Monaco's Princely Family

Did you know that the Monégasque language almost died?

The Monégasque language, called “Monegù” was threatened with extinction in the 1970s.

The traditional language of the Principality is Monegù. Although nowadays Monaco’s official language is French, sometimes you can also hear the traditional national Monégasque language of the Monégasque people. However, in daily life, a large number of people in the Principality of Monaco speak either French, Italian and/ or English.

Forming a part of the Western Romance dialect continuum, the language Monegù or also called Monégasque shares many features with the Genoese dialect. Though similar to the dialect of Ventimiglia, it does differ from the Menton dialect. It shares similarities also with the Niçard dialect of the Occitan language.

Monégasque, like all other Ligurian language variants, is derived directly from the Vulgar Latin of what is now northwestern Italy and southeastern France and has some influence in vocabulary, morphology and syntax from French and related Gallo-Romance languages, but most words are more like Italian.

Before the annexation of the County of Nice to France in 1860, the Niçois spoke a dialect very similar to Monégasque. 

During the fascist occupation in 1942–43, the Principality of Monaco was incorporated into Italy and Monégasque was again considered an Italian dialect. After World War II there were nearly 10,000 Italians in Monte Carlo, and some of them (descendants of the followers of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who were forced to move from Nice to the Kingdom of Italy after 1861) even spoke Monégasque fluently.

This Monégasque language was threatened with extinction in the 1970s, but luckily the language is now being taught in schools and its continuance is regarded as secured.

It is a very interesting fact and a sign of safeguarding the Monégasque language, that in the old part of Monaco the street signs are marked with Monégasque in addition to French.

There is an annual Monégasque Language Contest held on the 23rd June. This contest has been running since 1981 by Monaco’s Municipality and it contains tests on Monaco’s language, culture and history with both written and oral exams.

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