Cimbrian (German: Zimbrisch or Tzimbrisch) refers to any of several local Upper German varieties spoken in northeastern Italy. The speakers of the language are known as Zimbern.
Cimbrian is a Germanic language related to Austro-Bavarian and most probably deriving from a Southern Austro-Bavarian dialect. Its many essential differences in grammar as well as in vocabulary and pronunciation make it practically unintelligible for people speaking Standard German or Austro-Bavarian. The latter is also spoken in the province of Bolzano-Bozen. The impact of the surrounding varieties of Italian on Cimbrian has been very strong.
The earliest record of the movement of Bavarians to Verona dates to ca. 1050 (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Cod. lat. 4547). The settlement continued during the 11th and 12th centuries.
A theory of Lombardic origin of the Zimbern was proposed in 1948 by Bruno Schweizer and again in 1974 by Alfonso Bellotto. The debate was again revived in 2004 by Cimbrian linguist Ermenegildo Bidese. The majority of linguists remains committed to the hypothesis of medieval (11th to 12th century) immigration.
The presence of Germanic-speaking communities in Italy was discovered by the Italian humanists in the 14th century, who associated them with the Cimbri who arrived in the region in the 2nd century BC, whence the current endonym (Tzimbar, Cimbarn) has probably been adopted. An alternative hypothesis derives the name from a term for "carpenter", cognate with English timber.
The three major dialects of Cimbrian are spoken in:
Cimbrian is in danger of extinction both from standard Italian, which is often used in public, and the neighboring regional Venetian language. It is estimated that about 2,220 people speak Cimbrian.
Full article ▸