Is Sicilian a Language or Dialect?

So you often hear people speaking "Sicilian" but do you know whether it is a language or a dialect?

If you don’t, we have got you covered with this blog post!

The question of whether Sicilian is a language or dialect is a controversial one.

To understand, one first must be aware of the differences between a language and a dialect because they are not synonymous. A language is a verbal and written means of communication, whereas a dialect is generally just spoken.

A dialect is a variety of language that has evolved over time. Italian was once a dialect of Latin but has evolved into its own language. According to Count by Ethnologue, Italy has over 28 indigenous languages.

The chart below by Pediaa goes further into detail regarding the differences.

Sicilian is not considered a dialect but is its own separate language. The language is influenced by French, Spanish, Arabic, Catalan, and Ancient Greek.

Many individuals today believe that Sicilian is merely a dialect of Italian. Some suggest that this belief stems back to the fact that Northern Italians considered Southern Italians inferior. Therefore, Sicilian was considered a “dialect” of the poor. However, according to scholars, Sicilian actually preceded Italian. If Sicilian were a dialect of Italian, then it would have developed after it. Both Sicilian and Tuscan are descendants of late Latin.

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