The Language Of Sardinia

Sardinian is not a dialect it is a language. The most widely spoken language in Sardinia may be Italian, but the Sardinian language known as Sardo is still widely spoken among locals. It’s a rich and beautiful language. Today, there are over 1,350,000 native or second-language speakers of Sardinian.

Out of all the romance languages (including French, Italian, Spanish and Romanian) Sardo is considered to be the closest descendant of Latin with only an 8% difference in vocabulary, syntax, and phonology. Sardo is unintelligible to Italians, it feels much similar to Spanish than Italian.

Sardo was officially recognised by regional law in 1997, then two years later it was recognised at the national level.

It may be a language closely related to Latin, but much like Sardinians history, it has had many outside influences such as Arabic, Byzantine Greek, Ligurian, Catalan, Spanish, and more recently Italian.

The Sardinian language is fragmented into different dialects varying from area to area throughout the island. Neighbouring villages in Sardinia often have different variations on the language. Locals can easily spot an outsider, even if they’ve only travelled 10km.

The Different Sardinian Dialects

In Sardinia, there are four main dialects of the Sardinian language. Logudorese, Campidanese, Gallurese, and Sassarese. Logudorese and Campidanese are the main two Sardinian dialects and have written standards.

The Logudorese dialect sometimes called Sard or Sardarese is spoken in central northern areas of the island, there are over half-a-million speakers. This dialect also breaks down into many other sub-dialects with various changes such as Northern Logudorese, Nuorese, and Central Logudorese.

Campidanese also is known as Sardu is spoken in the central-southern areas of Sardinia, including the capital of Cagliari. It is quite distinct from other Sardinian dialects. From Campidanese, there are six sub dialects: Arborense, Cagliaritano, Meridonale, Ogliastrino, Guspines, and Villacidrese. The dialect has been influenced heavily by the Spanish and Catalonian. Also, Italian words that arrived in Sardinia later, were often changes to appear more Sardinia, by changing the O vowel at the end of a word to a U.

Gallurese is spoken by 100,000 Sardinians in the Region of Gallura. It is considered a mix of Sardinian, and Corsican. The most antique records of the language come from the 17th century, in the form of poems. There is a strong relation to the south of Corsica, but the dialect was also later influenced by the Logudese dialect, that was in use to the south of Gallura.

Sassarese like Gallurese is another dialect that is a combination of the Corsican language and Sardo. The two islands have been isolated together for centuries, and share many cultural aspects. More than half the population of Sassari speak Sassarese, and there are other Sassarese speaking towns such as Porto Torres and Sorso.

An Endangered Language

Sardinian may be a protected language but it is still endangered. It is spoken widely among the older population of Sardinia but has dropped to less than 13% among Sardinian children.

The language is spoken at home, but the Sardinians often prefer to speak Italian outside the house. The dominance of Italian in schools and mass media has pushed Sardinians further away from their native language.

Unfortunately, Sardo is not taught in Sardinian schools, aside for a few experimental classes. The language was looked down upon, causing many local speakers to view this rich and elegant language with shame. Today, many Sardinians are rediscovering pride in speaking the native national language.

Some towns provide Sardinian languages courses for those interested. There are several well-known Sardinian language music groups such as Tazenda, which continue to promote Sardinia and perform songs in Sardo to crowds of Sardinians singing along with the lyrics.

Examples Of The Sardinian Language

Non Potho Reposare is a popular cultural song in Sardinia, it’s was written 100 years ago. The first verse below is in Sardinia, translated into Italian, and English below.

Non potho reposare amore ‘e coro
Pensende a tie so donzi momentu
No istes in tristura, prenda ‘e oro
Ne in dispiachere o pensamentu
T’assicuro ch’ a tie solu bramo
Ca t’amo forte t’amo, t’amo, t’amo

Non posso riposare, amore del mio cuore,
Ti penso ogni momento
Non essere triste, mio gioiello dorato,
Né dispiaciuta o preoccupata.
Ti assicuro di desiderare solo te
Perché ti amo tanto ti amo, ti amo, ti amo

The love of my heart can’t rest
thinking you every moment
Don’t be sad gold jewel
Don’t be sorry or worried
I assure you that I desire only you
I love you strongly, I love you, I love you

The Brief History Of The Sardinia Language

The language of a country or island is the result of a series of historic events that can only be determined upon future reflection. What led to the introduction and learning of Latin in Sardinia, then why was it abandoned, and why did it disappear to be replaced with Sardo?

The Lliensi or ancient Nuraghic people of Sardinia were opposed to the Carthaginian rule and took refuge among the mountains. The Romans that had been trying to conquer Sardinia since 400bc, finally took it in 238ac, following the second Punic war against Carthage.

The first areas of Sardinia influenced by Latin were Cagliari, and Porto Torres, while the central regions of Sardinia remained conservative and protective.

The native Sardinians joined a Carthage revolt in 215bc against the Romans legions in Sardinia known as the battle of Decimomannu, but the insurgency was crushed. The Carthaginian army later fled to Africa and left the Nuragic people to face severe repression from Rome.

Due to its isolation from the mainland, the Sardinian language was able to retain many of its similarities with Latin, evolving uniquely away from the influence of other romance languages.

Once Latin has made its roots in Sardinia, it was influenced by other cultures for the next two thousand years, giving us the Sardinian language of today. Influenced by the Bizantine, The Pope, Arabs, Kingdom Of Aragon, Spanish, and the pre-Latin languages of Sardinia.

The influence of Italian on the Sardinian didn’t stop, even when the Sardinia was ruled by the Aragonese and then Spanish, the young Sardinians prefered to study in the Italian universities of Pisa and Bologna.

With Italian as the national language, Sardinian then declined politically to the position of dialect, but from linguistic history, the Sardinian language remains an independent language with distinctive features that make it different from the other Romance languages.

