Languages of Sardinia – A Brief Introduction

The island of Sardinia boasts several distinct languages with diverse heritages. While Italian is now taught in schools across Sardinia and understood by those of baby-boomer age and younger, many older Sardinians, especially in towns away from the coast, may only know one of the languages historically spoken on the island. 

Sarde, the primary language of Sardinia, has two or three primary dialects. Campidanese is spoken across the central-southern and southern areas, while Logudorese and its variation Nuorese are spoken in the central-north area. A Romance language descended from Latin, Sarde is considered the modern language most similar to its renowned ancestor.

The very northern part of Sardinia boasts other languages: Gallurese in the Northeast, Sassarese in the Northwest, and Catalano in the area around Alghero. Gallurese and Sassarese stem from a historic connection the northern area had with Corsica and Tuscany, and sound very different from Sarde. Catalano remains from the Spanish influence on the island. 

While Latin, Corsican, and Spanish roots in the various Sardinian languages are visible, there are also diverse connections with languages and cultures across Europe, Northern Africa, and beyond.  And, as with any language and dialect, each sub-region and even town often has its own noticeable change in pronunciation or vocabulary of the local language.

To ease confusion in governmental documents, road signs, and other official uses, an experimental standardized written form of Sarde, Limba Sarda Comuna (LSC) was instituted in 2006. This is a loose standard, allowing local standards for spelling and ongoing adjustment, and also paves the way to preserve the language.

Sarde is generally no longer taught in schools, yet there are initiatives to bring the the language back into the curriculum with the LSC as the basis. The movement to teach and preserve Sarde is supported by authors, publishing houses, and much of the population, including a growing number of the younger generation. In addition, language scholars from outside Sardinia recognize the significance of Sarde and, to a lesser degree, the island’s other languages.

While many Sardinian youngsters learn Sarde at home, easily switching between Italian and their local language in everyday conversation, the Sardinian languages are not esteemed on continental Italy. Most Italians, especially those from Milano and the north, look down upon the Sardinian languages and even the accent Sardinians tend to have when speaking Italian. On mainland Italy, Sardinians often encounter a prejudice similar to one Southerners face when talking with New Yorkers in the United States.

As a language geek who loves Latin (although I have forgotten nearly all I learned in high school), I personally love the sound of Sarde, and understand bits of it it. Gallurese is completely different, and I can’t follow anything!

See the examples below for a comparison of the Logudorese and Campidanese dialects of Sarde, Latin, Italian, and English.

For more general information on Sardinian Languages, see this article on Wikipedia.

Comparing Languages — Examples

Sarde (Lugudorese)

Babbu nostru chi ses in chelu
siat santificadu su nomene tou
benzat su renu tou
sia fata sa voluntade tua 
comente in chelu gai in terra. 
Su pane nostru de dogna die donanos
e perdonoa sos peccados nostros
comente nosateros perdonamos a sos depidores nostros
e nos non eses ruere in sa tentazione
ma libera nos dae male. 

Sarde (Campidanese)

Babbu nostu chi ses in celu,
Santificau siat su nomini tuu.
Bengiat a nosus su regnu tuu,
Siat fatta sa boluntadi tua,
comenti in celu aici in terra.
Donasi oi su pani nostu de dogna dii,
Et perdonasi is peccaus nostus,
Comenti nosus perdonaus a is depidoris nostus.
Et no si lessis arrui in tentatzioni,
Et liberasi de mali.

Latin

Pater noster, qui es in cælis:
sanctificétur Nomen Tuum:
advéniat Regnum Tuum:
fiat volúntas Tua,
sicut in cælo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidiánum da nobis hódie,
et dimítte nobis débita nostra,
sicut et nos dimíttimus debitóribus nostris.
et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem;
sed líbera nos a Malo.

Italiano

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.
Dacci oggi il nostro pane quotidiano,
e rimetti a noi i nostri debiti
come anche noi li rimettiamo ai nostri debitori,
e non abbandonarci alla tentazione,
ma liberaci dal male.

