The dialects spoken in the province of Trento are of Romance origin. Its varieties are Venetan in the eastern part of the province and Lombard in the Western part; the central area has mixed characteristics; in the lower Adige Valley there is a transition dialect between the central Trentino and the Verona variety.

Typically Lombard linguistic features are the deletion of all vowels at the end of the word except for a (e.g. òs for Italian osso ‘bone’), the presence of so-called “vocali turbate”, i.e., vowels resembling the German ü and ö (e.g. in lüna for luna ‘moon’), and the palatalization of the plural of names and adjectives ending in -t.

Venetan features are the preservation of unstressed final vowels other than a (oso for osso ‘bone’) and the absence of “vocali turbate”. In the valleys of Non, Sole, Ledro Superior and Rendena there are so-called “alpine” (or semi-Ladin) linguistic features such as the palatalization of Latin ca and ga (ciasa for casa ‘home’). 

In the area of syntax, there are also notable differences between Italian and the Trentino dialects. For example, to say ‘it has snowed’ in Italian, one would say ha/è nevicato. However, in Trentino (as in some Venetan varieties), you would have to add in the clitic pronoun el or l’ (known as either expletive or impersonal subject) to form a grammatical sentence, as can be heard in two examples.



L’a fiocà (Lavis, S0136_tre_U0409, Rabanus et al. 2022)


L’a nevegà (Trento, S0136_tre_U0451, Rabanus et al. 2022) 


The use of this so-called expletive with weather verbs is common in languages such as English (it has snowed), standard German (es hat geschneit) and also in the local Germanic varieties, like Cimbrian (z hatt gesnibet; S0136_cim_U0620, Rabanus et al. 2022), and it has been proposed that contact with German and a superficial resemblance of the pattern might have played a role in preserving these expletives in the Trentino dialects (Tomaselli & Bidese 2023).

The dialects are still widely used, especially in the valleys. ISTAT data for 2015 show that, in the family, 30% of speakers mainly use dialect and 24.8% use both dialect and Italian. There are few texts written in the dialect before the 19th century: the first document is the Statuto dei Battuti della città di Trento (14th century). In the 19th and 20th centuries the dialect was used for poetic and theatre texts. Giovan Battista Azzolini’s first dialect dictionary is from 1856.


  • Rabanus, Stefan, Anne Kruijt, Marta Tagliani, Alessandra Tomaselli, Andrea Padovan, Birgit Alber, Patrizia Cordin, Roberto Zamparelli & Barbara Maria Vogt (2022): VinKo (Varieties in Contact) Corpus v1.1. Bolzano-Bozen: ERCC.