A concise grammar
I paroll d'on lenguagg, car sur Gorell,
hin ona tavolozza de color,
che ponn fà el quader brutt e el ponn fà bell,
segond la maestrìa del pittor.
Senza idej, senza gust, senza on cervell
che regola i paroll in del descor,
tutt i lenguagg del mond hin come quell
che parla on sò umilissem servitor.
E sti idej, sto bon gust, già el savarà
che no han privativa di paês,
ma di coo che gh'han flemma de studià:
Tant l'è vera che, in bocca de usciurìa,
el bellissem lenguagg di Sienês
l'è el lenguagg pu cojon che mai ghe sia.
Carlo Porta, 1812
Milanese is spoken in Milan, Italy, and a big portion of its neighborhood. It has been said that a language is a dialect with an army.According to this view Milanese is considered by the layman a dialect of Italian. However, Milanese is to be classified as a Gallo-Romance language, therefore coordinate with French, Piedmontese, Ligurian, Rumantsch, Ladin and, most of all, with Occitan and Catalan.
Despite being a distant cousin, Italian has nevertheless exerted a strong influence on Milanese along the course of its history.Since the times of Renaissance, educated Milanese have always been conversant with standard Italian and they have been using it forlearned and literary writing. However they would use Milanese in their everyday family life, for drawing-room conversations and, not surprisingly,to communicate with the common people.
In recent times, the fascist regime first, imposing the national language with the force and fighting against any minority language,and then the spread of Rome-based Italian state radio and television and massive immigration from other regions of Italy after the end ofWorld War II have put Milanese in jeopardy.
Today, very few youngsters use it other than forshort phrases in the middle of Italian sentences,and fewer and fewer of them even understand it,although in the countryside at least this is not always true.
Milanese is written using a latin alphabet of 22 letters, plus a few diacritic signs: Acute accent, grave accent and circumflex accent.The alphabet is the following:
a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, z.
There are nine distinct vowels. Four of them appear only in stressed syllables, and the remaining five can appear everywhere.The four "unstressed" vowels are the following:
The four "stressed" vowels are the following:
Milanese has two genders, masculine and feminine, and two numbers, singular and plural.
There are two articles in Milanese: Definite article and indeterminate article.
The definite article agrees in number and gender with the noun;the masculine singular has two forms depending on whether the followingword has a leading vowel or a consonant:
When used in conjunction with the definite article, prepositionstend to contract with it, yielding the so-called articulate prepositions:
|a||al||a l'||a la||ai|
|cont||cont el / col||con l'||con la||cont i / coi|
|da||dal||da l'||da la||dai|
|de||del||de l'||de la||di|
|in||in del||in (de) l'||in (de) la||in di|
|su||sul||su l'||su la||sui|
The indeterminate article uses two roots for singular and plural.The root used for singular forms is on-, akin to the numeral vun, "one", whereas the plural formis in fact the articulate preposition di which introduces apartitive complement:
Feminine nouns are usually marked by the -a ending in thesingular form; there is no morphological distinction between masculineand feminine in the plural.Exceptions to this rule are all feminine abstract nouns formed with thesuffix -zion.
In general nouns are classified according to gender in the same way as theyare in Italian.
Nouns for which this rule does not hold are the following:el martor, "the marten";el verz, "the savoy";la pàssera, "the sparrow";el foìn, "the beech-marten";la gira, "the loir";la saa, "the salt";la spuzza, "the stink";la midôlla, "the marrow";la spua, "the spit";l'assa, "the beam";la bugada, "the laundry";el bombàs, "the cotton wool";la bazzila, "the basin";l'éco, "the echo";la guaja, "the woe";el sciavàtt, "the slipper";la fanga, "the mud";la zòccora, "the clog", "the hoof";la rama, "the (secondary) branch" (the main branch is masculine: el ramm);la gnaccia, "a chestnut cake";el canef/canov, "the hemp", "the cannabis";el pures, "the flea";el scimes, "the bug";la purisna, "the itch";el capnégher, "the blackcap";el tremacôa, "the wagtail";el salìn, "the salt pot";el popoeu, "the pupil (of an eye)";el sciabel/sciabol, "the sabre";Milán, "Milan";Parìs, "Paris";el Cairo, "Cairo".
