stemma grumentina
bandiera italiana
bandiera americana
Old stone with latin inscription from Grumentum.


It is often said that the difference between a language and a dialect is an army. In other words, the status of Saponarese as a dialect rather than as a language is a political fact and not a scientific one. But from a scientific perspective, Saponarese has a distinct grammar. And it has a history parallel to, not derivitive of, Florentine. And it was a political fact that led to Florentine's acceptance as a common tongue across the peninsula and its islands, not any objective, scientific criteria of linguistic superiority. Medieval Florence was wealthy enough to offer patronage to the most brilliant and creative minds in all of Europe, giving its literary tradition a level of prestige that cast a shadow on other budding literary hubs in Naples, Palermo, and elsewhere. Also for political fact alone, Saponarese never had a literary tradition of its own. And from the objective eyes of science, it is in every way equal to all other languages.

This section is dedicated to the treatment of Saponarese as a language. Below you will find a collection of efforts to document and describe the language and its grammar. That means creating a digital record of its words, providing a description of each word, and providing a full description of the grammatical rules governing the way those words are put together. This is an ambitious project that will take years. But we begin with these humble first steps.

Grumento in the background of Grumentum


Building off of the dictionaries written by Professor Vincenzo Falasca, we have built a digital dictionary complete with grammatical metadata, phonetic description, and audio. Evident in this dictionary, Saponarese has a unique vocabulary that reflects its cultural history as an agro-pastoral society. As such, these words are an invaluable form of cultural heritage. But a language is more than its words and this dictionary is more than a collection of entries. This dictionary is part of a database that will make this project truly unique and will allow for us to present Saponarese grammar in a way that is interactive and engaging.

A golden field


Beyond words and grammar there are idioms, phrasings, proverbs, and metaphors, which are essential to the character of any language. These constructions reflect influence of saponarese culture on the language. Thanks to the tremendous work of Lucio Delfino, a collection of Saponarese proverbs has been published under the title A Proverb a Day. And with the collaboration of Carmelina Celano, we have digitalized this collection.

Boy gives thumbs up