The most ancient linguistic substratum having left its mark on this language is that of the ancient Ligures. Available information about this variety is extremely vague and limited. This is in sharp contradistinction to the picture that can be drawn about the group which replaced the Ligures, the Celts. Contributions from the Celts to local languages were self-evident, so that Lombard language is still classified as a Gallo-Romance language (from ancient Romans name for Celts, Gauls).
Roman domination shaped dialects spoken in ancient Lombardy, such that lexicon and grammar of this language find their origin in the Latin language. This influence was not yet homogeneous; idioms of different areas were influenced by previous linguistic substrata and each area was marked by a stronger or weaker characterisation in comparison to Ligure or ancient Celtic languages.
The Lombardic language left clear traces too, as it was the variety spoken by Longobards, a Germanic population which dominated a large section of Italy, including Lombardy, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Lombardic had acted as a linguistic superstratum over Lombard, since the Longobards did not impose their language on the population. Lombardic left traces without Germanicising the local language, such that Lombard preserved its Romance nature.
Historically, the vast majority of Lombards spoke only Lombard. With the rise of Standard Italian throughout Italy and Switzerland, one is not likely to find wholly monolingual Lombard speakers, but a small minority may still be uncomfortable speaking the dominant Italian. Surveys in Italy find that all Lombard speakers also speak Italian, and their command of each of the two languages varies according to their geographical position as well as their socio-economic situation. The most reliable predictor was found to be the speaker's age: studies have found that young people are much less likely to speak Lombard as proficiently as their grandparents did. In fact, in some areas, elderly people are more used to speaking Lombard rather than Italian, even though they know the latter as well as the former.
The Lombard variety with the oldest literary tradition (from the 13th century) is that of Milan, but now Milanese, the native Lombard variety of the area, has almost completely been superseded by Italian from the heavy influx of immigrants from other parts of Italy (especially Apulia, Sicily, and Campania) during the fast industrialization after the Second World War.
Ticinese is a comprehensive denomination for the Lombard varieties spoken in Swiss Canton Ticino (Tessin), and the Ticinese koiné is the Western Lombard koiné used by speakers of local dialects (particularly those diverging from the koiné itself) when they communicate with speakers of other Lombard dialects of Ticino, Grigioni, or Italian Lombardy. The koiné is similar to Milanese and the varieties of the neighbouring provinces on the Italian side of the border.
There is extant literature in other varieties of Lombard, for example La masséra da bé, a theatrical work in early Eastern Lombard, written by Galeazzo dagli Orzi (1492–?) presumably in 1554.[not in citation given]
Standard Italian is widely used in Lombard-speaking areas. However, the status of Lombard is quite different in the Swiss and Italian areas, such that the Swiss areas have now become the real stronghold of Lombard.
The LSI, published in 2004
In the Swiss areas, the local Lombard varieties are generally better preserved and more vital than in Italy. No negative feelings are associated with the use of Lombard in everyday life, even with complete strangers. Some radio and television programmes, particularly comedies, are occasionally broadcast by the Swiss Italian-speaking broadcasting company in Lombard. Moreover, it is common for people from the street to answer in Lombard in spontaneous interviews. Even some television ads in Lombard have been reported. The major research institution working on Lombard dialects is located in Bellinzona, Switzerland (CDE - Centro di dialettologia e di etnografia, a governmental (cantonal) institution); there is no comparable institution in Italy. In December 2004, the CDE released a dictionary in five volumes, covering all the Lombard varieties spoken in the Swiss areas.
Today, in most urban areas of Italian Lombardy, people under 40 years old speak almost exclusively Italian in their daily lives because of schooling and television broadcasts in Italian. However, in Periferic Lombardy (Valtellina, Lake Como, Bergamo, Brescia, Lodi), Lombard is still vital.
That is from a number of historical and social reasons: its usage has been historically discouraged by Italian politicians, probably as it was regarded as an obstacle to the attempt to create a 'national identity'.
Now, the political party most supportive of Lombard (and of the varieties of Northern Italy in general) is the Northern League (in the past, on the other hand, the leftist parties were the ones giving support to local varieties). Thus, speaking a dialect of some minority languages might be politically controversial in Italy.
