Niçard dialect

Native toFrance, Monaco
RegionCounty of Nice, Monaco
Official status
Regulated byConselh de la Lenga Occitana (norme classique) / Félibrige (norme mistralienne)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Niçard (Classical orthography), Nissart/Niçart (Mistralian orthography, IPA: [niˈsaʀt]), Niçois (/nswɑː/, French: [niswa]), or Nizzardo (Italian pronunciation: [nitˈtsardo]) is the dialect that was historically spoken in the city of Nice, in France, and in all the area of the historical County of Nice. Today it is generally considered a subdialect of Provençal, itself a dialect of Occitan,[1] whereas others argue out that the historical dialect spoken in Nice was more closely related to the Ligurian language from neighboring Italy.[2][3]

Most residents of Nice and its region no longer speak Niçard, and the very few[quantify] who do are bilingual in French. Nonetheless, today there is a developing revival of the use of the language. Some local television news is presented in Niçard (with French subtitles) and street signs in the old town of Nice are written in the dialect as well as in French. The Niçard song Nissa La Bella is often regarded as the "anthem" of Nice.

Writing system

Niçard is written using two forms:

  • Classical orthography. Preferring the native traditions of the language, this form was developed by Robert Lafont (Phonétique et graphie du provençal, 1951; L'ortografia occitana, lo provençau, 1972) and Jean-Pierre Baquié (Empari lo niçard, 1984). It is regulated by the Conselh de la Lenga Occitana.
  • Mistralian orthography. Closer to written French, it was invented by the Félibrige (although there also exists an Acadèmia Nissarda).

An Italian orthography was abandoned when Nice joined the French Empire in 1861. It was briefly reinstated in 1942 and 1943 when Italy occupied and administered the city).

Orthography Comparison (from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
English Classical Mistralian
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Toti li personas naisson liuri e egali en dignitat e en drech. Son dotadi de rason e de consciéncia e li cau agir entre eli emb un esperit de frairesa. Touti li persouna naisson lib(e)ri e egali en dignità e en drech. Soun doutadi de rasoun e de counsciència e li cau agì entre eli em' un esperit de fratelança.

Example of Nissart and similarity with Italian, according to Barberis:[citation needed]

  • Dintre lou mieu sprit, es mai que Agamennon, (Italian: Dentro lo mio spirito, è maggiore che Agamennone)
  • Coura dì sì, es si; coura di non, es non. (Italian: Quando dir sì, è sì; quando dir no, è no)

Occitan and Ligurian influences

Regional differences are recognized in Standard Occitan. Some have claimed that Niçard has kept some of the oldest forms of Occitan, other dialects (such as Provençal) having been more "Frenchified" by their history.

Giuseppe Garibaldi, born in Nice in 1807, defined his "Nizzardo" as an Italian dialect with some influences from Occitan and French, and for this reason promoted the union of Nice to the Kingdom of Italy. Nice, in fact, had been part of the County of Savoy (then Duchy of Savoy and finally Kingdom of Sardinia) since 1388, and was given to France in exchange for the help lent in the second independence war against Austria in 1860. Italian Giulio Vignoli wrote in his book about the "Nizzardo Italian" population that, after Garibaldi's failed attempt in 1871 (Vespri Nizzardi), 11,000 of his supporters (nearly 1/3 of the population of Nice in the 1870s) were forced to move to Italy from Nice and were substituted by the French government with people from nearby Occitan areas. The revolts began after the elections in 1871, in which the pro-Italian party received 26,534 votes out of 29,428. The French government decided to send 10 000 men to end the rebellion, to close the Italian journals and to imprison many of the pro-Italian demonstrators; this changed the characteristic of Nissart, which started to have many loanwords from Occitan (a language that is now predominant in the Nissart dialect).[4]

Even today, some scholars (like the German Werner Forner, the French Jean-Philippe Dalbera and the Italian Giulia Petracco Sicardi) agree that Niçard has some characteristics (phonetical, lexical and morphological) that are typical of the western Ligurian language.[5]

French scholar Jean-Philippe Dalbera (in Bernard Cerquiglini's report) pinpoints in his Les langues de France[6] the actual existence of a Ligurian dialect, called Royasc, in the Roya Valley (near Tende), in the westernmost part of the County of Nice. Royasc, which is a Ligurian variety, should not be confused with Niçard.

