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Ladin (Ladin: Ladin, Italian: Ladino, German: Ladinisch) is a language consisting of a group of dialects (which some consider part of a unitary Rhaeto-Romance language) mainly spoken in the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy in South Tyrol, the Trentino and theprovince of Belluno. It is closely related to the Swiss Romansh and Friulian.

The precise extension of the Ladin language area is the subject of scholarly debates. A more narrow perspective includes only the dialects of the valleys around the Sella group, wider definitions comprise the dialects of adjacent valleys in the Province of Belluno and even dialects spoken in the northwestern Trentino.

A standard written variety of Ladin (Ladin Dolomitan) has been developed by the Office for Ladin Language Planning as a common communication tool across the whole Ladin-speaking region, but it is not popular among Ladin speakers.

Ladin should not be confused with Ladino (also called Judeo-Spanish), which, while also Romance, is more closely tied to Spanish.

Ladin language
Native to Italy - Dolomite Mountains, Non Valley
Region South Tyrol
Native speakers
20,000 (2007)
Language family

  • Italic
    • Romance
      • Western
        • Gallo-Romance
          • Rhaetian
            • Ladin
Official status
Regulated by The office for Ladin language planning
Ladin Cultural Centre Majon di Fascegn
Istitut Ladin Micurà de Rü
Istituto Ladin de la Dolomites
Language codes
ISO 639-3 lld
Glottolog ladi1250
Linguasphere 51-AAA-l
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols.Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbolsinstead of Unicode characters.

Geographic distribution

Ladin is recognized as a minority language in 54 Italian municipalities belonging to the provinces of South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno. It is not possible to assess the exact number of Ladin speakers, because only in the provinces of South Tyrol and Trentino are the inhabitants asked to identify their native language in the general census of the population, which takes place every ten years.

Languages of South Tyrol. Majorities per municipality in 2011:

Languages of South Tyrol. Majorities per municipality in 2011

Languages of Trentino. Percentage per municipality in 2011:

Languages of Trentino. Percentage per municipality in 2011

Languages of the Province of Belluno. Recognized Ladin area:

Languages of the Province of Belluno. Recognized Ladin area

South Tyrol

In the 2011 census, 20,548 inhabitants of South Tyrol declared Ladin as their native language. Ladin is an officially recognised language, taught in schools and used in public offices (in written as well as spoken form). The following municipalities of South Tyrolhave a majority of Ladin speakers:

Ladin name Inhabitants Ladin speakers
Badia 3366 94.07%
Corvara 1320 89.70%
La Val 1299 97.66%
Mareo 2914 92.09%
Urtijëi 4659 84.19%
San Martin de Tor 1733 96.71%
Santa Cristina Gherdëina 1873 91.40%
Sëlva 2664 89.74%
Kastelruth 6465 15.37%
Total (Province) 505,067 4.53%


In the 2011 census, 18,550 inhabitants of Trentino declared Ladin as their native language. It is prevailing in the following municipalities of Trentino in the Fassa Valley, where Ladin is recognized as a minority language:

Italian Name Ladin Name Inhabitants Ladin speakers Percentage
Campitello di Fassa Ciampedel 740 608 82.2%
Canazei Cianacei 1,911 1,524 79.7%
Mazzin Mazin 493 381 77.3%
Moena Moena 2,698 2,126 78.8%
Pozza di Fassa Poza 2,138 1,765 82.6%
Soraga Sorega 736 629 85.5%
Vigo di Fassa Vich 1,207 1,059 87.7%
Total (Province) 526,510 18,550 3.5%

The Nones language in the Non Valley and the related Solandro language found in the Sole Valley are Gallo-Romance languagesand often grouped together into a single linguistic unit due to their similarity. They are spoken in 38 municipalities, but have no official status. Their more precise classification is uncertain. Both dialects show a strong resemblance to Trentinian dialect and Eastern Lombard, and scholars debate whether they are Ladin dialects or not.

About 23% of the inhabitants from Val di Non and 1.5% from Val di Sole declared Ladin as their mother-language at the 2011 census. The number of Ladin speakers in those valleys amounts to 8,730, outnumbering the native speakers in the Fassa Valley. In order to stress the difference between the dialects in Non and Fassa valleys, it has been proposed to distinguish between ladins dolomitiches (Dolomitic Ladinians) and ladins nonejes (Non Valley Ladinians) at the next census.


