|Region||Pannonia and Italy|
|Runic script, later shifted to Latin script|
Lombardic or Langobardic is an extinct West Germanic language that was spoken by the Lombards (Langobardi), the Germanic people who settled in Italy in the sixth century. It was already rapidly declining by the seventh century because the invaders quickly adopted the Latin vernacular spoken by the local Gallo-Roman population. Lombardic may have been in use in scattered areas until as late as c. 1000 AD. A number of place names in the Lombardy Region in Northern Italy and items of Lombard vocabulary derive from Lombardic. Some linguists have argued that the modern Cimbrian and Mocheno varieties in Northeast Italy, usually classified as Bavarian, are in fact surviving Lombard remnants. This could, in turn, indicate that Lombardic was itself a Bavarian dialect.
Lombardic is preserved only fragmentarily, the main evidence being individual words used in Latin texts. For example, the Edict of Rothari of 643, the earliest Lombard legal code, is written in Latin, with only individual legal terms given in Lombardic. The many Lombard personal names preserved in Latin deeds from the Kingdom of the Lombards also provide evidence of the language.
In the absence of Lombardic texts, it is not possible to draw any conclusions about its morphology and syntax. The genetic classification is necessarily based entirely on phonology. Because there is evidence that Lombardic participated in, and indeed shows some of the earliest evidence for, the High German consonant shift, it is classified as an Elbe Germanic or Upper German dialect. The Historia Langobardorum of Paulus Diaconus mentions a duke Zaban of 574, showing /t/ shifted to /ts/. The term stolesazo (ablative) (the second element is cognate with English seat) in the Edictum Rothari shows the same shift. Many names in the Lombard royal families show shifted consonants, particularly /b/ > /p/ in the following name components:
This sound change left two different sets of names in the Italian language: palco (< longobard palk, "beam") vs. balcone (< longobard balk, "wood platform"); panca (< longobard panka) vs. banca (longobard banka, "bench").
Numerous words in the Lombard language have been derived from Lombardic. A few examples include bicer (< Lombardic bikar, "glass"), scossà (< skauz, "apron"), busècca (< butze, "tripe") and biott (< blauths, "nude").
Formerly, Lombardic was classified as Ingaevonian (North Sea Germanic) or as Eastern Germanic, but these classifications are considered obsolete. The classification of Lombardic within the Germanic languages may be complicated by issues of orthography. According to Hutterer (1999) it is close to Old Saxon. Tacitus counts them among the Suebi. Paulus Diaconus (8th century) and the Codex Gothanus (9th century) wrote that the Lombards were ultimately of Scandinavian origin, having settled at the Elbe before entering Italy.
Lombardic fragments are preserved in runic inscriptions, in Latinized forms, and in transcriptions influenced by Old High German orthography. This Lombardic alphabet, as commonly transcribed, consists of the following graphemes:
The qu represents a [kw] sound. The ʒ is [s], e.g. skauʒ [skaus] "womb". The z is [ts]. h is [h] word-initially, and [x] elsewhere.
There are a number of Latin texts that include Lombardic names, and Lombardic legal texts contain terms taken from the legal vocabulary of the vernacular, including: