The name Cimbrian refers to the three varieties spoken in the Germanic language islands of Luserna/Lusérn, in the province of Trento (which still has several hundred speakers), Giazza/Ljetzan in the historical area of the “13 Comuni” (13 Municipalities) in the province of Verona (a few dozen speakers) and Roana/Robaan in the historical area of the “VII Comuni” (7 Municipalities) of the Asiago Plateau, in the province of Vicenza (not more than 10 speakers). The Cimbrian community of Cansiglio (provinces of Belluno and Treviso), where traces of the historic language remain at the lexical level (especially in place names), is also associated with these communities. From a historical point of view Cimbrian, in its different variants, belongs to the dialect group of Southern Bavarian, and the first settlements in the Venetian area can be traced back to the 11th century. The history of the Cimbrian settlements in the so-called “Triveneto” area and the linguistic characteristics of this Germanic variety spoken in isolation for many centuries have attracted the attention of scholars since the 19th century, and have received renewed attention in the last twenty years thanks to studies on linguistic contact.

Of special interest is the combination of conservative features (in particular the syntax of pronouns, and negation) and innovative features (e.g. the verb-object order and the position of the inflected verb), which cannot always be attributed directly to pressure or influence from the neighbouring Romance varieties. The tradition of Cimbrian as a written language is of considerable importance, from the first Cimbrian translation of catechism (1602) to the recent establishment of the literature competition “Toenle Bintarn“, in its eleventh edition in 2022.

ISO code: 639-3 cim

Further reading

Other community-created online resources

  • Bóartpuuch (Dictionary of Cimbrian of the Seven Municipalities)
  • Mediateca Cimbra (Platform for the dissimination of the Cimbrian language)
  • Zimbarbort (Dictionary Cimbrian-Italian, Lusérn)
  • CLAM 2021 (Cimbro Ladino Mocheno 2021) investigates language use and attitudes of minority language speakers of the Atesina area.

Websites of the Cimbrian communities