The Sardinian language of today, allows Sardinians to communicate spirituality, a language of a fascinating lineage, all the way through history, reuniting with the centuries of the Nuraghi.

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A Summary Of What I Have Learned About Sardinia Over The Last 3 Years

I have been staying in a small village in the north of Sardinia. I’ve written about some things I have learned about Sardinia over the last few years.

Sardinia is like no other place. The island is continually rebuilding its traditions and culture that existed in prehistoric times, before being temporary washed away by invading foreign powers. Sardinia was living in a shadow until the curse of malaria that was eradicated in 1949.

The land is covered in ancient sites, a testament to its wealth and abundance in past millennia. Lying in the centre of the Mediterranean sea, with its neighbour Corsia, it has been of significant strategic importance to empires, the effects can still be seen today.

Luckily, Barbagia and other regions in central Sardinia were strong and determined enough to hold tight to the sacred wisdom, and traditions of Sardinia, during times of invasion. They fortified the mountains, and now invading force could penetrate the cultural heart of Sardinia.

The word Bargagia was coined by the philosopher Cicero, as he referred to the area of Sardinia, as ruled by Barbarians. The traditions and culture remained safe there until it could be dispersed again across the island.

I have noticed the connection that the Sardinian’s, especially the older generation have with nature. A young farmer took me to see the Sardinian grains he had planted in his fields. On the way back, he pointed out several different plots of land, some with goats, and some with vegetable patches.

Each one he said belonged to locals from the town, who work full-time jobs, one was a train driver, another an official in Sassari. Yet when these locals have a moment free they spend it in the countryside, trying to cultivate something to share with their friends and family.

Maybe it’s some goats cheese, pumpkin, honey or, olive oil. It’s deep within the culture of Sardinia to provide some food for yourself and to pass the day with the soil and the sun.

Life in Sardinia is very relaxed, there is time, and space to enjoy life, and reflect. Older men spend their afternoons playing cards together in the local bar, passing time with conversations, and banter. There is no rush, Sardinians simply follow the flow of the day and the seasons.

Most families in the last few centuries have lived very simple lives, raising sheep, and working in the fields. They have lived with little wealth but lives full of enjoyment and satisfaction.

Sardinia was once covered with forests, these were destroyed by the Kingdom of Piemonte that occupied Sardinia. To be used for the construction of railways on the mainland. It is believed that without the trees the water would wash through the valleys of Sardinia, making pools of water that were a breeding ground for mosquitoes that caused much devastation in Sardinia for centries.

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Sardinia Through Giuseppe Biasi

Giuseppe Biasi was a Sardinian painter who lived from 1885 to 1945.

More so than any other artist, Biasi succeeded in capturing the vivid essence of Sardinia. Through his work, we can come a little closer to understanding the atmosphere, customs, and costumes of an older time in Sardinian.

He studied law in his home town of Sassari, after graduating he began a collaboration with the Nobel Prize-winning author Grazia Deladda from Nuoro.

Biasi work is deeply intertwined with the problems of the modern world, and he takes his inspiration from the peasant life in Sardinia. He used his art to overturn how Sardinia was portrayed during the late 19th century. When Sardinia was regarded as a cursed, and wild island, still hidden under a deadly shadow of malaria. He wanted to show the simple, poor, yet rich culture and beautiful lives of the people of this land.

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Seada, Sebada, Sabada, and Seatta

Depending on which region of Sardinia you are the name may be different, but they are most commonly known as Seada, with Seadas being the plural. Seadas is one of the best-known and popular dishes in Sardinia. It’s a sweet treat which manages to encapsulate Sardinia in every bite.

Seada is a semolina dumpling, filled with Pecorino cheese, and topped with honey.

The dessert has its origins in Barbagia before it made its way to other parts of the island with a long history of sheep farming like Ogliastra, Gallura, and Logudoro.

From Savory To Sweet

Today, Seadas is treated as a dessert, but they were originally a savoury dish made with simple ingredients to be enjoyed by the shepherds. Much of Sardinians cuisine and culture has its roots in the pastoral culture of Sardinia. Frugal, simple, and nourishing.

Sardinia has a wide selection of tasty treats for every occasion, but for me, the Seada is the greatest. A must-try for any visitors to the island.

The only sweet ingredient is the honey or sprinkling of sugar on top. All the ingredients are from Sardinia and have been widely available for centuries. In todays recipe, there is a careful balance between the taste of a local

Just imagine fresh pecorino cheese, and local honey, trust me this combination creates a very satisfying dessert.

The best Seadas are those that are freshly made by hand using the best ingredients. You can always find them during Sardinian festivities throughout the year. They have always been part of religious events in the heart of Sardinia.

Each year in Sardinia, there is an event which aims to find the best Seada in all of the land. Aside from finding the best Seada the event promotes the high-quality dairy products and agriculture knowledge of Sardinia.

Today, you can find Seadas in the supermarkets across Sardinia, but it doesn’t compare to the artisanal Seada which bursts with flavour and retains its humble appearance.

The Nine Ingredients Of A Traditional Seada

The original recipe consists of nine ingredients: Fresh pecorino cheese, semolina, eggs, lard, olive oil, local honey, salt, fresh lemon juice, and orange peel.

To make the pastry involves an intense effort on the part of the baker. The cheese filling goes inside the pastry while the edges are shaped to give its unique and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Similar to the way ravioli are formed.

This cheese-filled pastry is between 12-16cm in diameter, and 8-10mm in hight depending on the amount of cheese inside. When its made fresh it should be cooked within two days, before it becomes dry.

The Seadas are traditionally cooked in olive oil. The honey is added at the end or added to the oil for the final frying. To give its crispy and caramelised texture.

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