However, most experts in Romance linguistics see Niçard as a variety of Occitan. Statements saying that Niçard is a Ligurian or Italian dialect[7] are not supported by these experts (see especially Dalbera 1984).[8] Still, French scholar Bernard Cerquiglini wrote in his book on the languages of France about the actual existence of a Ligurian minority in Tende, Roquebrune and Menton, a remnant of a bigger medieval "Ligurian" area that included Nice and most of the coastal County of Nice.

See also


  1. ^ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335967068_Grammaire_de_l%27Idiome_Nicois_accompagnee_de_nombreux_eclaircissements_historiques_sur_cet_important_dialecte_de_la_langue_d%27Oc_et_precedee_d%27un_expose_du_vrai_systeme_orthographique_de_ce_dialecte
  2. ^ Gubbins, Paul; Holt, Mike (2002-01-01). Beyond Boundaries: Language and Identity in Contemporary Europe. Multilingual Matters. ISBN 978-1-85359-555-4.
  3. ^ Panicacci, Jean-Louis (1986). "Un journal irrédentiste sous l'Occupation : Il Nizzardo". Cahiers de la Méditerranée. 33 (1): 143–158. doi:10.3406/camed.1986.990.
  4. ^ Vignoli, Giulio Gli Italiani Dimenticati. Minoranze Italiane In Europa. p. 85-98
  5. ^ Petracco Sicardi, Giulia. L'amfizona Liguria-Provenza. p 107
  6. ^ DALBERA Jean-Philippe (2003) “Les îlots liguriens de France” [in: CERQUIGLINI Bernard (2003) (dir.) Les langues de France, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France / Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication-DGLFLF, p. 125-136]
  7. ^ Gubbins, Paul; Holt, Mike (January 2002). Beyond Boundaries: Language and Identity in Contemporary Europe, Chapter Seven. ISBN 9781853595554. Retrieved 2013-10-01.
  8. ^ DALBERA Jean-Philippe (1984) Les parlers des Alpes Maritimes: étude comparative, essai de reconstruction [PhD thesis], Toulouse: Université de Toulouse 2 [ed. 1994, London: Association Internationale d’Études Occitanes]


