Archive for the 'Language' Category

What language did the Normans of Sicily speak?

Apr 21 2012 Published by under Language,Normans

Jack asks if the Normans of Sicily spoke French or Italian.  Roger I and his successors spoke the Norman dialect of French.  But though this was the court language it wasn’t adopted by most subjects.  (In a similar manner Norman French became the ‘official’ language of England for roughly two centuries, but the wider population retained their Anglo-Saxon)  Most of the Norman’s subjects spoke Greek or Arabic, and continued to do so.  The greatest linguistic influx was Italian as the Norman kings brought in mainlanders to repopulate land abandoned by the Saracens.  Gradually this formed a unique language- Italian with loan words from French, Greek, and to a lesser extent Arabic.  This Sicilian dialect still persists, though of course with modern communications and mobility its future is uncertain.  Mainland Italian is taught in schools and the younger generation of Sicilians are much more likely to speak it then their regional dialect.

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