Standard Padanian Orthography (SPO)
How is Padanian written? Similarly to French, Occitan, Catalan!
This page outlines the main features of Standard Padanian Orthography, the orthographical system for the Padanian language, described in Meneghin .
According to Linell , Vachek , Aaron and Joshi Malatesha , written language is relatively independent from spoken language (within the bounds of a higher-level correspondence between the two, see e.g. Vachek [1959, 15]): as in Frinta [1909, 36] (quoted in Vachek [1959, 8]), the role of orthography is to speak quickly and distinctly to the eyes. Borrowing Richard Venetzky's words about the English orthography (Venetzky [1999, 4]):
the written norm is a complex system that preserves bits of history (i.e. etymology), facilitates understanding, and also translates into sound.
Also, following Chomsky [1968, 49]:
the fundamental principle of orthography is that phonetic variation is not indicated where it is predictable by general rule
and, according to Vachek [1959, 8]
while any system of phonetic transcription provides means for an optical recording of the purely acoustic make-up of spoken utterances, the traditional writing system increasingly tends to refer to the meaning directly without necessarily taking a dÃ©tour via the corresponding spoken utterances.
Please note: all phonetic transcriptions are in X-SAMPA.
The philosophy of Standard Padanian Orthography
Standard Padanian Orthography has been constructed in the same spirit as the 'Classical' ones for Catalan (Fabra ) and Occitan (see e.g. Bee ), Stich's for FrancoprovenÃ§al (Stich ), and Hull's UPO (Unified Padanian Orthography, Hull [1982, XXXII]). It is a natural evolution of ORS orthography [Meneghin, 2007].
Because of the greater proximity of Padanian to French, many devices of current French orthography have been implemented as well. Thus, SPO orthography is morphophonemic, (the actual phonetic realisation of a grapheme will in general depend upon the context in which it lies, see e.g. Venetzky , Vachek ), in the belief that properly reconstructing a prestigious written language will help Padanian writers (and speakers) to get free from the present sentiment of subordination to the Italian language.
It is wortwhile to remark that this orthography is similar to that of a classical text of the Padanian literature, the Subalpine Sermons (Anonymous ).
The main features of Standard Padanian Orthography
Standard Padanian Orthography adopts the strategy of getting as close as possible to the most conservative forms as well as conforming to the standards of western Romance orthography. Hence it takes as standards the digraphs pl, bl and fl typical of Rhenania, Engadine and Val MÃ¼stair, Val Bregaglia, Val Poschiavo, Upper Valtellina and Livigno, Val Gandino (Bergamo), the upper Chiese Basin, the Noce Basin, the Dolomitic valleys of Gardena, Badia, Marebbe and Livinal-longo, and Friuli (see Hull [1982, 379]).
The Padanian feminine plural marker is derived from the Latin first declension accusative -as, which evolved into -es (Hull [1982, 439]). All the contemporary outcomes are synthesised by the historical Cisalpine script -es.
The masculine plural marker is modelled on the Rhaeto-Romance morphology, hence it is generally formed by adding -s. Dialect variation allows this marker to be considered silent by a phonetic point of view, just as in French. The more conservative dialects (those with sounding -s) display a closer analogy to Catalan and Occitan, while the most innovating ones, like Piedmontese and Lombard will display an almost complete analogy to French and FrancoprovenÃ§al, where there is no phonetic [s] for plurals, apart from the so called residual liaison.
Once more upon the basis of the principle of the most conservative form, the desinence -r for the infinitive is always written explicitely, even if variously preserved by a phonetic point of view (see e.g. Jaber [1933, table 1014]). This device parallels the one adopted in languages (such as Occitan, Catalan, French and Ladin) where the final phonetic [r] has almost completely disappeared, see e.g. Valentini [2001, 61], Fabra [1918, 26], Salvat [1998, 9]. As far as the former two tongues are concerned, the infinitive desinence is rather -ar; in Padanian, dialect variation between -ar and -er can be observed; SPO adopts form -er, characteristic of Piedmontese, Emilian, Romagnol, Alpine Lombard and Ladin.
Let us now take a look at the use of c, g and j: some preliminar diachronic considerations are needed.
In most Rhaeto-Cisalpine dialects the outcomes of Latin c/g followed by a, o, u are [k] and [g]; in this case, SPO writes c/g accordingly. To different extents, Romansh, Ladin, Friulian and some Alpine Lombard dialects palatalise to [tS], [c] and [dZ], [J\] and SPO writes ch/j correspondingly, preferring the former as standard forms.
When Latin c resp. g are followed by i or e or j is followed by a, o, u, various possible outcomes are, according to Hull [1982, 296-308], [s] resp. [z] in alternation with [tS] resp. [dZ], [tS] resp. [dZ], [S] resp. [Z], [ts] resp. [dz].