English

Our Father which art in heaven, 
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, 
Thy will be done in earth, 
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 

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Spring 2021 Presentation Series: Sardinian Arts Online

Join me live online for an intimate series of presentations about Sardinian handwoven textiles, the women who maintain nearly-lost weaving traditions, and more!

In this free series, I’ll be sharing my stories, videos, and photos of the women weavers and their distinctive textiles; showing weavings from my own collection; discussing the history and revival of Sardinian handweaving; providing a historical and cultural overview of Sardinia; giving you a photographic tour of the island; answering your questions; and more!

This series starts Saturday January 23, 2021. See the full schedule below.

If you have missed earlier sessions, you can still come to later sessions!

Please register to attend the free sessions.

I look forward to seeing you online!

~ Kelly Manjula Koza, Sardinian Arts’ Founder

PS — Before the events, I very much suggest that you watch I Want to Weave the Weft of Time, my free 30 minute documentary on handweaving in Sardina. You can also find the video directly by going to WeaveWeftofTime.com.

Schedule

Saturdays at 11am Pacific / Noon Mountain / 1pm Central / 2pm Eastern. Each session will last 60-90 minutes.

  • January 23 — Introduction, Background, and Film Highlights with Commentary
  • January 30 — Weaving in Samugheo
  • February 6 — Weaving in Nule
  • February 13 — Weaving in Aggius
  • February 20 — Converging Threads: The Importance of the Handmade, How Weaving Came to Sardinia, the Resurrection, and More
    Please note the dates below have been corrected!
  • February 27 — Sardinian History, Culture, and Arts Beyond Weaving
  • March 6 — Sardinian Tour: Photos and Stories Around the Island
  • March 13 — Questions, Answers, Open House

Welcoming a Peaceful New Day

For some of us, watching the sunrise is a favorite way to usher in the new day. 

If you lack a good view of the morning sun, don’t rise early enough, or merely want a beautiful sunrise to watch as you start your day, here’s a real-time video of a peaceful sunrise in Gallura, Sardinia.

Enjoy watching the sky lighten in the pre-dawn minutes before the sun rises over the distant water and hills. The fields and sounds of the agriturismo are the foreground. This is definitely a slow video — 34 minutes long, with the camera immobile throughout.

Filmed from the porch of my room at Agriturismo Nuraghe Tuttusoni, Portobello, Sardegna in September 2019. 

Understanding and Protecting Italian Food and Culinary Heritage: What DOP and Other Designations Mean

Italian Food Classifications and Labels

The Heritage

When I talk with people about Sardinian handwoven textiles and the importance of valuing and protecting the weavers and their art — key elements of Sardinia’s cultural heritage — and the textile classification system designed to protect Sardinian textiles, the weavers, and the island’s economy, I often discuss the labeling standards and classifications that the European Union (EU) uses to protect the fine foods and wines respected as key elements of Italy’s cultural heritage.

Italy’s art, architecture, design, natural beauty, and food are considered part of the country’s heritage and recognized as treasures that must be protected. When you think of certain Italian foods — perhaps a favorite cheese, meat, wine, liquor, or traditional speciality dish — you most likely think of a certain inimitable flavor, smell, and texture, all arising — and inseparable— from the area in which the ingredients were grown and how the food was prepared. Food and wine recipes are passed down from generation to generation within a region and often within a family, and it’s understood that the taste and quality of the food changes if the food is prepared using different ingredients (even those grown in different regions) or the preparation method altered in any way.

The food classifications recognize and protect the names, recipes, quality, and area of origin of traditional Italian foods, and guarantee the item bearing the label meets certain criteria of how and where the food was grown or produced. This system ensures that the food or wine you purchase is genuine — the item comes from a specific area, is produced according to traditional methods and standards, and thus tastes, looks, smells, and feels as the food or wine traditionally tastes. This system — recognized by World Trade Organization (WTO) member countries as well as the EU — also discourages food piracy and helps protect the economy and people of the region where the food is traditionally grown and prepared. (Food piracy refers to the unethical practice of using the name of a protected food to sell a food product made outside the traditional area, using non-traditional methods and/or foods grown outside the traditional area.)

