Ladin language

Ladin (/ləˈdn/,[5][6] also UK: /læˈdn/;[7] autonym: ladin, Italian: ladino; German: Ladinisch) is a Romance language consisting of a group of dialects that some consider part of a unitary Rhaeto-Romance language, mainly spoken in the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy in the provinces of South Tyrol, the Trentino, and the Belluno, by the Ladin people. It exhibits similarities to Swiss Romansh and Friulian.

lingaz Ladin
Native toItalyDolomite Mountains, Non Valley
RegionTrentino-South Tyrol
Native speakers
41,129 (2006[1] - 2011[2][3])
Official status
Regulated byThe office for Ladin language planning
Ladin Cultural Centre Majon di Fascegn
Istitut Ladin Micurà de Rü
Istituto Ladin de la Dolomites
Language codes
ISO 639-3lld
Languages of
South Tyrol.
Majorities per municipality in 2011:
Languages of
Percentage per municipality in 2011:
Languages of
the Province of Belluno.
Recognized Ladin area

The precise extension of the Ladin language area is the subject of scholarly debates. A more narrow perspective includes only the dialects of the valleys around the Sella group, while wider definitions comprise the dialects of adjacent valleys in the Province of Belluno and even dialects spoken in the northwestern Trentino.[8][9]

A standard written variety of Ladin (Ladin Dolomitan) has been developed by the Office for Ladin Language Planning as a common communication tool across the whole Ladin-speaking region,[10] but it is not popular among Ladin speakers.

Ladin should not be confused with Ladino (i.e. Judeo-Spanish), which, although also Romance, is derived from Old Spanish.

Geographic distribution

Ladin is recognized as a minority language in 54 Italian municipalities[11] belonging to the provinces of South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno. It is not possible to assess the exact number of Ladin speakers, because only in the provinces of South Tyrol and Trentino are the inhabitants asked to identify their native language in the general census of the population, which takes place every 10 years.

South Tyrol

In the 2011 census, 20,548 inhabitants of South Tyrol declared Ladin as their native language.[2] Ladin is an officially recognised language, taught in schools and used in public offices (in written as well as spoken form).[12]

The following municipalities of South Tyrol have a majority of Ladin speakers:

Ladin nameInhabitantsLadin speakers
La Val129997.66%
San Martin de Tor173396.71%
Santa Cristina Gherdëina187391.40%
Province total505,067[14]4.53%


In the 2011 census, 18,550 inhabitants of Trentino declared Ladin as their native language.[3] It is prevailing in the following municipalities of Trentino in the Fassa Valley, where Ladin is recognized as a minority language:

Italian nameLadin nameInhabitantsLadin speakersPercentage
Campitello di FassaCiampedel74060882.2%
Pozza di FassaPoza2,1381,76582.6%
Vigo di FassaVich1,2071,05987.7%
Province total526,51018,5503.5%

The Nones language in the Non Valley and the related Solandro language found in the Sole Valley are Gallo-Romance languages and often grouped together into a single linguistic unit due to their similarity. They are spoken in 38 municipalities but have no official status. Their more precise classification is uncertain. Both dialects show a strong resemblance to Trentinian dialect and Eastern Lombard, and scholars debate whether they are Ladin dialects or not.

About 23% of the inhabitants from Val di Non and 1.5% from Val di Sole declared Ladin as their native language at the 2011 census. The number of Ladin speakers in those valleys amounts to 8,730, outnumbering the native speakers in the Fassa Valley.[15] In order to stress the difference between the dialects in Non and Fassa valleys, it has been proposed to distinguish between ladins dolomitiches (Dolomitic Ladinians) and ladins nonejes (Non Valley Ladinians) at the next census.[16]

Province of Belluno

There is no linguistic census in the province of Belluno, but the number of Ladin speakers has been estimated using a 2006 survey. In this area, there are about 1,166 people who speak the standard Ladin and 865 who speak the dialect of Ladin, so out of 8,495 inhabitants they are the 23.9%. They live in the part of the province that was part of the County of Tyrol until 1918, comprising the communes of Cortina d'Ampezzo (15.6% Ladin), Colle Santa Lucia (50.6% Ladin) and Livinallongo del Col di Lana (54.3% Ladin).[1]

Italian nameLadin nameInhabitantsLadin speakersPercentage
Cortina d'AmpezzoAnpezo6,6301,03415.6%
Colle Santa LuciaCol43422050.6%
Livinallongo del Col di LanaFodóm1,43177754.3%

