The dialects differ very much in different parts of the island, so that those who speak one often cannot understand those who speak another, and use Italian as the medium of communication.
Between several of these dialects it is probable that closer affinities exist.
The whole country was occupied by a variety of tribes, speaking agglutinative dialects for the most part, though the western districts were occupied by Semites.
They are broken up into almost countless tribes and clans, many of which number only a few hundred individuals, and their language consequently presents a variety of dialects, of which no classification has yet been effected: in the district of Posia alone a member of the Presbyterian mission distinguished eight different mutually unintelligible dialects.
Similar changes had taken place in some of the local dialects of Italy before the Christian era.