The following nouns have alternate masculine and feminine classification (forms are listed according to how common they are, most common first):la badila/el badil, "the shovel";el/la sògn, "the dream";el/la lumm, "the lamp";l'ari/l'aria, "the air";l'èstes/l'èstasi, "the extasy";la s'giaffa/el s'giaff, "the slap";la schinca/el stinch, "the shin";el poián/la poianna, "the buzzard";el parpaj/la parpàja, "the butterfly".
As a general rule, masculine nouns have the same form for both singularand plural. However, there are a few notable exceptions to this rule:
Feminine nouns ending in -a form their plural by simplydropping that ending, for examplesg. la donna, "the woman", pl. i donn, "the women";sg. l'ideja, "the idea", pl. i idej, "the ideas".
Feminine nouns not ending in -a have the same form for both singularand plural.
Personal pronouns come in two forms: Isolated or prefix to a verb.Prefix third person personal pronouns have different forms depending onwhether they are used as subject or object (direct/indirect).
|3rd sg.||m. lù
|m. el, l'
Note: The first person singular and third person pluralprefix subject pronoun a can be heard in peripheric or rural variantsof Milanese. There is reason to believe that this form is an archaism whichhas now largely fallen out of use.
The third person posessive pronouns are the same for both singular and plural, whereas other persons distinguish between singular and plural.
Unlike other Romance languages, cardinal numbers from one to three have different forms for the two genders.
Like in all Romance languages, cardinal numerals between ten and twenty are formed in an irregular way, but the formation of greater numbers follows few simple rules.
|1st sg.||mì son(t)|
|2nd sg.||tì te see(t)|
|3rd sg.||lù/lee l'è||~ ell|
|1st pl.||nun semm|
|2nd pl.||vujolter sii|
|3rd pl.||lor (a) hin|
Note: The alternate third person singular form ellis only used in isolation, that is when the verb is not preceded by the prefixpronoun.In contemporary Milanese this seldom happens, with a few notable exceptionsin idiomatic expressions, such as t'ell chì, "here it is" orin questions, e.g. chi ell che no ha de dì che ..., literally"who is the one who doesn't have to say that ...,ell fors che no ghe piasen sti reson? "Is it maybe that you don't likethese reasons?".In fact, ell is the fossilized contraction of a form è-el, "is it", which shows inversion of verb and prefix subjectpronoun.
The verb avé is used as an auxiliary verb for transitive verbs. Its conjugation changes when it is used as a verb meaning "to have".In that case avé is always in conjunction with the particleghe, yielding the verb avégh.
|1st sg.||mì hoo||~ gh'hoo|
|2nd sg.||tì t'hee(t)||~ te gh'hee|
|3rd sg.||lù/lee l'ha||~ el/la gh'ha|
|1st pl.||nun emm||~ gh'avemm|
|2nd pl.||vujolter hii||~ gh'avii|
|3rd pl.||lor han||~ gh'han|
Below is a sample of Milanese words:
el per, "the pear";el pòmm, "the apple";el narànz, "the orange";el figh, "the fig";el pèrsegh, "the peach";el ribes, "the currant";el mandarin, "the tangerine";el fambrôs, "the raspberry";la scirésa, "the cherry";la magiostra, "the strawberry";la nôs, "the nut";la mognaga, "the apricot";la brugna, "the plum";la niscioeula, "the hazelnut";la mòra, "the blackberry";l'uga, "the grape";el pinciroeu, "the grape" (the single fruit in a bunch).la nèspola, "the medlar";el pignoeu, "the pine-kernel";spiurì, "to itch";l'erborin, "the parsley";el sèller, "the celery";borlà giò, "to fall";scarligà, "to slide";spetascià, "to squash";la schiscetta, "the packed lunch";dervì, "to open";sarà su, "to close";el ciar, "the light";la cà, "the house", "the home";l'oeuf, "the egg";l'oeucc, "the eye";la bocca, "the mouth";el coo, "the head";el brasc, "the arm";la gamba, "the leg";el coeur, "the heart";la s'cenna, "the back";el cuu, "the butt";, "".