The different food classification levels are outlined below. The explanations will help you understand the difference between the criteria of different labels and why you’ll find a price difference between DOP, IGP, and STG foods and between IGT, DOC, and DOCG wines.

Food Classes Explained 

The primary food classifications are DOP, IGP, and STG. 

DOP — Denominazione di origine protetta (Protected Designation of Origin)

The DOP designation denotes the tightest restrictions regarding where and how a food product is grown and produced. The DOP label recognizes that the qualities and characteristics of the food product are essentially or exclusively due to the natural and human factors found within a specific geographical environment of a designated country and region. The geographical environment — including the climate, production techniques passed down through generations, craftsmanship, and more — make the product inimitable outside the designated production area. All production, transformation and processing of a DOP product must take place within the delimited area. 

All DOP products bear the official DOP stamp in red and yellow, with the words “Denominazione d’Origine Protetta”. 

More than 165 Italian foods bear the DOP designation, including Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. Since 2010, wines considered DOC and DOCG (see below) have been considered DOP products. 

IGP — Identificazione geografica protetta (Protected Geographical Indication)

The IGP designation recognizes that the characteristics of a food product depend upon the geographical area in which the food product is prepared, yet the IGP designation requires that only one of the phases of production, transformation, and/or processing occur within a designated geographical area. For instance, an IGP product may be prepared within the designated geographical area using ingredients sourced from outside the designated area. 

There are currently about 130 Italian products bearing the IGP designation, including l’Aceto Balsamico di Modena, la Mortadella Bologna, and la Bresaola della Valtellina.

All IGP products bear the official IGB stamp in blue and yellow, with the words “Indicazione Geografica Protetta”

STG — Specialità tradizionale garantite (Guaranteed Traditional Speciality)

The STG designation denotes a traditional food prepared using a traditional recipe or method of production (one existing for more than 30 years). The food must be prepared within the European Union, but no specific country or region is designated for either the sourcing of ingredients or the production of the food. If a food is prepared using recipes or production methods outside of those designated for the STG designation, the food can still bear the name of the traditional food, but not the official STG label. 

All STG products bear the official STG stamp in yellow with a solid blue center and the words “Specialità Tradizionale Garantite”

Wine Classifications Explained

A different system is used for wine. These classifications were rolled into the DOC classification in 2010. 

IGT — Indicazione geografica tipico (Typical Geographical Indication)

The IGT designation denotes wines produced in a comparatively large geographical area — a region or territory recognized for producing grapes of a uniform quality that impart specific qualities to wine — where at least 85% of the grapes were grown within that area and the wine was produced according to specific requirements. IGT is the least restrictive of the wine designations, and wines bearing the IGT designation cannot use the name of a geographical area or region protected by DOC or DOCG designation. IGT wines do not have to declare the wine vintage or color.

DOC — Denominazione di origine controllata (Designation of Origin Controlled)

The DOC designation is given to wines whose unique qualities are recognized as being dependent upon the particular natural environment and human factors (such as production techniques and craftsmanship) linked to a particular geographic area. In addition, DOC wines undergo a sensory and chemical-physical analysis before receiving the DOC designation. Most DOC wines are maintain the IGT designation for at least five years before being eligible for consideration as a DOC wine.

DOCG — Denominazione origine controllata garantita (Designation of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed)

The DOCG designation is the highest designation for a wine. After a wine has maintained DOC designation for ten years, the wine may be submitted for DOCG consideration. A special commission performs a sensory analysis of the wine before granting the first DOCG designation, and each batch of wine must be tested and successfully pass the analysis prior to being granted DOCG status. 

Classifying Textiles

Similarly, to protect the fine heritage, traditions, and designs of Sardinian textiles, and the weavers and economy of Sardinia, I compiled a three-tier classification system that delineates standards for handwoven textiles, hand-decorated textiles, mill-made textiles in Sardinia. The three classifications recognize the different production method, market, and price range for Sardinian textiles. See this page for details about the classifications. 

While this system is not yet official, I hope someday to see these standards for Sardinia textiles used across the island, the EU, and the world!