The provincial administration of Belluno has enacted to identify Ladin as a minority language in additional municipalities. Those are: Agordo, Alleghe, Auronzo di Cadore, Borca di Cadore, Calalzo di Cadore, Canale d'Agordo, Cencenighe Agordino, Cibiana di Cadore, Comelico Superiore, Danta di Cadore, Domegge di Cadore, Falcade, Forno di Zoldo, Gosaldo, La Valle Agordina, Lozzo di Cadore, Ospitale di Cadore, Perarolo di Cadore, Pieve di Cadore, Rivamonte Agordino, Rocca Pietore, San Nicolò di Comelico, San Pietro di Cadore, San Tomaso Agordino, San Vito di Cadore, Santo Stefano di Cadore, Selva di Cadore, Taibon Agordino, Vallada Agordina, Valle di Cadore, Vigo di Cadore, Vodo di Cadore, Voltago Agordino, Zoldo Alto, Zoppè di Cadore. Ladinity in the province of Belluno is more ethnic than linguistic. The varieties spoken by Ladin municipalities are Venetian alpine dialects, which are grammatically no different to those spoken in municipalities that did not declare themselves as Ladin.[17] Their language is called Ladino Bellunese.[18]

All Ladin dialects spoken in the province of Belluno, including those in the former Tyrolean territories, enjoy a varying degree of influence from Venetian.[19]


The name derives from Latin, because Ladin is originally a Vulgar Latin language left over from the Romanized Alps. Ladin is often attributed to be a relic of Vulgar Latin dialects associated with Rhaeto-Romance languages. Whether a proto-Romance language ever existed is controversially discussed amongst linguists and historians, a debate known as Questione Ladina. Starting in the 6th century, the Bavarii started moving in from the north, while from the south Gallo-Italic languages started pushing in, which further shrank the original extent of the Ladin area. Only in the more remote mountain valleys did Ladin survive among the isolated populations.

Starting in the very early Middle Ages, the area was mostly ruled by the County of Tyrol or the Bishopric of Brixen, both belonging to the realms of the Austrian Habsburg rulers. The area of Cadore was under the rule of the Republic of Venice. During the period of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and, after 1804, the Austrian Empire, the Ladins underwent a process of Germanization.

After the end of World War I in 1918, Italy annexed the southern part of Tyrol, including the Ladin areas. The Italian nationalist movement of the 19th and 20th centuries regarded Ladin as an "Italian dialect", a notion rejected by various Ladin exponents and associations,[21] despite their having been counted as Italians by the Austrian authorities as well. The programme of Italianization, professed by fascists such as Ettore Tolomei and Benito Mussolini, added further pressure on the Ladin communities to subordinate their identities to Italian. This included changing Ladin place names into the Italian pronunciation according to Tolomei's Prontuario dei nomi locali dell'Alto Adige.

Following the end of World War II, the Gruber-De Gasperi Agreement of 1946 between Austria and Italy introduced a level of autonomy for Trentino and South Tyrol but did not include any provisions for the Ladin language. Only in the second autonomy statute for South Tyrol in 1972 was Ladin recognized as a partially official language.


Ladin is officially recognised in Trentino and South Tyrol by provincial and national law. Italy signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages of 1991, but it has not ratified it so far. The charter calls for minority rights to be respected and minority languages, to which Ladin belongs, to be appropriately protected and promoted. Starting in the 1990s, the Italian parliament and provincial assembly have passed laws and regulations protecting the Ladin language and culture. A cultural institute was founded to safeguard and educate in the language and culture. School curricula were adapted in order to teach in Ladin, and street signs are being changed to bilingual.[22]

Ladin is also recognized as a protected language in the Province of Belluno in Veneto region pursuant to the Standards for Protection of Historic Language Minorities Act No. 482 (1999). In comparison with South Tyrol and Trentino, the wishes of the Ladins have barely been addressed by the regional government. In a popular referendum in October 2007, the inhabitants of Cortina d'Ampezzo overwhelmingly voted to leave Veneto and return to South Tyrol.[23][24] The redrawing of the provincial borders would return Cortina d'Ampezzo, Livinallongo del Col di Lana and Colle Santa Lucia to South Tyrol, to which they traditionally belonged when part of the County of Tyrol or the Bishopric of Brixen.

Although the Ladin communities are spread out over three neighbouring regions, the Union Generala di Ladins dles Dolomites is asking that they be reunited.[25] The Ladin Autonomist Union and the Fassa Association run on a Ladin list and have sought more rights and autonomy for Ladin speakers. Ladins are also guaranteed political representations in the assemblies of Trentino and South Tyrol due to a reserved seats system.

