The Sauris language: an old and fascinating language
The origins of the Sauris language (de zahrar sproche) date far back in the past, around the 1200s. It is fascinating because it comes from an old German dialect, whose origin is lost in time. The Sauris language is still spoken by the town residents, together with the Italian language and the Friulian dialect.
The origins and history of the Sauris language
The Sauris language dates back to the 1200s, to the time of the foundation of the town. Over the centuries, the languages spoken by the bordering populations influenced the Sauris language, even though many archaic elements from the German language spoken in the thirteenth century (Mittelhochdeutsch) can still be found. Linguists classify the language among the Hochdeutsch (high German) languages, South Bavarian cluster. Therefore, it is very similar to the Tyrolean and Carinthia dialects, which belong to the same cluster1.
Until the 1800s, the language was only spoken. The first written texts of this language are a treaty of medicinal herbs and the essay “De Cristegeleare” (“The Christian Doctrine”) by Monsignor Giorgio Plozzer. Later texts, beginning from the late 1800s and throughout the 1900s, include many essays and a vast collection of poems, which are still alive today.
The language spoken today in Sauris
The widespread use of the Sauris language began to wane in the 60s, especially among the younger generations. However, in recent years, a willingness to keep the local origins and identity alive has set in motion a series of initiatives for the recovery and enhancement of the local culture and language.
From the 70s, countless activities have been organized to preserve this old language. In 1974, the “Zahre” choir was founded, reviving traditional songs. In the same period, the “Fulgenzio Schneider” Cultural Club was established, which proposes activities and initiatives to enhance the local language. Moreover, “De Zahre reidet” (Sauris speaks) parish bulletin has been printed for many decades, which often publishes articles on the history and cultural peculiarities of the local community.
Ever since the early 2000s, moreover, the Sauris language and the local traditions have been introduced in the educational activities of local schools.
How to understand and learn the Sauris language
The “Zahrer Wörterbuch – Sauris dictionary” was published in 2008, as a result of a long research work by prof. Norman Denison. Moreover, classes are held in the Sauris community for anyone wishing to approach this language. The online consultation of the Italian-Sauris dictionary is instead available here.
Today, the Sauris language is recognized and protected by the Italian Republic, in Law no . 482/1999, and by the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region, in Regional Law no. 20/200.