Learning Sicilian in 90 Days

In English followed by Sicilian:

This week is the end of my 90 Day Challenge to learn Sicilian. I already speak Italian and I have been to Sicily so I thought it would be interesting to try and learn Sicilian. After 90 days, I made a video speaking in Sicilian for 15 minutes with my tutor.

The language of Sicily is spoken by around 4 million people. Many people believe that Sicilian is a dialect of Italian. However, this is not true as Sicilian is actually older than Italian and was the first Romance language to develop from Latin with some words influenced by French, Arabic and Greek. cnv00017a-updated Written documents in Sicilian have been found from the 13th century. However, Sicilian is still not an official language in Italy or Sicily. In recent years, some schools in Sicily have begun to teach the language.  Sicilian can also be divided into various dialects. Most resources are in the western dialect. However, I have been learning the dialect from Catania which is the one that my tutor speaks. I have therefore been able to use resources in the western dialect and easily change them to Catanian dialect with the help of my tutor. Most material is in Italian although there are some books published in English. There is no formal spelling system in Sicilian and the books I have listed here show the various ways to spell words if necessary.


Sta simana finisci a mo sfida pi mparari u sicilianu in 90 ionna. Pozzu ggià parrari italianu e iu ì in Sicilia, quindi pinsai ca puteva essiri ‘nteressanti pruvari a mparari u sicilianu. Dopu 90  ionna, fici ‘n video parrannu in sicilianu câ mo prufissurissa.

A lingua da Sicilia è parrata da 4 miliuni di cristiani. Assai cristiani crìdunu ca u sicilianu è ‘n dialettu di l’italianu.  Tuttavia, chistu non è veru picchì u sicilianu è cchiù vecchiu di l’ italianu e era a prima lingua romanza sviluppata do latinu. vtsicily23Ci su cetti paroli di origini greca, araba o francisi. Documenti scritti in sicilianu furunu truvati duranti u tridicesimu seculu. Tuttavia, u sicilianu non è àncora ‘na lingua ufficiali né in Italia né in Sicilia. Nda l’uttimi anni, cetti scoli cuminciarunu a nsignari a lingua. U sicilianu pò essiri suddivisu in divessi dialetti. A maggiuranza di materiali disponibili pi studiari si trova supra u dialettu occidentali. Tuttavia, staiu mparannu u dialettu di Catania, picchì a mo prufissurissa parra stu dialettu. Quindi, putevu usari u materiali cû dialettu occidentali e u modificai facimmenti cu l’aiutu dâ mo prufissurissa.
A maggioppatti do materiali è in italianu ma ci su cetti libbri pubblicati in inglisi. Non c’è ‘n sistema fommali d’ortografia in sicilianu e i libbri ca allegu mostrunu i divessi modi di scriviri i paroli.

This is my video speaking for 15 minutes in Sicilian with my tutor Eleonora after learning for 90 days.

In August 2016, I will be giving a presentation at Lang Fest in Montreal about minority languages in Italy and focusing on Sicilian. You can buy a ticket by clicking on the link above.

Resources to learn Sicilian:

Italki Tutor (Eleonora) click here

Sicilian Grammar Site: click here

News Blog in Sicilian: click here

Facebook Group for Learners: click here


  • Learn Sicilian  – Mparamu Lu Sicilianu by Gaetano Cipolla. This is an excellent book and written in English. It has lots of texts to read as well as grammar, verb tables and exercises. It includes a DVD for audio and the level is around B2. It includes the imperfect and past perfect subjunctive tenses (the present subjunctive is now almost extinct in Sicilian).
  • Sounds of Sicilian with CD
  • Introduction to Sicilian Grammar by JK Bonner.

Note that the above books are mainly written in the Western Sicilian dialect from the Agrigento area, however they do mention the differences with Catania and the Eastern dialect and subdialects.


About maureen100

Polyglot, Languages Enthusiast, loves travel and cats. Contact on twitter @LangJourneyMo and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Language-Learning-Journey-917184265040686/?ref=hl
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3 Responses to Learning Sicilian in 90 Days

  1. flootzavut says:

    Did you find your Italian/other Romance languages helped a lot learning Sicilian? I guess you are very experienced now in not getting closely related languages mixed up. The thought of having six Romance languages in my brain gives me a headache LOL. Are you happy with your current level of Sicilian?

    Congrats on completing the challenge! 😀

    • maureen100 says:

      Definitely, especially knowing Italian well beforehand. I learned Sicilian all through Italian actually. My lessons were all given in Italian. I found it easier than learning through English. I am continuing my lessons because I’d like to reach B2 level hopefully. Last night I watched the film’Cinema Paradiso’ again and I am happy to say now I can understand the parts in Sicilian!

      • flootzavut says:

        Ahh, I didn’t catch that you’d learned through Italian, that’s good – I think in a weird way, that can help with not mixing languages, and I totally get it feeling easier. (I think sometimes it feels much more natural to learn via a related language. I haven’t studied it to any degree of fluency yet, but when I did the Ukrainian course on Duolingo I kept wishing it was through Russian – I kept having to stop myself from translating Ukrainian into Russian, especially in the early parts of the tree. It feels much more natural to translate дуже приємно into очень приятно than into “nice to meet you”.)

        That’s cool you are continuing it. You will be the queen of Romance languages! 😁 I remain impressed that you can maintain them all in your brain without going completely doolally with the similarities and differences 😜 I LOVE when I understand something I previously didn’t in a language I’ve learned, that’s the best feeling 😍 Congrats 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

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