As there is no linguistic census in Belluno, the number of Ladin speakers can only be estimated. Around 3000 speakers are estimated to live in the part of the province of Belluno that used to be a part of the County of Tyrol until 1918: Cortina d’Ampezzo, Colle Santa Lucia, Livinallongo del Col di Lana.

Provincial administration of Belluno has enacted to identify Ladin as a minority language in additional municipalities. Those are:Agordo, Alleghe, Auronzo di Cadore, Borca di Cadore, Calalzo di Cadore, Canale d’Agordo, Cencenighe Agordino, Cibiana di Cadore, Comelico Superiore, Danta di Cadore, Domegge di Cadore, Falcade, Forno di Zoldo, Gosaldo, La Valle Agordina, Lozzo di Cadore, Ospitale di Cadore, Perarolo di Cadore, Pieve di Cadore, Rivamonte Agordino, Rocca Pietore, San Nicolò di Comelico,San Pietro di Cadore, San Tomaso Agordino, San Vito di Cadore, Santo Stefano di Cadore, Selva di Cadore, Taibon Agordino,Vallada Agordina, Valle di Cadore, Vigo di Cadore, Vodo di Cadore, Voltago Agordino, Zoldo Alto, Zoppè di Cadore. Ladinity in the province of Belluno is more ethnic than linguistic. The varieties spoken by Ladin municipalities are Venetian alpine dialects, grammatically no different to those spoken in municipalities that did not declare themselves as Ladin. Their language is calledLadino Bellunese.

All Ladin dialects spoken in Belluno, including those in the former Tyrolean territories, enjoy a varying degree of influence by Venetian.


Ladin farmers in 1960s La Val, South Tyrol

Ladin farmers in 1960s La Val, South Tyrol

The name derives from Latin, because Ladin is originally a vulgar Latin language left over from the Romanized Alps. Ladin is often attributed to be a relic of vulgar Latin dialects associated with Rhaeto-Romance languages. Whether a proto-Romance language ever existed is controversially discussed amongst linguists and historians, a debate known as Questione Ladina. Starting in the 6th century, the Bavarii started moving in from north, while from the south Gallo-Italic languages started pushing in, which further shrank the original extent of the Ladin area. Only in the more remote mountain valleys did Ladin survive among the isolated populations.

Starting in the very early Middle Ages, the area was mostly ruled by the County of Tyrol or the Bishopric of Brixen, both belonging to the realms of the Austrian Habsburg rulers. The area of Cadore was under the rule of the Republic of Venice. During the period of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and, after 1804, the Austrian Empire, the Ladins underwent a process of Germanization.

After the end of World War I in 1918, Italy annexed the southern part of Tyrol, including the Ladin areas. The Italian nationalist movement of the 19th and 20th centuries regarded Ladin as an “Italian dialect”, a notion rejected by various Ladin exponents and associations,despite their having been counted as Italians by the Austrian authorities as well. The programme of Italianization, professed by fascists such as Ettore Tolomei and Benito Mussolini, added further pressure on the Ladin communities to subordinate their identities to Italian. This included changing Ladin place names into the Italian pronunciation according to Tolomei’s Prontuario dei nomi locali dell’Alto Adige.

Following the end of World War II, the Gruber-De Gasperi Agreement of 1946 between Austria and Italy introduced a level of autonomy for Trentino and South Tyrol, but did not include any provisions for the Ladin language. Only in the second autonomy statute for South Tyrol in 1972 was Ladin recognized as a partially official language.


Ladin school in Santa Cristina

Ladin school in Santa Cristina

Ladin is officially recognised in Trentino and South Tyrol by provincial and national law. Italy signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages of 1991, but has not ratified it so far. The charter calls for minority rights to be respected and minority languages, to which Ladin belongs, to be appropriately protected and promoted. Starting in the 1990s, the Italian parliament and provincial assembly have passed laws and regulations protecting the Ladin language and culture. A cultural institute was founded to safeguard and educate in the language and culture. School curricula were adapted in order to teach in Ladin, and street signs are being changed to bilingual.