A certain revival of the use of Lombard has been observed in the last decade, when the use of Lombard has become a way to express one's local identity and to distance oneself from Roman-oriented mainstream Italian culture. The popularity of modern artists singing their lyrics in some Lombard dialect (in Italian "rock dialettale", the most well-known of such artists being Davide Van de Sfroos]) is also a relatively new but growing phenomenon involving both the Swiss and Italian areas.
The following tables show the sounds used in all dialects of Lombard.
^ abJones, Mary C.; Soria, Claudia (2015). "Assessing the effect of official recognition on the vitality of endangered languages: a case of study from Italy". Policy and Planning for Endangered Languages. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 130. Archived from the original on 2017-04-21. Lombard (Lumbard, ISO 639-9 lmo) is a cluster of essentially homogeneous varieties (Tamburelli 2014: 9) belonging to the Gallo-Italic group. It is spoken in the Italian region of Lombardy, in the Novara province of Piedmont, and in Switzerland. Mutual intelligibility between speakers of Lombard and monolingual Italian speakers has been reported as very low (Tamburelli 2014). Although some Lombard varieties, Milanese in particular, enjoy a rather long and prestigious literary tradition, Lombard is now mostly used in informal domains. According to Ethnologue, Piedmontese and Lombard are spoken by between 1,600,000 and 2,000,000 speakers and around 3,500,000 speakers respectively. These are very high figures for languages that have never been recognised officially nor systematically taught in school
Bernard Comrie, Stephen Matthews, Maria Polinsky (eds.), The Atlas of languages: the origin and development of languages throughout the world. New York 2003, Facts On File. p. 40.
Brevini, Franco - Lo stile lombardo: la tradizione letteraria da Bonvesin da la Riva a Franco Loi / Franco Brevini - Pantarei, Lugan - 1984 (Lombard style: literary tradition from Bonvesin da la Riva to Franco Loi )
Glauco Sanga: La lingua Lombarda, in Koiné in Italia, dalle origini al 500 (Koinés in Italy, from the origin to 1500), Lubrina publisher, Bèrghem.
Claudio Beretta: Letteratura dialettale milanese. Itinerario antologico-critico dalle origini ai nostri giorni - Hoepli, 2003.
G. Hull: "The linguistic Unity of Northern Italy and Rhaetia, PhD thesis, University of Sydney, 1982; published as The Linguistic Unity of Northern Italy and Rhaetia: Historical Grammar of the Padanian Language, 2 vols. Sydney: Beta Crucis Editions, 2017.
Jørgen G. Bosoni: «Una proposta di grafia unificata per le varietà linguistiche lombarde: regole per la trascrizione», in Bollettino della Società Storica dell’Alta Valtellina 6/2003, p. 195-298 (Società Storica Alta Valtellina: Bormio, 2003). A comprehensive description of a unified set of writing rules for all the Lombard varieties of Switzerland and Italy, with IPA transcriptions and examples.
Tamburelli, M. (2014). Uncovering the ‘hidden’ multilingualism of Europe: an Italian case study. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 35(3), 252-270.
NED Editori: I quatter Vangeli de Mattee, March, Luca E Gioann - 2002.
Stephen A. Wurm: Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing. Paris 2001, UNESCO Publishing, p. 29.
Studi di lingua e letteratura lombarda offerti a Maurizio Vitale, (Studies in Lombard language and literature) Pisa: Giardini, 1983
A cura di Pierluigi Beltrami, Bruno Ferrari, Luciano Tibiletti, Giorgio D'Ilario: Canzoniere Lombardo - Varesina Grafica Editrice, 1970.
Sanga, Glauco. 1984. Dialettologia Lombarda. University of Pavia. 346pp.
RTSI: Acquarelli popolari, some video and audio documents (interviews, recordings, etc. of writers from Ticino) in Ticinese varieties (please notice that the metalanguage of this site is Italian, and that some of the interviews are in Italian rather than in Ticinese Lombard).