  • ANDREWS James Bruyn (1875) Essai de grammaire du dialecte mentonnais avec quelques contes, chansons et musique du pays, Nice: no name [re-ed. 1978, 1981, Menton: Société d’Art et d’Histoire du Mentonnais]
  • ANDREWS James Bruyn (1877) Vocabulaire français-mentonnais, Nice: no name [re-ed. 1977, Marseilles: Lafitte Reprints]
  • BAQUIÉ Joan-Pèire (1987) (collab. Andrieu SAISSI) Empari lo niçard / Apreni lo provençau, Nice: CRDP Nice / CDDP Alpes Maritimes
  • BARBERIS Francesco. Nizza italiana: raccolta di varie poesie italiane e nizzarde, corredate di note. Editore Tip. Sborgi e Guarnieri (Nizza, 1871). University of California, 2007
  • BEC Pierre (1970–71) (collab. Octave NANDRIS, Žarko MULJAČIĆ), Manuel pratique de philologie romane, Paris: Picard, 2 vol.
  • BLAQUIÈRA J. (1985) Dictionnaire français-nissart, langue d'oc, dialecte niçois, self-edited
  • CALVINO Jean-Baptiste (1905) Nouveau dictionnaire niçois-français, Nice: Imprimerie des Alpes Maritimes [re-ed. 1993 with the following title: Dictionnaire niçois-français, français-niçois, Nîmes: Lacour]
  • CARLES (Père) Pietro (1866) Piccolo vocabolario nizzardo-italiano, Nice
  • CARLES (Père) Pietro (1868) Piccolo vocabolario italiano-nizzardo, Nice
  • CASTELLANA Georges (1947) Dictionnaire niçois-français [re-ed. 2001, Nice: Serre]
  • CASTELLANA Georges (1952) Dictionnaire français-niçois [re-ed. 2001, Nice: Serre]
  • CERQUIGLINI Bernard (2003) (dir.) Les langues de France, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France / Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication-DGLFLF: 125-136]
  • CERQUIGLINI Bernard (2000) Histoire de la langue française 1945-2000. Co-edited with Gérald Antoine. Paris: CNRS Editions, 2000.
  • CLAPIÉ Jaume, & BAQUIÉ Joan Pèire (2003) Pichin lèxico ilustrat, petit lexique illustré, niçard-françés, français-niçois, Nice: Serre
  • COMPAN André (1965) Grammaire niçoise [re-ed. 1981, Nice: Serre]
  • COMPAN André (1971) Anthologie de la littérature niçoise, coll. Biblioutèco d’istòri literàri e de critico, Toulon: L’Astrado
  • DALBERA Jean-Philippe (1984) Les parlers des Alpes Maritimes: étude comparative, essai de reconstruction [PhD thesis], Toulouse: Université de Toulouse 2 [ed. 1994, London: Association Internationale d’Études Occitanes]
  • DALBERA Jean-Philippe (2003) “Les îlots liguriens de France” [CERQUIGLINI Bernard (2003) (dir.) Les langues de France, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France / Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication-DGLFLF: 125-136]
  • ESCOLA DE BELLANDA (2002) Diciounari nissart-francés, Nice: Fédération des Associations du Comté de Nice / Serre
  • EYNAUDI Jules, & CAPPATI Louis (1931–1938) Dictionnaire de la langue niçoise, Niça: sn.
  • FORNER Werner A propos du ligur intemelien - La cote, l'arrier-pays Traveaux du cercle linguistique de Nice 1996
  • FORNER Werner La dialettologia ligure. Problemi e prospettive in La dialettologia italiana oggi in G. Holtus, Tübingen 1985-1990
  • GASIGLIA Rémy (1984) Grammaire du nissart, sl.: Institut d’Études Niçoises
  • GAUBERTI Pierre (1994) Dictionnaire encyclopédique de la langue de Peille [Pays Niçois], Nice: Serre
  • GIOFFREDO Pietro Storia dele Alpi marittime libri XXIV, in HPM 1839, Torino (originally published in 1662)
  • GIORDAN Joseph (1968) Dictionnaire français-niçois: lexique complémentaire du parler de la ville de Nice et des pays environnants, sl.: sn.
  • GOURDON Marie-Louise (1997) Contribution à l’histoire de la langue occitane. Étude des systèmes graphiques pour écrire l’occitan (niçois, provençal, languedocien) de 1881 à 1919: itinéraires et travaux de A.L. Sardou, J.B. Calvino, L. Funel, A. Perbosc, P. Estieu [PdD thesis], Nice
  • LIAUTAUD René (1985) Essai de lexique français-entraunois avec correspondences en niçois, Nice: CRDP
  • MICEU Giausep (1840) Grammatica nissarda: per emparà en pòou de temp lo patouas dòou paìs, Nice: Imprimarìa de la Sossietà tipografica [re-ed. Marie-Louise GOURDON (1975) La Grammatica nissarda de Joseph Micèu: biographie, étude sur les dialectes, commentaires philologiques, Nice: imprimerie Pierotti]
  • PELLEGRINI (Abbé) (1894) Lexique niçois-français, Nice: no name
  • PETRACCO SICCARDI, Giulia L'amfizona Liguria Provenza Alessandria 1989
  • PETRACCO SICCARDI, Giulia e CAPRINI, Rita Toponomastica storica della Liguria, Genova, SAGEP, 1981
  • PETRACCO SICCARDI, Giulia Ligurien Lexicon der Romanistischen Linguistik II, 2, Tübingen, 1995
  • SARDOU Antoine Léandre, & CALVINO Jean-Baptiste (1881) Grammaire de l’idiome niçois, Nice: Visconti [re-ed. 1978, Marseilles: Laffitte Reprints]
  • SCALIERO Giuseppe (1830) Vocabolario nizzardo, Nice: no name
  • TOSCANO Reinat (1998) Gramàtica niçarda, no place: Princi Néguer
  • VIGNOLI Giulio (2000) Gli Italiani Dimenticati. Minoranze Italiane In Europa. Milano: Editore Giuffrè ISBN 978-88-14-08145-3

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