Ladin is recognized as a protected language also in the Province of Belluno in Veneto region according to State Law 482/1999. In comparison with South Tyrol and Trentino, the wishes of the Ladins have barely been addressed by the regional government. In a popular referendum in October 2007, the inhabitants of Cortina d’Ampezzo overwhelmingly voted to leave Veneto and return to South Tyrol.The redrawing of the provincial borders would return Cortina d’Ampezzo, Livinallongo del Col di Lana and Colle Santa Lucia to South Tyrol, to which they traditionally belonged when part of the County of Tyrol or the Bishopric of Brixen.

Trilingual traffic sign

Trilingual traffic sign

Although the Ladin communities are spread out over three neighbouring regions, the Union Generala di Ladins dles Dolomites is asking that they be reunited. The Ladin Autonomist Union and the Fassa Association run on a Ladin list and have sought more rights and autonomy for Ladin speakers. Ladins are also guaranteed political representations in the assemblies of Trentino and South Tyrol due to a reserved seats system.

In South Tyrol, in order to reach a fair allocation of jobs in public service, a system called “ethnic proportion” was established in the 1970s. Every ten years, when the general census of population takes place, each citizen has to identify with a linguistic group. The results determine how many potential positions in public service are allocated for each linguistic group. This has theoretically enabled Ladins to receive guaranteed representation in the South Tyrolean civil service according to their numbers.

The recognition of minority languages in Italy has been criticised since the implementation of the State Law 482/1999, especially due to alleged financial benefits. This applies also to Ladin language, especially in the province of Belluno.


A possible subdivision of Ladin language identifies six major groups.

Athesian Group of the Sella

The dialects of the Athesian group (from the river Adige Basin) of the Sella are spoken in South Tyrol:

  • Gherdëina dialect, spoken in Val Gardena by 8,148 inhabitants (80-90 % of the population);
  • Badiot and Maró, spoken in Val Badia and in Mareo by 9,229 people, i.e. 95% as mother language.

The South Tyrolean dialects are the ones which preserverd the original Ladin characteristics better than all others.

Trentinian Group of the Sella

The following Ladin dialects are spoken in the Fassa Valley in Trentino:

  • moenat,
  • brach,
  • cazet.

82,8% of the inhabitants of Fassa Valley are Ladin mother tongue; the Ladin language in Fassa is influenced by Trentinian dialects.

Agordino Group of the Sella

In the Province of Belluno the following dialects are considered as part of the Agordino group:

  • Fodom, also called Livinallese, spoken in Livinallongo del Col di Lana and Colle Santa Lucia, mother tongue to 80-90% of the people;
  • Rocchesano in the area of Rocca Pietore. While Laste di Sopra (Ladin Laste de Sora) and Sottoguda (Ladin Stagùda) are predominantely Ladin, in Alleghe, San Tomaso,Falcade so called Ladin-Venetian dialects are spoken, with strong Venetian influx;
  • Ladin in the area of Agordo and Valle del Biois, even if some regard it rather as Venetian-Ladin.

Ampezzan Group

Spoken in Cortina d’Ampezzo (Anpezo), similar to Cadorino dialect.

Even in Valle di Zoldo (from Forno-Fôr upwards) there are elements of the Ampezzan Group.

Cadorino Group

Spoken in Cadore and Comelico and best known as Cadorino dialect.

Nones and Solandro Group

In Western Trentino, in Non Valley, Val di Sole, Val di Peio, Val di Rabbi and part of Val Rendena, detached from the dolomitic area, dialects are spoken that are often considered as Ladin language (Anaunic Ladin), but enjoy strong influences from Trentinian an Eastern Lombard dialects.

Sample texts

Lord’s Prayer

The first part of the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ in Standard Ladin, Latin and Italian for comparison:

Ladin Latin Italian Spanish French English
Pere nost, che t’ies en ciel,
al sie santifiché ti inom,
al vegne ti regn,
sia fata tia volonté,
coche en ciel enscì en tera.
Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in caelo, et in terra.
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.
Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos,
santificado sea tu Nombre,
venga tu Reino,
hágase tu Voluntad
así en la tierra como en el cielo.
Notre Père, qui es aux cieux,
Que ton nom soit sanctifié,
Que ton règne vienne,
Que ta volonté soit faite
sur la terre comme au ciel.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Common phrases

