Sicilian English

This page presents an annotated bibliography of the Sicilian language resources that are helping me develop this project. It also lists other notable Sicilian dictionaries and online resources. This list of resources is not comprehensive, but should be useful to anyone interested in the language and culture.

dictionary sources


  • Arba Sicula is the preeminent Sicilian cultural organization in America. Since 1979, they have been publishing books and journals about Sicilian history, language, literature, art, folklore and cuisine.
  • Many of the resources listed on this page were published by Arba Sicula or developed with its assistance.

Gaetano Cipolla Learn Sicilian (2013) and Learn Sicilian II (2021).

  • Learn Sicilian provides a textbook and DVD for a comprehensive introductory course in the Sicilian language. It is filled with dialogues, grammar, cultural essays and photography, which makes it more than just a grammar book. It's a complete introduction to Sicily, its language, culture and people.
  • Learn Sicilian II deepens the reader's knowledge. It builds vocabulary by explaining the use of prefixes, suffixes and desinences, so that readers learn how to understand words they've never seen before. And it describes each dialect of the Sicilian language, helping the reader recognize the relationship between the written language and how the language is spoken in each part of Sicily.
  • The author, Gaetano Cipolla, has been the president and editor of Arba Sicula since 1987. He has edited and translated volumes of Sicilian poetry and is one of the foremost authorities in the field.


  • Arthur Dieli provides a wealth of scholarly articles, language resources and other information about Sicilian language and culture on his personal website.
  • He was one of the first people to publish a Sicilian vocabulary list on the internet. His list contains over 12,000 Sicilian words and phrases, part of speech and translations into English and Italian. Dr. Dieli's vocabulary list inspired and seeded the dictionary project presented here.
  • He also published a book of Proverbi Siciliani, which features a proverb for hundreds of Sicilian words, translations of those proverbs into English, the source of the proverb and (when necessary) a short explanation of the proverb. It provides a fun way to learn Sicilian, one proverb at a time.

Kirk Bonner (2001). Introduction to Sicilian Grammar.

  • Behind the unassuming title of "Introduction," Kirk Bonner wrote a complete rule book for a "standard Sicilian" language. Dr. Bonner's work provided the model that was later adopted by Sicilian Wikipedia and others.


Giuseppe Pitrè (1875). Grammatica Siciliana.

  • While writing a 25-volume collection of Sicilian folklore, Giuseppe Pitrè assembled his notes on the Sicilian language on the pages that are today published as a slim book called Grammatica Siciliana.
  • The book describes a theory of sounds adapted from Latin, how those sounds differ across Sicilian dialects and a theory of grammatical forms.
  • Several publishers have reprinted the book in recent years, so online retailers usually have a copy in stock.

Vincenzo Mortillaro (1876). Nuovo Dizionario Siciliano-Italiano.

  • Vincenzo Mortillaro set an ambitious goal when writing his dictionary. It was not to be a "Palermitan dictionary" or a "rhapsody of dialects." His goal was to "harvest the flower of the language universally spoken in Sicily" in a common orthography.
  • His dictionary provides detailed definitions, translations and examples. Where two or more variants of a word exist, his dictionary lists each of them. And the large size of his dictionary suggests that he achieved his goal of recording the universal Sicilian language.
  • A digital copy is available from Google Books. Reprinted copies are available from Gyan Books.

Vincenzo Nicotra (1883). Dizionario Siciliano-Italiano.

  • To help 19th-century Sicilians learn the Italian language, Vincenzo Nicotra wrote a large vocabulary and supplemented with examples and proverbs. In this way, he recorded the wisdom of the Sicilian people.
  • In the preface, Nicotra extolled the benefits of Pietro Giordani's initiative to "abandon the dialects to domestic use." That may bother a 21st-century student of the Sicilian language, but his intentions were good:  He wanted Sicilians to express themselves well in the new national language.
  • Unless otherwise noted, the proverbs presented here are from Nicotra's dictionary. The fact that he recorded so many suggests that he also wanted Sicilians to have a good knowledge of their own language.
  • A digital copy is available from Google Books. Reprinted copies are available from Gyan Books.

Joseph F. Privitera (2003). Sicilian Dictionary and Phrasebook.

  • Intended as a travel companion for Americans visiting Sicily, Joseph Privitera's dictionary provides a concise grammar, a phrasebook and a dictionary with 3400 entries featuring the most common words.
  • Dr. Privitera also wrote an introduction to the Sicilian language, Beginner's Sicilian, which may not compare well with some of the other resources available today, but – when it was published in 1998 – it was the first Sicilian grammar written for an English-language audience and it was the first Sicilian grammar published since Pitrè's in 1875.

other notable works

G. Piccitto, G. Tropea and S.C. Trovato (1977-2002). Vocabolario Siciliano

Joseph Bellestri (1985-1988). Sicilian-English Dictionary and English-Sicilian Dictionary

  • A pair of dictionaries for Sicilians in the United States, this was the first Sicilian-English vocabulary.

Ignazio Sucato (1975). La Lingua Siciliana: Origine e Storia

  • A concise history of the language spoken by the Sicilian people from prehistoric times to the present. With lists of their linguistic contributions, Sucato shows how different peoples influenced the language that Sicilians speak today.
  • Sucato argues that Sicilian descends directly from the prehistoric Sicel language, which was similar to Latin. He suggests that the people continued to speak their indigenous language regardless of who ruled the island. Then, after the Normans defeated the Arabs, the language spoken by the Sicilian people since prehistoric times prevailed, eloquently blossoming with the Sicilian School of Poetry a few decades later.

Alberto Varvaro (2014). Vocabolario Storico-Etimologico del Siciliano

  • A dictionary that excludes Italian words in order to focus on words from Sicily's lexical heritage.

Antonino Traina (1868). Nuovo vocabolario siciliano-italiano

  • Writing shortly after Italian Unification, Traina wanted to help Sicilians learn Italian and he also wanted Italians to learn Sicilian. In Traina's view, Italians should know the words of every province because the words of a province represent the ideas of that province.
  • A digital copy is available from Liber Liber.

Santu Rapisarda (1842). Raccolta di Proverbj Siciliani Ridutti in Canzuni

  • A four-volume collection of Sicilian proverbs made into the object of poetry.
  • A digital copy is available from Google Books.

Luigi Accattatis (1895). Vocabolario del Dialetto Calabrese

  • A vocabulary of the Casalino-Apriglianese dialect (province of Cosenza).
  • A digital copy is available from Google Books.

Orlando AccettaDizionario Napitino

  • A vocabulary of over 1000 words from the dialect spoken in Pizzo Calabro (VV).

Giuseppe PresicceDialetto Salentino

  • Notes on grammar and a vocabulary of over 8000 words from the dialect spoken in Scorrano (LE).

LecceWeb.itDialettario Salentino

  • A vocabulary of the Leccese dialect.

Mario RosatiSalviamo il siciliano!

  • A vocabulary of over 1500 words, over 400 proverbs and expressions, and a wide selection of Sicilian culture.

Angelo ConiglioThe Sicilian Language

  • Notes on Sicilian language and culture, including a good comparison of Sicilian dialects.

Uliana SentsovaSicilian-Spanish Translator

  • Developed for Apertium, Sentsova's work was the first effort to create a machine translator for the Sicilian language.

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