The village of Plodn (in Italian: Sappada; in German: Pladen), where the German minority language Sappadino is spoken, is located on the upper reaches of the Piave River in the Carnic Alps. The first detailed written source – a document dated 1296 – refers to a settlement already existing “from time immemorial”, which must therefore have occurred decades earlier. According to language historians, the characteristics of the dialect indicate that the settlers migrated from the Puster Valley in East Tyrol.

From 1852 to 2017, the municipality of Plodn/Sappada belonged to the province of Belluno in the Veneto Region; however, in a referendum (in 2008) the population decided to join the province of Udine in the autonomous region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Initially, the settlers lived mostly in isolation and had little contact with the German-speaking territories or with the Romance contact varieties: as a result, the German minority language of Old Tyrolean and South Bavarian origin has retained some features of an older linguistic status.

With the beginning of the 20th century, Plodn/Sappada opened up more and more to the outside world, partly due to the growth of tourism in the Alps. At the same time, school education in Italian as well as the spread of Italian-language mass media caused a decreasing use of Sappadino within the local community. Nevertheless, nowadays the older inhabitants are often still bilingual or trilingual: the public language is Italian, while in the private sphere or at work (Carnic) Friulan is also used as colloquial language. In the family, Sappadino is spoken. Thanks to a number of laws for the protection of minorities in Italy (in particular State law no. 482 from 1999 for the protection of historical language minorities), the situation of Sappadino has improved again. For instance, there are projects in schools and kindergartens aimed at promoting minority language and minority culture. In addition, publications promote the written form of the language and, hence, contribute to its preservation.

Further reading

  • Benedetti, Marcella & Cristina Kratter (2010): Plodar Berterpuich. Vocabolario sappadino – italiano, italiano – sappadino. Comune di Sappada/Associazione Plodar: Grafiche Antiga srl.
  • Franz, Sebastian (2021): Mehrsprachigkeit und Identität. Die alpindeutsche Siedlung Sappada/Pladen/Plodn. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner.
  • Geyer, Ingeborg (2018): Wortschatzentwicklung in den Sprachinseln Sappada/Pladen, Sauris/Zahre und Timau/Tischelwang im historischen Friaul. Germanistische Linguistik 239-240, 325–343.
  • Hornung, Maria (1995): Pladner Wörterbuch. Glossario Sappadino. Revisione italiana di Anna Gasser. Vienna: Edition Praesens.

Online resource