English Italian Gherdëina Fassa Valley Zoldo Alleghe Nones Solandro
What’s your name? Come ti chiami? Co es’a inuem? Co èste pa inom? Ke asto gnóm? kome te ciameto? Come te clames po?
(Che gias nom po?)
Che jas nòm po?
How old are you? Quanti anni hai? Tan d’ani es’a? Cotenc egn èste pa? Quainch agn asto? Kotanc agn asto? Canti ani gias po? Cuanti àni gh’às/jas po?
I go home. Vado a casa. Vedi a cësa. Vae a cèsa. Vade a casa. Vade a ciesa. Von a ciasa. Von a chjasô / casa.
I live in Trent. Vivo a Trento. Stei a Trent. Stae ja Trent. Staghe a Trento. Stae a Trient. Ston a Trent Ston a Trent
Where do you live? Dove abiti? Ulà stessa? Olà stèste pa? An do stasto? Ulà stasto? En do abites? Ndo abites po?

Numbers in Ladin

  • 1: un
  • 2: dui
  • 3: trëi
  • 4: cater
  • 5: cinch
  • 6: sis
  • 7: set
  • 8: ot
  • 9: nü
  • 10: diesc
  • 11: önesc
  • 12: dodesc
  • 13: trëdesc
  • 14: catordesc
  • 15: chinesc
  • 16: sëdesc
  • 17: dejesset
  • 18: dejedot
  • 19: dejenü
  • 20: vint
  • 1: un
  • 2: doi
  • 3: trei
  • 4: cater
  • 5: cinch
  • 6: sie
  • 7: set
  • 8: ot
  • 9: nef
  • 10: diesc
  • 11: unesc
  • 12: doudesc
  • 13: tredesc
  • 14: catordesc
  • 15: chinesc
  • 16: sèidesc
  • 17: dejessèt
  • 18: desdot
  • 19: desnef
  • 20: vint
  • 1: un
  • 2: doi
  • 3: trëi
  • 4: cater
  • 5: cinch
  • 6: sies
  • 7: set
  • 8: ot
  • 9: nuef
  • 10: diesc
  • 11: undesc
  • 12: dodesc
  • 13: trëdesc
  • 14: catordesc
  • 15: chindesc
  • 16: sëidesc
  • 17: dejesset
  • 18: dejedot
  • 19: dejenuef
  • 20: vint
Fodom and Rocchesàn
  • 1: un
  • 2: doi
  • 3: trei
  • 4: cater
  • 5: cinc
Zoldan and Agordìn
  • 1: un
  • 2: doi
  • 3: trei
  • 4: quatre
  • 5: zinc
  • 6: siei
  • 7: set
  • 8: ot
  • 9: nuof
  • 10: dies
  • 11: undes
  • 12: dodes
  • 13: tredes
  • 14: catordes
  • 15: chindes
  • 16: sedes
  • 17: didiset
  • 18: disdot
  • 19: disnuof
  • 20: vint
  • 1: un
  • 2: doi
  • 3: trei
  • 4: cater
  • 5: zinć
  • 6: siei
  • 7: set
  • 8: ot
  • 9: nueu
  • 10: dies
  • 11: undes
  • 12: dodes
  • 13: tredes
  • 14: catordes
  • 15: chindes
  • 16: sedes
  • 17: desesset
  • 18: desdot
  • 19: desnueu
  • 20: vinti
  • 1: un
  • 2: dói
  • 3: tréi
  • 4: quàtro/quàter
  • 5: cinch
  • 6: séi
  • 7: sèt
  • 8: òt
  • 9: nöf
  • 10: dés
  • 11: ùndes
  • 12: dòdes
  • 13: trédes
  • 14: quatòrdes
  • 15: quìndes
  • 16: sédes
  • 17: desesèt
  • 18: desdòt
  • 19: desnöf
  • 20: vinti/vénti

Phonology of Standard Ladin


Standard Ladin has the following phonemes:

Labial Dental/
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive p b t d k ɡ
Affricate ts
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ h
Approximant ɹ
Lateral l


The vowel phonemes of Standard Ladin are shown in the table below:

Monophthongs Front Central Back
Close i u
Close mid e o
Open mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

The [ɜ] vowel, spelled 〈ë〉, as in Urtijëi, occurs in some local dialects but is not included in Standard Ladin.

Published - August 2014

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