In South Tyrol, in order to reach a fair allocation of jobs in public service, a system called "ethnic proportion" was established in the 1970s. Every 10 years, when the general census of population takes place, each citizen has to identify with a linguistic group. The results determine how many potential positions in public service are allocated for each linguistic group. This has theoretically enabled Ladins to receive guaranteed representation in the South Tyrolean civil service according to their numbers.

The recognition of minority languages in Italy has been criticised since the implementation of Act No. 482 (1999), especially due to alleged financial benefits. This applies also to Ladin language, especially in the province of Belluno.[26]


A possible subdivision of Ladin language[27] identifies six major groups.

Athesian Group of the Sella

The dialects of the Athesian group (from the river Adige Basin) of the Sella are spoken in South Tyrol:

  • Gherdëina, spoken in Val Gardena by 8,148 inhabitants (80–90% of the population);
  • Badiot and Maró, spoken in Val Badia and in Mareo by 9,229 people, i.e. 95%, as native language.

The South Tyrolean dialects are most similar to the original Ladin.

Trentinian Group of the Sella

The names of the Ladin dialects spoken in the Fassa Valley in Trentino are Moenat, Brach, and Cazet. 82.8% of the inhabitants of Fassa Valley are native Ladin speakers;[29] the Ladin language in Fassa is influenced by Trentinian dialects.

Agordino Group of the Sella

In the Province of Belluno the following dialects are considered as part of the Agordino group:

  • Fodom, also called Livinallese, spoken in Livinallongo del Col di Lana and Colle Santa Lucia, native language of 80–90% of the people;
  • Rocchesano in the area of Rocca Pietore. While Laste di Sopra (Ladin Laste de Sora) and Sottoguda (Ladin Stagùda) are predominantly Ladin, in Alleghe, San Tomaso, and Falcade so-called Ladin-Venetian dialects are spoken, with strong Venetian influence;
  • Ladin in the area of Agordo and Valle del Biois, even if some regard it rather as Venetian-Ladin.

Ampezzan Group

Spoken in Cortina d'Ampezzo (Anpezo), similar to Cadorino dialect.

Even in Valle di Zoldo (from Forno-Fôr upwards) there are elements of the Ampezzan Group.

Cadorino Group

Spoken in Cadore and Comelico and best known as Cadorino dialect.[30]

Nones and Solandro Group

In Western Trentino, in Non Valley, Val di Sole, Val di Peio, Val di Rabbi, and part of Val Rendena, detached from the dolomitic area, dialects are spoken that are often considered to be part of the Ladin language (Anaunic Ladin), but enjoy strong influences from Trentinian and Eastern Lombard dialects.

Låger / Nortades Group

In other areas of South Tyrol, particularly in the Unterland, the dialects of the towns of Kurtatsch, Kurtinig, Laag, and Salurn, are also often considered to be part of the Ladin language (Nortades Ladin). However, among the most important features of these dialects is the plural ending in j / e for masculine and feminine nouns (respectively) and a stronger influence of Tyrolean - German dialects.

Sample texts

Lord's Prayer

The first part of the 'Lord's Prayer' in Standard Ladin, Latin, and Italian for comparison, as well as other Romance languages and English:

Ladin Latin Italian Låger Spanish Portuguese French Romanian English

Pere nost, che t'ies en ciel,
al sie santifiché ti inom,
al vegne ti regn,
sia fata tia volonté,
coche en ciel enscì en tera.

Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in caelo, et in terra.

Padre nostro che sei nei cieli,
sia santificato il tuo Nome,
venga il tuo Regno,
sia fatta la tua Volontà
come in cielo così in terra.

Pare noss qe ses ntej cjej,
l sia santificà'l to nom,
l vegna'l to rejgn,
sia faata la to volontà
lijstös ntèra e ntel cjel.

Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos,
santificado sea tu Nombre,
venga tu Reino,
hágase tu Voluntad
así en la tierra como en el cielo.

Pai nosso, que estais no céu,
Santificado seja o Vosso nome,
Venha a nós o Vosso reino,
Seja feita a sua vontade
Assim na terra como no céu.

Notre Père, qui es aux cieux,
Que ton nom soit sanctifié,
Que ton règne vienne,
Que ta volonté soit faite
sur la terre comme au ciel.