Food Classification Sources

AltroConsumo

Wikipedia’s article on DOP, IGP, STG and IG Italian Products

Appreciating Cardo

Cardo

I love talking about this vegetable, both because of my introduction to it, and because of how well I believe it represents characteristic Sardinian traits of fortitude, hardiness, patience, and transforming what seems daunting and difficult — be it situations, people, or things — into a result that is beautiful, thoughtful, and golden. 

I first encountered this preserved vegetable during an early visit to the island. I was in Samugheo and eating dinner with  Susanna, Isa, and the extended family — Angelina, Anna, Tiziana, and Cri — and they offered me some of this vegetable, obviously locally grown, carefully picked, and lovingly prepared. I had come to learn that Angelina, Susanna’s sister, was the cook and gardener for the family, and most if not all of the vegetables presented at the table were grown and/or preserved by Angelina’s strong and graceful hands. 

Isa offered me an open jar of this preserved vegetable, and — as is characteristic of me — I put a generous portion on my plate despite not knowing what the vegetable was. As I tasted the it, I wondered: Lotus root? No, none of the little seeds, and there were no ponds here where lotus would grow. Okra? No, not the right taste or consistency. Celery? This seemed a bit tougher than celery, and had a open center channel not common to celery, and it didn’t really taste like celery — but I could not think of what else it might be, and I’m pretty good at “name that vegetable.” I convinced myself that it was just a different type of celery, that the olive oil in which it was preserved masked some of the taste, and happily munched. 

“Ti piace?” Isa gestured towards the jar, asking me if I liked the vegetable.

I nodded. “Si. E’ sedano?” Yes. Is it celery?

“No. Cardo.”

“Cardo? Non lo so cardo. . .” I didn’t know what cardo was, and a quick check of the limited Italian dictionary I had on my phone at that time didn’t yield any results.

Isa tried to describe cardo to me, saying it grew everywhere, wild. I think she was a bit bewildered that I didn’t know what this vegetable was, as it was obviously so common. Rising, she walked over to her computer, googled, and pointed to the photo now displayed on the screen.

“Cardo.”

THISTLE!  

“Ah!” I said. “Si chiama thistle in inglese! Abbiamo cardo nelle colline e nei giardini da California, anche fuori casa mia! Ma non lo mangiamo!”

Yes, we have thistle in the hills around San Francisco, even outside my house — we just don’t eat thistle! 

I was imagining harvesting the plant — ouch — and peeling the spiny stalks — ouch again — before cutting the stalk-hearts and soaking them in oil. It seems a bit. . . intimidating. I keep thinking I’ll harvest a stalk or two of California’s wild thistle when the season’s right, but I haven’t yet, and it’s been some years.

Fortitude, hardiness, patience, and transforming what seems daunting and difficult into a result that is beautiful, thoughtful, and golden: I have seen the women of Sardinia do this with everything — no matter how thorny!

Seven Reasons Sardinia is a Healthy Place to Go for a Post-Lockdown Vacation

Why is Sardinia a great place to vacation after you emerge from lockdown?

Beyond the usual reasons people flock to Sardinia for vacations — the natural beauty of the island, with its indescribable mountains, sea, and beaches; the incredible food, hospitality, and people; the unique traditions, arts, and culture; the warm, strong, intrepid people; and so much more about which I write elsewhere — there are seven health-related reasons is this relatively unknown island in the Mediterranean a perfect place to go for a post-lockdown vacation.

I’ll try to keep my descriptions brief!

Sardinia’s Legacy of Health and Longevity

Sardinia has one of the highest percentages of centurions in the world. Many Sardinians live happily, healthfully, and actively into their 100s. This is due to many factors, from an isolated genetic pool to the next factors mentioned — all of which contribute to the health of Sardinians — and their visitors!

Sardinia’s Food

The food in Sardinia is locally grown and prepared in traditional ways. While you may recognize the names of some of the dishes and their ingredients, the freshness, purity (forget the terms genetically-modified and factory-farmed), and care put into food means that what you eat — cheese from Sardinian sheep and goats; island-raised meat, wheat, pasta, seafood, vegetables, wine, and more — taste nothing like what you expect, or may have ever tasted. 

