Naomi Nagy

Linguistics at U of T

Faetar * Faetano * Cellese

Faetar (and its close relative Cellese) is a Francoprovençal dialect spoken in two villages in Apulia (Faeto and Celle di San Vito), in southern Italy. Faetar came to be spoken in these villages due to a migration from southeastern France (département of Ain) around the 14th century. An unwritten language, it has incorporated aspects of Apulian Italian dialects during its 600 years of contact. It is a doubly endangered language: Francoprovençal has been virtually exterminated in France by aggressive language planning; and it is spoken by fewer than 600 people in Apulia due to a mass exodus from rural areas. It survives in emigrant pockets in Italy, Switzerland, the U.S.A., and Canada.

Faeto and Faetar, and some of my favourite speakers, were featured in a radio show on Radio Svizzera, broadcast 16 December 2019. Lots of spoken (and sung!) Faetar to listen to!

This website that documents endangered languages spoken in the GTA has a sample of speech in Cellese, the sister dialect of Faetar.

Wikipedia site created by U of T student, Michael Iannozzi:

Archive of the languages of Italy in which the Puglia section includes Faeto

Newspaper articles about Faetar:

Learn to Speak Faetar / Parlanne Faitare!

Listen to these 4 great oral histories, prepared by the Endangered Language Alliance Toronto.

I am creating an online pedagogical grammar of the endangered language Faetar, spoken in the village of Faeto, in southern Italy.  This is a website for people who want to learn Faetar. It builds on the material described in Faetar, a reference grammar published in 2001 by Lincom Europa. (ordering information) and contains vocabulary and grammar lessons and activities, all supported by audio files so that you can hear every example and, in some case, watch videos of young people in Faeto speaking Faetar. Ongoing updates in 2019-20.

My research

I have analyzed many different aspects of Faetar, mostly focussing on pronunciation, but also some work on the morphology (word structure) and vocabulary. My research interest is primarily in showing how variation among modern-day speakers of Faetar helps us see how languages change over time. To see a list of my publications, please see my c.v., especially the publications that appeared between 1993 and 2001.

In 2018, I co-edited a journal issue about Francoprovençal. There are several articles that mention Faetar, from p. 1 to 48, situating the language, discussing its vitality and taking another look at variable null subjects.

I also have a 2016 paper, comparing lexical (vocabulary) variation in Faetar of speakers in Faeto and in Toronto. Thanks to the Faetar and Cellese speakers in the GTA for providing data and motivation for this! You can hear a Cellese speaker read the summary of the paper here!

I've given a few talks about Faetar, and you can see the Powerpoints from some of those presentations here:

Quelques études du pro-drop: Faetar et russel'Université de Nice, France, en français) [download 13 MB PDF]

À la recherche des changements dans le faetar de TorontoLaboratoire Parole et Langage, Aix-en-Provence, France, en français) [download 13 MB PDF]

Language contact and lexical change in homeland and heritage Faetar (at The University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, in English) [download 11 MB PDF]

These days, I am learning about how Faetar and Cellese have evolved in Toronto, where quite a few families emigrated. If you are a speaker of Faetar or Cellese and live in or near Toronto, I'd love to hear from you. Please email me at the address below, or call my office at the University of Toronto: (416) 978-1767.

Research by others

Here's a bibliography of research on Faetar in the 21st century.

Updated April 27, 2020

email: naomi dot nagy at utoronto dot ca | Return to my home page