Tatăl nostru, care ești în ceruri,
Sfințească-se numele Tău,
Vie împărăția Ta,
Facă-se voia Ta,
Precum în cer așa și pre pământ.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Common phrases

English Italian Gherdëina Fassa Valley Zoldo Alleghe Nones Solandro Låger
What's your name? Come ti chiami? Co es'a inuem? Co èste pa inom? Ke asto gnóm? kome te ciameto? Come te clames po?
(Che gias nom po?)
Che jas nòm po? Come te cjames tive po?
How old are you? Quanti anni hai? Tan d'ani es'a? Cotenc egn èste pa? Quainch agn asto? Kotanc agn asto? Canti ani gias po? Cuanti àni gh'às/jas po? Qanti an' gås tive po?
I go home. Vado a casa. Vede a cësa. Vae a cèsa. Vade a casa. Vade a ciesa. Von a ciasa. Von a chjasô / casa. Vonn a maſon / cà
Where do you live? Dove abiti? Ulà stessa? Olà stèste pa? An do stasto? Ulà stasto? En do abites? Ndo abites po? Ndo abites tive po?
I live in Trent. Vivo a Trento. Stei a Trent. Stae ja Trent. Staghe a Trento. Stae a Trient. Ston a Trent Ston a Trent Stonn a Treant


Consonant phonemes[31]
Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless ts
voiced dz
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
Trill r
Approximant l
Vowel phonemes[31]
Front Central Back
Close i u
Close mid e o
Open mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

The [ɜ] vowel, spelled ë, as in Urtijëi (pronunciation ), occurs in some local dialects but is not a part of Standard Ladin.

See also


  1. Iannaccaro, Gabriele. "SURVEY LADINS. USI LINGUISTICI NELLE VALLI LADINE": 196. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. "South Tyrol in Figures" (PDF). Declaration of language group affiliation – Population Census 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  3. "15° Censimento della popolazione e delle abitazioni. Rilevazione sulla consistenza e la dislocazione territoriale degli appartenenti alle popolazioni di lingua ladina, mòchena e cimbra (dati provvisori)" (PDF). A (in Italian). Autonomous Province of Trento. 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  4. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ladin". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. "Ladin". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  6. "Ladin". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  7. "Ladin". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  8. Giovan Battista Pellegrini: Ladinisch: Interne Sprachgeschichte II. Lexik. In: Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik, III. Tübingen, Niemeyer 1989, ISBN 3-484-50250-9, p. 667: È necessaria innanzi tutto una precisazione geografica circa l'estensione del gruppo linguistico denominato «ladino centrale», dato che le interpretazioni possono essere varie.
  9. Johannes Kramer: Ladinisch: Grammatikographie und Lexikographie. In: Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik, III. Tübingen, Niemeyer 1989, ISBN 3-484-50250-9, p. 757: Im folgenden sollen die Grammatiken und Wörterbücher im Zentrum stehen, die das Dolomitenladinische im engeren Sinne ([...] Gadertalisch [...], Grödnerisch, Buchensteinisch, Fassanisch [...]) behandeln, während Arbeiten zum Cadorinischen [...] und zum Nonsbergischen [...] summarisch behandelt werden.
  10. The office for Ladin language planning
  11. SECOND REPORT SUBMITTED BY ITALY PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 25, PARAGRAPH 2 OF THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES (received on 14 May 2004), APPROPRIATELY IDENTIFIED TERRITORIAL AREAS Decisions adopted by provincial councils, European Council; the Municipality of Calalzo di Cadore was recognized following the decision adopted by the provincial council of Belluno on 25 June 2003.
  13. The subdivisions Bula, Roncadic and Sureghes have a majority of ladin speakers
  14. Census data 2011
  15. "Ladini: i nonesi superano i fassani". Trentino Corriere Alpi. 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  16. "La pruma valutazions del diretor de l'Istitut Cultural Ladin Fabio Ciocchetti". La Usc di Ladins, nr. 26 /06 de messel 2012, p. 25. 2012. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  17. Italian Ministry of Education, contributions among others by Prof. Gabriele Jannaccaro, Univ. Milano-Bicocca, La ladinità bellunese è piuttosto etnica che linguistica, e le varietà parlate dei comuni ladini sono dei dialetti veneti alpini grammaticalmente non diversi da quelli dei comuni che non si sono dichiarati ladini (Ladinity in the province of Belluno is more ethnic than linguistic, and the varieties spoken by Ladin municipalities are Venetian alpine dialects grammatically identical to those spoken in the municipalities that did not declare themselves as Ladin)
  18. Paul Videsott, Chiara Marcocci, Bibliografia retoromanza 1729–2010 Archived 16 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Map showing similarity of dialects around Belluno, from "Dialectometric Analysis of the Linguistic Atlas of Dolomitic Ladin and Neighbouring Dialects (ALD-I & ALD-II)" by Prof. Dr. Roland Bauer, 2012, University of Salzburg
  20. |First Ladin-Gherdëina
  21. "Die Ladiner betrachten sich seit jeher als eigenständige Ethnie" and "Wir sind keine Italiener, wollen von jeher nicht zu ihnen gezählt werden und wollen auch in Zukunft keine Italiener sein! (..) Tiroler sind wir und Tiroler wollen wir bleiben!" (The ladins view themselves as a distinct ethnic group: ... we are not Italians and since ever do not want to be considered as part of them! We are Tyroleans and we want to stay Tyroleans!) from Die questione ladina – Über die sprachliche und gesellschaftliche Situation der Dolomitenladiner by Martin Klüners, ISBN 9 783638 159159
  22. "Canazei – Skiferie i Canazei i Italien" (in Danish). 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  23. "Cresce la Voglia di Trentino Alto Adige Quorum Raggiunto a Cortina d'Ampezzo". La Repubblica (in Italian). 28 October 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  24. "Cortina Vuole Andare in Alto Adige". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 29 October 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  25. Homepage of the Union Generala di Ladins dles Dolomites
  26. Fiorenzo Toso, Univ. di Sassari: I benefici (soprattutto di natura economica) previsti dalla legge482/1999 hanno indotto decine di amministrazioni comunali a dichiarare una inesistente appartenenza a questa o a quella minoranza: col risultato, ad esempio, che le comunità di lingua ladina si sono moltiplicate nel Veneto (financial benefits provided by the law 482/1999 led dozens of municipalities to declare a non-existent affiliation to some minority, resulting e.g. in a multiplication of the Ladin-speaking communities in the Veneto region)
  27. Mário Eduardo Viaro, O reto-românico: unidade e fragmentação. Caligrama. Belo Horizonte, 14: 101–156, December 2009.
  28. File from Archiv Radio Ladin – Alex Moroder Mediathek Bozen Signatur CRLG_216_Spur2
  29. Tav. I.5 appartenenza alla popolazione di lingua ladina (censimento 2001), Annuario statistico della provincia autonoma di Trento 2006 – Tav. I.5
  30. Giovan Battista Pellegrini, I dialetti ladino-cadorini, Miscellanea di studi alla memoria di Carlo Battisti, Firenze, Istituto di studi per l'Alto Adige, 1979
  31. Gramatica dl Ladin Standard, Servisc de Planificazion y Elaborazion dl Lingaz Ladin, 2001, ISBN 88-8171-029-3 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