My consistent experience of Sardinian food is that it’s delicious, and it makes my body (and tastebuds) happy — even when I eat things I would not/do not eat in the States. 

The quality of the food and the love put into its raising, cultivation, and preparation is undoubtedly one of the key factors to the longevity and health of Sardinians — and you’ll be eating this same food while you’re on the island. 

Sardinia’s Nature

Sardinian air is pure and carries the scent of whatever is in bloom at the season — the intoxicating scent of mirtillo is most associated with the island. If you are close enough to the sea, you’ll smell the Mediterranean; in the central part of the island; the air carries the clarity of the mountains, the high plains, or the valleys. 

The mountains across the island range from hills similar to those in coastal California to peaks like those found in Colorado, all packed into an area the size of Vermont. The sun is Mediterranean, beautiful and bold, often shining, yet not exhausting and brutal — even fair-skinned, blue-eyed people such as myself tan rather than burn when in Sardinia.

The Sardinian sea is beautiful beyond compare, and the beaches are pristine. Dozens if not hundreds of Sardinian beaches meet rigid quality, sustainability, and cleanliness standards required of the Bandiera Blu designation.

There’s more to Sardinia’s nature and outdoors than mountains, sun, sea, and beaches — but I promised to keep this article brief! The natural beauty and purity of the island most certainly contribute to the health of Sardinians — and those of us who visit. 

The Sardinian Way of Life

Sardinians love their island, one another, food, life, and living. They don’t hurry the minutes, hours, tasks, or pleasures of life. This is evident in everything they make and do, from their arts and festivals to their food and hospitality — and in their health and happiness. An unhurried life in which meals are prepared with love, eaten with family and friends, and the work one pursues is done with careful attention certainly contributes to the health and longevity of Sardinians — and influences our own for the better when we visit the island.

The Sardinian Mentality

The Sardinian mentality both manifests in and contributes to the Sardinian lifestyle. On one hand strong, stoic, and private, Sardinians are also warm, welcoming, and humorous. Patient, steadfast, and determined — sometimes called testardi, hard-headed — the Sardinians have maintained their ancient cultures, traditions, and ecosystems through centuries while still allowing select modern advantages to enhance their lives. Strength and persistence permeate Sardinia and are tangible in the nature, land, and lives of Sardinians — and rub off on those of us who visit.

Sardinia’s Isolation

As an island, Sardinia has been protected by the natural borders of the sea throughout history. While the island has been invaded at times by warring nations, the invaders have never persisted, and Sardinia has never really considered itself “conquered”. Even now, Sardinia is an independent region of Italy, much like Puerto Rico is to the United States. 

This isolation has protected the cultures of Sardinia — rather ironically, a mix of cultures associated with peoples who invaded or were invaded by Sardinia — as well as the gene pool within the island from outside influences that could weaken the social or physical health of the island and her people. 

During the pandemic, the island was relatively easy to isolate. Lockdown rules were very strictly enforced, both for residents and for those attempting to visit the island before and during the lockdown. The Polizia turned away planes and ferries full of visitors attempting to relocate to their second houses at the start of the lockdown and ticketed any locals violating isolation rules. The lockdown was so successful that Sardinia had relatively few cases of the virus. This has been good news to the Sardinians, as they wanted to ensure island would be be virus-free and support a 2020 tourist season — not just for the health of the Sardinian economy, but for the well-being of the visitors seeking relief from months of isolation.

Sardinia’s Sanitization Practices and Regulations

Even before the government issued regulations stating the regulations for restaurants, stores, beaches, hotels, and agriturismi (working farms that offer guest accommodations and restaurants serving their own home-made regional specialities), the proprietors were working to ensure facilities were cleaned and sanitized; staff would be trained in increased hygienic measures, and methods to maintain social distancing would be instituted. 

In addition, Sardinian government officials anticipate a tourist entry plan that will require visitors to obtain a “health passport”, a document that certifies each person entering Sardinia tests negative for the Cornavirus. The testing and health passport/certificate will eliminate any requirement for quarantine for incoming visitors.

The tourist’s cost for taking the test will reimbursed by giving them coupons for free or reduced-cost services, such as hotel stays, entry to museums, tourist attractions, and so forth.