SPO adopts, as synthetic standard phonetic renditions for the graphemes c, g, j +vowel the French, Occitan or Catalan ones (but allowing dialect variation). It reintroduces also the historical Cisalpine graphemes Ã§ (before a, o, u) and x variously attested in Padanian historical texts (see these ancient texts, see also Brevini , Hull [1982, 186]) and still alive in Genoese [Toso, 1997]. The use of qu, gu +vowel will be complementary.
On the other hand, cl+vowel resp. gl+vowel are either preserved as such ([kl] resp. [gl]: Romansh, Friulian, alpine Lombard dialects) either palatalised to [tS] resp. [dZ]: SPO is etymological, and it envisages the devices cl resp. gl; the Rhaeto-Romanic forms are in general preferred at a phonetic level too, but dialect variation is welcomed.
Let us now discuss the developments of latin tonic o: according to Hull [1982, 109ff], it underwent many kinds of developments in the Padanese domain, like
• [O] > [wO] > [HO] > [H2] >  or ;
• [O] > [we] > [He] > [H2] >  or ;
• [O] > [Ou] > [u].
As in Hull's reconstruction Hull [1982, 651 ff], SPO proposes to adopt the western-Padanian vocalism as standard, devising to write the sounds  and  by means of a compromise between French and Ladin contemporary orthography. It adopts eu at the beginning of words, ue (or œu) after c and eu in final position. Etymological exceptions are possible.
The graphemes u and o are treated mostly as in Occitano-Catalan, but the default value of stressed o will be rather [O] as in French in most cases; also, tonic [u] is written ou in most cases.
Another important orthographical device is the suffix -tion: it matches the historical Padanian spelling, already in use with Bonvesin de la Riva, the 'Genoese Anonymus' and up to XVI century with the Bergamasque Giovanni Bressani (modified in -tiÃ³ by virtue of the eastern Lombard denasalisation of final n; see Bressani ).
Other aspects of Standard Padanian Orthography
We hint at a few SPO orthographical devices more:
• the etymological desinence -en for the sixth person of the verbs is always written down;
• the hyphen - is e used to separate the parts of verbs and clitic prononuns in combination, in post-verbal position only, mostly in the interrogation form (see Meneghin, [2010, Â§4.12]);
• the grapheme h is preserved, to improve surveyability, in all learned Greek or Latin words, for instance schema, chmica, thema, mechÃ nica, character, or the prefixes chrono-, hetero-, phono-, arch- chiro- etc.
Let us turn to tonic accent: the rule to point out the stressed syllable is very simple. If a word bears a graphical accent, then stress falls on that vowel; otherwise:
• if a word ends by vowel, -es, -is or -en, then the stress falls on the next-to-the last syllable;
• in any other case, the stress falls on the last syllable.
Foreign words are written and read according to the rules of their languages, including plural inflections.
Finally, a neutral final vowel -e is used after muta cum liquida groups (i.e. consonant+l,r) as in French to keep track of the fall of all final unstressed vowels other than -a. This will generally spot the epenthesis of atonic schwa in the muta cum liquida group.
In the following sections, we provide some synoptic tables for Standard Padanian Orthography.
a (stressed )
à (stressed )
he will be
è (stressed only)
peach (fruit or tree)
-e (final position)
[ej], [Ej], [e:], [aj]
[eN,aN], [iN], [e~], [a~], [i~]
ey (stressed only)
i (between cons.)
i/y (final position)
i (before or after vowel, in the same syllable)
í (stressed only)
ó (stressed only)
ò (stressed only)
[u:r], [u], [o:r], [Owr]
ou (stressed only)
ú (stressed only)
œu, eu, ue
[bl], [bj], [dZ]
bl (learned words)
c (before a, o, u)
ç (before a, o, u)
[s], [ts], [T]
qu (before e, i)
qü (before e, i)
c (before i,e,y)
[s], [ts], [tS]
one hundred, cent
ch (learned words)
[kl], [tS], [cj]
cl (learned words)
[fl], [fj], [S]
fl (learned words)
g (before a, o, u)
gu (before e, i)
gü (before e, i)
g (before e, i, y)
[Z], [dZ], [dz]
gl (learned words)
[Z], [dZ], [dz]
k (learned words)
in spite of
m (after vowel, before consonant)
n (after vowel, before consonant)
ph (learned words)
[pl], [pj], [tS]
pl (learned words)
-q (end of a word)
qu (before a, o)
[r], , [r\]
[r], , [r\], [Ø]
staircase, ladder, scale
rh (learned words)
-er (1st group inf.)
[e], [E], [Er]
s (before voiceless consonant)
s (before voiced consonant)
[Z], [z], [S]
s(beginning of a word, before vowel)
[s], [h], [z]
-s (masc. plural marker)
-es (fem. plural marker)
[es], [@s], [e], [i], [Ø]
line, feature, trait
th (learned words)
w (foreign words)
x (beginning or end of a word)
ex (learned words)
ex (learned words)
x (learned words)
y (between consonants)
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