Further reading

  • Rut Bernardi, Curs de gherdëina – Trëdesc lezions per mparé la rujeneda de Gherdëina/Dreizehn Lektionen zur Erlernung der grödnerischen Sprache. St. Martin in Thurn: Istitut Ladin Micurà de Rü, 1999, ISBN 88-8171-012-9
  • Vittorio Dell'Aquila und Gabriele Iannàccaro, Survey Ladins: Usi linguistici nelle Valli Ladine. Trient: Autonome Region Trentino-Südtirol, 2006, ISBN 88-86053-69-X
  • Marco Forni: Wörterbuch Deutsch–Grödner-Ladinisch. Vocabuler tudësch–ladin de Gherdëina. Istitut Ladin Micurà de Rü, St. Martin in Thurn 2002, ISBN 88-8171-033-1
  • Günter Holtus, Michael Metzeltin, Christian Schmitt, eds., Lexikon der Romanistischen Linguistik (LRL), 12 vols. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1988–2005; vol. 3: Die einzelnen romanischen Sprachen und Sprachgebiete von der Renaissance bis zur Gegenwart. Rumänisch, Dalmatisch / Istroromanisch, Friaulisch, Ladinisch, Bündnerromanisch, 1989.
  • Theodor Gartner, Ladinische Wörter aus den Dolomitentälern. Halle: Niemeyer, 1913 (Online version)
  • Maria Giacin Chiades, ed., Lingua e cultura ladina. Treviso: Canova, 2004, ISBN 88-8409-123-3 ()
  • Constanze Kindel, "Ladinisch für Anfänger", Die Zeit 4 (2006) (Online version)
  • Heinrich Schmid, Wegleitung für den Aufbau einer gemeinsamen Schriftsprache der Dolomitenladiner. St. Martin in Thurn: Istitut Cultural Ladin Micurà de Rü & San Giovanni: Istitut Cultural Ladin Majon di Fascegn, 1994 (Online version)
  • Giampaolo Salvo, "Ladin", in The Oxford Guide to the Romance Languages, eds. Adam Ledgeway & Martin Maiden. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 154–68.
  • Servisc de Planificazion y Elaborazion dl Lingaz Ladin (SPELL), Gramatica dl Ladin Standard. St. Martin in Thurn, Istitut Cultural Ladin Micurà de Rü, 2001, ISBN 88-8171-029-3 ( Online version)
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