These measures are an extension of the care and graciousness Sardinian hosts extend for their guests’ comfort, enjoyment, safety, and health.

Summary

All in all, if you want to take a healthful vacation to restore yourself in body, mind, and spirit, my recommendation is that you visit Sardinia. I’ve spent much time on the island, and could write much more than I have above — but you need to feel it for yourself. 

Here’s What YOU Can Do When You Visit

When you go to Sardinia, follow these guidelines for your own health, the health of others, and to be a conscientious traveler!

  • Before you go, maintain your health! Don’t even start your trip when ill, if you recently recovered from being ill, or you think you might be on the verge of becoming ill.
  • When traveling to Sardinia, maintain high preventative and cautionary health measures. Follow all airline, hotel, and other travel partner regulations. Wear masks, wash hands, don’t touch unnecessary objects, sanitize, dispose of trash responsibly, and so forth. 
  • When in Sardinia, follow all airport, hotel, restaurant, cafe, beach, travel, and local regulations. Be gracious when you’re stopped for spot-checks or asked to adhere to local regulations, health or otherwise. If you feel like you’re becoming ill, talk with your hosts, who can direct you to the local health providers and help you undertake any necessary testing and self-isolation. And remember that everyone, hosts and visitors alike, are working together to maintain health for everyone!
  • In general, travel with openness, patience, and a sense of adventure. Remember that as a visitor, you probably won’t know local customs, so listen, watch, and educate yourself a bit about Sardinia before you go and while you are there so you can experience and enjoy more of the island. 

I believe an open, positive mind supports a traveler, and most certainly supports our immune system and mental and physical health. Bring these qualities with you to Sardinia, and experience what the island offers in terms of health — and more!

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

Missing Sardinia: The Sardinian Sickness — Mi Manca Sardegna: Il Mal di Sardegna

“Sardinia is an island you cannot ignore. After visiting  it, you will carry a memory in your heart that leaves you with a nostalgia and a strange sensation, veiled with a sad yearning for something missing: It’s the Sardinia sickness.”

“La Sardegna è un’isola che non si può fare a meno di conoscere. Dopo che la si sarà visitata, si porterà nel cuore un ricordo che alimenta un sottile fil di nostalgia, e una strana sensazione, velata di struggente malinconia, di qualcosa che manca: è il mal di Sardegna.”

These are the famous words on the last page of the ubiquitous* Sardinian calendars published by R. Balzano Edizioni. 

The calendars are requisite items when you leave the island. 

And yes, the Sardinian sickness is real, affecting some of us exactly as described. 

Especially now.

#sardegnanelcuore #missingsardinia #mimancasardegna #vacaggisardegna #vacationsardinia

*Ubiquitous in the airports, bookstores, and tourist stores. Come to the center of the island and the lesser-known spots and you’ll see other sites!

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

Speaking and Teaching Engagements

Would your weaving guild, craft studio, art class, or group like to learn more about beautiful Sardinian textiles, the amazing women who weave them, and Sardinia itself?

Would you like to have a private screening and question/answer session with the maker of the documentary I Want to Weave the Weft of Time? See additional and/or unpublished video footage and photos of the weavers in the film, and other weavers at work? See and feel the textiles in person (in-person events only)?

I would love to arrange an online presentation for your group at the time of your convenience, or an in-person event in 2022. I’m well-versed in presenting to audiences large and small, both online and in person, and can discuss the weavers, their art, and Sardinia in a way that considers and captivates your group.

Contact me to discuss options and timing.

Online presentations are free for elementary, high school, and home schooling groups during the pandemic.

For online presentations to other groups, I generally request an honorarium based on the type and size of your group. For in-person presentations, I request that your group cover travel expenses.

Thanks to Flavia Loreto for her photo!

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved

Sardinian Beach Meditation

Five or six minutes at a beautiful beach in Portobello, Sardinia (Italy). 

A great meditation, especially if you can watch it on a large-screen TV. 

Sit close, on the floor, and imagine you are on the beach!

This video is downloadable on Vimeo for personal use only, and also posted on Tramite.org.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved