De vulgari eloquentia (I, xiii, 1-5)

(1) Post hec veniamus ad Tuscos, qui, propter amentiam suam infroniti, titulum sibi vulgaris illustris arrogare videntur; et in hoc non solum plebea dementat intentio, sed famosos quamplures viros hoc tenuisse comperimus; puta Guittonem aretinum, qui nunquam se ad curiale vulgare direxit, Bonagiuntam lucensem, Gallum pisanum, Minum Mocatum senensem, Brunettum florentinum: quorum dicta, si rimari vacaverit, non curialia sed municipalia tantum invenientur. Et quoniam Tusci pre aliis in hac ebrietate baccantur, dignum utileque videtur municipalia vulgaria Tuscanorum singulatim in aliquo depompare. (1) After this, we come to the Tuscans, who, rendered senseless by some aberration of their own, seem to lay claim to the honour of possessing the illustrious vernacular. And it is not only the common people who lose their heads in this fashion, for we find that a number of famous men have believed as much: like Guittone d'Arezzo, who never even aimed at a vernacular worthy of the court, or Bonagiunta da Lucca, or Gallo of Pisa, or Mino Mocato of Siena, or Brunetto the Florentine, all of whose poetry, if there were space to study it closely here, we would find to be fitted not for a court but at best for a city council. Now, since the Tuscans are the most notorious victims of this mental intoxication, it seems both appropriate and useful to examine the vernaculars of the cities of Tuscany one by one, and thus to burst the bubble of their pride.
(2) Locuntur Florentini et dicunt: Manichiamo introque che noi non facciano atro. Pisani: Bene andonno li fanti De Fiorensa per Pisa. Lucenses: Fo voto a Dio che in grassarra eie lo comuno de Lucca. Senenses: Onche renegata avesse io Siena! Ch'ee chesto? Aretini: Vo' tu venire ovelle? De Perusio, Urbe Veteri, Viterbio, nec non de Civitate Castellana, propter adfinitatem quam cum Romanis et Spoletanis habent, nichil tractare intendimus. (2) When the Florentines speak, they say things like: 'Manichiamo, introcque che noi non facciamo altro' [Let's eat, since there's nothing else to do]. The Pisans: 'Bene andonno li fatti de Fiorensa per Pisa' [The business at Florence went well for Pisa]. The people of Lucca: 'Fo voto a Dio ke ingrassarra eie lo comuno de Lucca' [I swear to God, the city of Lucca is really in the pink]. The Sienese: 'Onche renegata avess'io Siena. Chée chesto?' [If only I'd left Siena for good! What's up now?]. The people of Arezzo: 'Vuo' tu venire ovelle?' [Do you want to go somewhere?]. I have no intention of dealing with Perugia, Orvieto, Viterbo, or Città di Castello, because of their inhabitants' affinity with the Romans and the people of Spoleto.
(3) Sed quanquam fere omnes Tusci in suo turpiloquio sint obtusi, nonnullos vulgaris excellentiam cognovisse sentimus, scilicet Guidonem, Lapum et unum alium, florentinos, et Cinum pistoriensem, quem nune indigne postponimus, non indigne coacti. (3) However, though almost all Tuscans are steeped in their own foul jargon, there are a few, I feel, who have understood the excellence of the vernacular: these include Guido, Lapo, and one other, all from Florence, and Cino, from Pistoia, whom I place unworthily here at the end, moved by a consideration that is far from unworthy.
(4) Itaque, si tuscanas examinemus loquelas, cum pensemus qualiter viri prehonorati a propria diverterunt, non restat in dubio quin aliud sit vulgare quod querimus quam, quod attingit populus Tuscanorum. (4) Therefore, if we study the languages spoken in Tuscany, and if we think what kind of distinguished individuals have avoided the use of their own, there can be no doubt that the vernacular we seek is something other than that which the people of Tuscany can attain.
(5) Si quis autem quod de Tuscis asserimus de Ianuensibus asserendum non putet, hoc solum in mente premat, quod si per oblivionem Ianuenses amitterent z licteram, vel mutire totaliter eos, vel novam reparare oporteret loquelam. Est enim z maxima pars eorum locutionis: que quidem littera non sine multa rigiditate profertur. (5) If there is anyone who thinks that what I have just said about the Tuscans could not be applied to the Genoese, let him consider only that if, through forgetfulness, the people of Genoa lost the use of the letter z, they would either have to fall silent for ever or invent a new language for themselves. For z forms the greater part of their vernacular, and it is, of course, a letter that cannot be pronounced without considerable harshness.