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. 

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

Handweaving in Aggius, Sardinia: Short Video

Here’s a short video featuring traditional Aggius handweaver Gabriella Lutzu working in her studio L’Albero Padre.

Music: Vivaldi – Concerto in C Major for Oboe and Orchestra andante by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under an Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Downloaded from freemusicarchive.org. 

For more information, see these pages:

This map shows where Aggius is located in Sardinia.

© 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

Trunk Shows and Exhibitions

Would you like to see handwoven Sardinian textiles in your city? Perhaps you’d even like to purchase one, after viewing it and feeling it?

I’m arranging trunk shows, where the textiles will be shown in small groups to those interested in seeing and purchasing them, as well as exhibitions, where textiles will be displayed for some time, and, depending upon the venue and the type of exhibit, may available to purchase.

I will attend the events to discuss the textiles, the artists, and present photos and video clips of the weavers and Sardinia. I can also arrange to show my documentary I Want to Weave the Weft of Time and answer questions at opening nights and related events.

If you’re interested in hosting such an event, or having one in your area, please contact me.

Schedule

Given the pandemic, I have been offering online presentations at regular intervals. If interest permits, I will arrange in-person or online trunk shows mid-to late 2021. Contact me if you are interested.

© 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

The Fairies Who Taught Women to Weave

In Sardinia, handweaving is an ancient and revered art, one so complex and magical that legends say the Jana (fairies) taught Sardinian women how to construct looms and weave.

The version below is translated from the story as written by Bruna Cossu and posted on her Facebook page Brujana. With her permission, I’ve translated her words and posted both the English and Italian versions on this website.

Once upon a time, an eternal god was flying through infinity. The god was omnipotent yet also very bored. It seemed to him that the greatest happiness would be to have desires. He began to search for Earth and humans, because he knew that humans were the best suited to dream the impossible. 

However, once he found Earth, he discovered that humans had not learned to dream. The planet’s population was like a swarm of ants: the men fought amongst themselves and sought to complicate their lives in all ways, yet they had not learned to dream. They did everything except dream. 

Then the god, determined, said: “I will be the first man to dream”. He searched all over the earth for an uninhabited place where he could live alone, and he found it in a small island in the the shape of a footprint: Sardinia. This island was still wild, full of rocks. The god concentrated and made himself into a man, but he chose to make himself old, because in order to have desires, he would have to make effort.

On the island, he had at his disposal stones, cork trees, and a swarm of bees that followed him everywhere. Understanding the nature of what he had available, he assembled it: With simple human arms, he constructed the first hive, thus solving the issue of hunger. 

One day, while sleeping, the god was disturbed by a bee. With an involuntary swipe of his hand, he shooed away the bee. However, in doing so, the god let fly a spark of divine power. In one instant, the entire hive was transformed into a group of incredibly small goddesses: The Janas were born. 

These Janas occupied the human dimension by pretending to be women — and being prophets by nature, they knew that human women would soon arrive on the island. In the meantime, the Janas dug houses out of the rocks and furnished them, always play-pretending at being women in the same way young girls play at being women.

One day, the first human ship arrived on the horizon, from an uncertain location, and bearing an unknown people. It was a rude group, wild, a bunch of warriors. The Janas immediately became interested in the women and flew among their heads, convincing them to leave the heavy work to the men. 

In this way, women finally entered the world of the Janas, where the women learned to spin and to weave at looms prepared by the fairies who had been bees — fairies who had an innate, genetic understanding of geometry, and who constructed looms with extreme rigor and precision. And the women themselves brought an essential quality: Patience. Working together, the rigor of the Janas and the patience of the women fostered the ideal conditions for the birth of creativity. 

And so was the beginning of how Sardinian women came to weave their rhythmic, symbolic textiles, weaving even today as they did then.

Sources: 

Note: Sardinia’s tessitrici artigianali — the women weavers who work by hand in the old ways — are truly extraordinary, and rare. Only a handful remain working as professionals on the island. Learn more about these unique, independent, and wonderful women on the Sardinian Arts page Meet the Artists, which is a portal to their work and contact information.

© 2013 – 2021 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved