (although for linguists in the academic world there is no difference between dialects and languages and the 'discrimination' against those that are daily called dialects takes place, so to speak, at the political level): among them, as well as Sicilian, there is Piedmont, Veneto, Emilian, Romagna, Lombard, Neapolitan and others.

In 1981 and 2011 two regional laws were enacted on the teaching of Sicilian in the island's schools, but they have not proved to be enough to try to preserve the language, which increasingly is being lost as a result of the wide use of Italian (and also of English) by the mass media, and there are not many cases where the two laws have been put in place.

What we want to ask through this petition is an ad hoc law (such as, for example, Law 38/2001, designed especially for the Slovenian language) or an amendment of Law 482/1999, by which even the status of the Sicilian language is finally recognized as a historical linguistic minority, since history and Sicilian culture contribute to the cultural richness of Italy and the image it presents to the world.

Place the Sicilian language among the historical linguistic minorities protected by the Italian government!

(Click HERE to vote.)

Read the New Orleans Advocate article "Erase a language, murder a culture; North shore Sicilians trying to preserve their endangered language"

If you'd like to discuss the Sicilian language, ask about specific words or phrases,
post (or watch) videos of Sicilian being sung and spoken, go to the following
facebook page:

Sicilian is a Language

There are many books available on the Sicilian language, including dictionaries like this one. 
Click on the author's name for more, then click the book's image for purchase information:
Dictionary and Phrasebook
Hippocrene Books


This is an excellent book for learning Sicilian, which includes an audio DVD so the spoken word can be heard:

Learn Sicilian
Mparamu lu sicilianu


Remember, there are MANY regional dialects of the Sicilian language. 
Dictionaries and texts will reflect the dialect that the authors are most familiar with,
and therefore they may not be totally consistent with one another.
Some dialectical variations are shown below.


  ~ The Lady of the Wheel (La Ruotaia), my first book, a historical novella about foundlings and sulfur mine workers in 1860s Racalmuto, a town in central Sicily.
SICILIAN LINKS Sicilianit Is Sicily 'Italy'? The Sicilian Languge
Cognomi ~ Sicilian Surname Origins Ngiurii ~ Sicilian Nicknames Place-names as surnames Sicilian Coats of Arms
Foundlings The Sicilian Naming Convention

Given Names

Convert Latin given names to Sicilian
La Bedda Sicilia ~ My history of Sicily Heritage Path ~ original Sicilian records Civil Record Format ~ 1820 - 1910 I'm a Sicilian American
My Lectures on Sicilian Genealogy Sicilian Occupations in Civil Records Sicilian Records at the Buffalo FHC Orphans, Illegitimates, and Foundlings
Li Carusi ~ The Mine-boys Shortened Sicilian Given Names There is no letter "j" in Sicilian The Thing
  Womens' Surnames Masculine and Feminine Names  
Spoken Sicilian videos

Italian vs. Sicilian - How Much Do They Differ?

he Sound of the Sicilian Language (UDHR, Numbers, Greetings, Words, & Sample Text)

Basic Greetings

Common Words and Phrases in Sicilian

The verb "to be": ssiri

Body Parts


Nina Misuraca Ignaczak's marvelous video about the Sicilian language:

NOTE:  Because of the variety of dialects of the Sicilian Language, some words and pronunciations in these videos may differ.  Just another indication of the vibrancy of the Sicilian culture. 
(Some videos may require you to watch, or skip, ads.)
Given that Sicilian is a language in and of itself, there are many DIALECTS OF SICILIAN across the island, with variations in pronunciation, or completely different words for the same concept in different areas. 

Here are a few, beginning with the personal pronoun "I".  The outlined areas are the nine provinces, each with its similarly named capital city as in this map.

