Friulian language

Friulian (Furlan)
Spoken in: the eastern part of Italy
Region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Total speakers: 600,000
Ranking: N/A
Genetic classification: Indo-European

 Italic languages
  Romance languages
   Rhaetian languages

Official status
Official language of: No country. Officially recognized in Italy with the law 482/1999
Regulated by: Osservatori Regjonl de Lenghe e de Culture Furlanis
Language codes
ISO 639-1None
ISO 639-2fur
See also: LanguageList of languages

Friulian (friulano in Italian, Furlan in Friulian) is a Romance language belonging to the Rhaetian languages family, spoken in the north-east of Italy (Friuli-Venezia Giulia province) by about 600,000 people, the vast majority of whom speaks also Italian. It is also called Eastern Ladin, since it has the same roots of Ladin, although in the centuries it has developed in different ways under the influence of surrounding cultures (German, Italian, Venetian, Slovenian). It has a good cultural background (there were poems and works in Friulian already in 1300, while first documents appear in 11th century) and in the 20th century there was a revival of the language, which continues so far.


The area of diffusion

Today, Friulian language is spoken in the Province of Udine, in the vast majority of the Province of Pordenone, in more than half of the Province of Gorizia and in the eastern part of the Province of Venice.

In the world

Friuli was until the 1960s an area of deep poverty, so lots of people left their homeland to search a job; the main destinations were Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, the United States, South Africa. In these countries there are still today associations of Friulian immigrants (called Fogolr furlan) that try to protect the traditions and the language of their origin.

Famous poets and writers


Long vowels are typical of the Friulian language and this has a great influence also on Friulian pronunciation of Italian. The double consonants (ll, rr, and so on), used a lot in Italian, are nearly absent in Friulian


  • The plural has usually an -s termination
  • Friulian verb infinitives have one of four endings, either -, -, -i, -

Actual condition of Friulian

Missing image
Road signs in Italian and Friulian

Nowadays, Friulian is officially recognized in Italy with the law 482/1999, which protects linguistic minorities; therefore teaching of Friulian was introduced in many primary schools. An online newspaper is active, and there are also a couple of musical groups who use Friulian for their songs, as well as some theatrical companies. In about 40% of the communities in the Province of Udine, road signs are both in Friulian and Italian. There is also an official translation of the Holy Bible. A famous beer brand used Friulian for one of the latest advertisements.


Every city and village in Friuli has a double toponym, one in Italian and one in Friulian. Only the first one is official and can be used in administration, although the Friulian ones will probably have receive partial acknowledgement in the near future. For example, the city of Udine is called Udin in Friulian, while the town of Tolmezzo is called Tumie.

Challenges of standardisation

A challenge that Friulian shares with other minorities is to create a standard language and a unique writing system. Usually, Friulian of central areas of Friuli is considered standard, but not everybody agrees.

Variants of Friulian

We can basically find four dialects of Friulian, all of which can be understood by a native speaker. They are usually distinguished by the last vowel of many part of speech (including nouns, adjectives, adverbs), following this scheme:

  • Friulian of the central Friuli, around Udine
    words end in -e
    used in official documents and generally considered standard
  • Friulian of Carnia (northern Friuli)
    several variants; language can vary with the valleys; words can end in -o, -e, or -a
  • Friulian of Bassa Friulana and isontino (south-eastern Friuli)
    words end in -a
    some features of the pronunciation have been lost; this dialect is closer to Italian
  • Friulian of pordenonese (western Friuli)
    words end in -a
    deep influence from Venetian dialects

For example, the word home becomes cjase in Central Friuli, cjasa or cjaso in other areas.

Writing systems

There are actually two main writing systems:

  • The most common is that approved by the Province of Udine and used in official documents. It uses the same letters that the French language uses: the standard Latin alphabet plus the cedille () and vowels such as , , , , and . This system is the most natural one.
  • An alternative system is called Faggin-Nazzi from the names of the scholars by whom it was proposed. It is also widely used, but it is more difficult for a beginner due to its use of letters such as č that are typical of Slavic languages, but often seem unnatural to native Italian speakers. These letters are used in order to more accurately reflect particular features of Friulian phonology.

Some examples

  • Hello, my name is Jack!
    Mandi, jo o mi clami Jacum!
  • Today the weather is really hot!
    Vu al propite cjalt!
  • I really have to go now, see you
    O scugni propite l cum, ariviodisi
  • I cant go out with you tonight, I have to study
    No pues vign fr usgnot, o ai di studi

External links


de:Furlanische Sprache fr:Frioulan it:Lingua friulana li:Frioels nl:Friulaans nds:Furlan nb:Friulisk sprk pl:Język friulski pt:Friulano


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