Consonant Pronunciation Guide

The phonetic pronunciations shown reflect English phonetics. 
The rs are rolled; double rrs are rolled more.  The exception is r before consonant, which sounds like the English (unrolled) r.
All double consonants are pronounced as such.
Soft c is pronounced as the English ch in some dialects, as s in others.
Light l is like English l; heavy l is similar to r, phoneticized here as r or ll.


b onu, good (BOH-noo)

abbaiari, to bark (ahb-buy-AHR-ee)
b anna
, place (BAHN-nuh)
bannera, flag
fibbia, buckle


pani, bread (PAH-nee)

pesti, pest (PEH-stee)
pirsuna, person
paisi, town (pie-EES-ee)
pastu, meal


dinari, money (dee-NAH-ree)
diri, to say (DEE-ree)
dari, to give
deci, ten
doppu, after


bedda, beautiful (BEHD-duh)
fedda, slice (FEHD-duh)
stidda, star
fudda, crowd
cutiddu, knife

              hard g
gattu, cat
gula, throat (GOO-luh)

godiri, to enjoy (goh-DEER-ee)
ghiacciu, ice (GYAHT-choo)
grassu, fat (GRAHS-soo)

              soft g
gia, already (JAH)
giru, tour/turn (JEE-roo)

giustu, fair/right (JOO-stoo)
giovani, young (JOH-vuh-nee)
giuiusu, joyous (joo-YOO-soo)

              hard sc
scarpa, shoe (SKAR-puh)
scola, school

schiavu, slave (SKYAH-vooe)
scopu, effect (SKOH-poo)
scurriri, to flow (skoor-REE-ree)

              soft sc
scrusciu, sound (SKROO-shoo
to descend (SHEEN-nih-ree)

scena, scene (SHEH-nuh)
sceccu, donkey (SHEHK-koo)
sciuri, flowers (SHOO-ree)



Un populu:
mittitilu a catina
attuppatici la vucca
ancora libiru.

Livatici lu travagghiu
lu passaportu
la tavula unnu mancia
lu lettu unnu dormi,
ancora riccu.

Un populu
diventa poviru e servu
quannu ci arrubbanu a lingua
addutata di patri:
persu pi sempri.

Diventa poviru e servu
quannu li paroli non figghianu paroli
e si mancianu tra diddi. 

Mi nnaddugnu ora,
mentri accordu la chitarra du dialettu
ca perdi na corda lu jornu. 

Mentre arripezzu
a tila camuluta
ca tissiru li nostri avi
cu lana di pecuri siciliani. 

E sugnu poviru:
haiu i dinari
e non li pozzu spnniri;
li giuelli
e non li pozzu rigalari;
lu cantu
nta gaggia
cu lali tagghiati.

Un poviru
caddatta nte minni strippi
da matri putativa,
chi lu chiama figghiu
pi nciuria.

Nutri lavevamu la matri,
nni larrubbaru;
aveva i minni a funtana di latti
e ci vppiru tutti,
ora ci sputanu.

Nni rist la vuci didda,
la cadenza,
la nota vascia
du sonu e du lamentu:
chissi non nni ponnu rubari.

Non nni ponnu rubari,
ma ristamu poviri

e orfani lu stissu.

A people:
put it in chains
undress it
plug its mouth
its still free.

Take its jobs away
their passports
the table where they eat
the bed where they sleep,
theyre still rich.

A people
becomes poor and enslaved
when they steal its language
passed down from its fathers:
to be lost forever.

It becomes poor and enslaved
when words dont regenerate
and they eat each other. 

I realize it now,
while tuning my dialects guitar
that loses a string each day. 

While I patch up
the moth-eaten cloth
that our ancestors wove
with the wool of Sicilian sheep. 

And I am poor:
I do have money
and I can't spend it;
have jewels
and I can't give them away;
I sing
in a cage
with clipped wings. 

A poor man
who feeds from dry breasts
of the supposed mother,
who calls him son
as an insult.

We once had a mother,
they stole her from us;
her breast was a milk fountain
and they drank it all,
now they spit on us. 

Her voice remains with us,
the rhythm,
the soft note
musical and lamenting:
They cant steal these from us.

They can't steal them from us,
but we stay poor
and orphans just the same.


The Sicilian language is now being taught in Buffalo, for the first time ever in that city, using the following texts:

Conversational Sicilian for Beginners, Part One

Conversational Sicilian for Beginners, Part Two

Click here for information on the classes
Sicilian Language Classes.


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