Category Archives: Language and Linguistics

Language Variation in Renaissance Italy

Josh Brown   Stockholm University

Renaissance Italy saw the creation of the Italian language and of most major European standard languages. In Italy itself, no political centre dominated the entire peninsular, so no standard language was immediately obvious. The dialect chosen for the standard had the most prestigious literary tradition – Florentine. The existing literature has shown how Florentine emerged as a dominant variety in Lombardy – a wealthy region particularly interesting for its mix of political centralisation and persisting local traditions – but it has focussed on literary texts, leaving an entire period of language evolution and variation unexplored in the belief that models of language variation and changes of literary standards will suffice to explain linguistic phenomena in non-literary texts. This bias has recently been discussed by Adam Ledgeway from the University of Cambridge in a lecture at NYU Florence. In my earlier research I looked at the spread of Tuscan in a corpus of non-literary merchant texts sent from Milan in the late 14th century. I am now extending this project to the analysis of the letters of a Milanese nun, Margherita Lambertenghi (?-1454), to produce an innovative conceptualisation of processes of language change in late medieval Lombardy. Continue reading

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Ministro o ministra? Sindaco o sindaca?

bg_articolo_standard-1The 2016 issue of Gender/sexuality/Italy, an annual peer-reviewed journal which publishes research on gendered identities and the ways they intersect with and produce Italian politics, culture and society, is devoted to the question of language and gender. The editor, Nicoletta Marini-Maio, sets in a historical and linguistic context the issues raised by how to address the minister Maria Elena Boschi and the mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi. Other contributions include an analysis of the ways violence against women is presented in the media, the importance of gender, age and immediate context in determining variations between male and female language use, and a review of Over the Rainbow City. Towards a New LGBT Citizenship in Italy (2015) edited by Fabio Corbisiero.

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Italian Studies position at Monash

monash-university-logoThe Italian Studies program within the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University seeks to fill a continuing position at Level D or Level C (Associate Professor or Senior Lecturer) to be taken up from July 2017. The appointee will be an established scholar with a significant record of research in one or more of the following areas: contemporary or 20th Century Italian cultural, literary or film studies; medieval and/or renaissance Italian cultural or literary studies; applied linguistics; translation and intercultural studies. Interdisciplinary approaches are particularly welcome.   The full position description and information on how to apply (closing date: Sunday 30 October 2016) is available here.

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9th Biennial ACIS Conference: Monash Prato, 4-7 July 2017


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The 9th Biennial ACIS conference, Scontri e incontri: the dynamics of Italian transcultural exchanges, hosted in association with the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, will be held at the Monash University Centre in Prato, Italy, on 4-7 July 2017. The conference will explore sites of contact, connection and exchange in the Italian context. Some can be understood as open sites of interaction and juxtaposition in which people, goods and ideas from across the globe come and go and which are shaped by important trajectories of trade or distinctive histories of colonialism, imperialism or globalisation. When encounters occur in contexts of asymmetrical relations of power, no exchange or contact is present without an inherent confrontation. Language is used to create or manipulate perceptions that are formed when worlds collide. It turns contact into an uneven exchange, such as colonisation, modern warfare and even gender relations. What are the repercussions of such uneven exchanges? How can examining these notions and their representations help illuminate common debates around identity (politics), ideology, globalisation and crisis, human rights, memory and history, the environment, and individual bodies, among others? Conversely, how can we better understand the potential of modern diasporas to connect cultures and lead to collaboration and renewal, through the establishment of wider-ranging networks and positive forms of exchange? The organisers are now calling for paper and panel proposals, to be submitted here, by 31 October 2016.

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Spaghetti/Knödel in the South Tyrol

280px-Language_distribution_in_South_Tyrol,_Italy_2011,_enSouth Tyrol, situated on the border between Austria and Italy, has been considered a ‘peace model’ by many nation-states since the creation of the province’s autonomy statutes. The aim of those statutes was to allow for minority protection of the German- and Ladin-speaking communities while also permitting Austria to be the ‘protector’ of South Tyrol even though the province is situated in Italy. A by-product of the statutes was the creation of the ‘separate but equal’ education system, which allowed the German-, Italian- and Ladin-speaking communities to have individual schools in order to protect their culture and language identity. In recent years marriages between members of different language groups have increased and a requirement for applicants for certain civil service positions to have an adequate comprehension of the L2 or in some cases L3 has been imposed. In ‘Half spaghetti-half Knödel: cultural division through the lens of language learning‘ Anne Wand has examined how the South Tyrolean school system has coped with the changing circumstances and with the pressures to move to an increasingly bilingual society. 

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Flourishing in a Second Language: Workshop programme

6886474Can learning a second language contribute to first-year university students’ psychological, social and emotional well-being? This question led LCNAU members Dr Antonella Strambi and Dr Ann Luzeckyj, both from Flinders University and Assoc Prof Antonia Rubino, from The University of Sydney, to develop the Flourishing in a Second Language (FL2) project – a language curriculum for first-year university students which integrates positive psychology, transition pedagogy and Content-and-Language-Integrated Learning (CLIL) principles. As part of this project, a series of free workshops in September are being conducted around the country, to which LCNAU members are warmly invited. In each workshop (details and downloads below), the team will share information about the FL2 project, and provide opportunities for participants to be actively involved in reflection, discussion and creation of materials that integrate positive psychology, transition pedagogy and CLIL principles. Continue reading

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Machiavelli in the British Isles

PETRINA JKT(240x159)PATHIn the century before the first printed English translation of Machiavelli’s The Prince appeared in 1640, at least four translations in English had circulated in manuscript form. The only one which was not anonymous was produced in Scotland ‘virtuously and valiantlye  and with great and magnanime courage’ by William Fowler, poet, courtier and former spy who enjoyed the company of heretics and was therefore attracted to the task of diffusing a text under Papal ban. Alessandra Petrina (University of Padova), author of Machiavelli in the British Isles (Ashgate, 2009) will give a talk under that title, co-sponsored by the Museo Italiano and the Faculty of Arts of the University of Melbourne, at the Museo Italiano, 189 Faraday Street, Carlton, on Thursday, 22 September 2016 from 10:00 – 11.3oam. The talk will focus on Anglo-Italian relations in early modern Europe and the reception of a book that was often used as a tool to learn the Italian language. Professor Petrina will complement it with a session from 12:00 – 1:30pm providing a contemporary view on the teaching of English in primary and secondary schools in Italy.

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‘A sickly poet of high reputation’

220px-Leopardi,_Giacomo_(1798-1837)_-_ritr._A_Ferrazzi,_Recanati,_casa_LeopardiThat was Giacomo Leopardi as described by an English diarist who met him in Florence in 1831. The latest issue of the TLS (July 8) has a review by Joseph Luzzi of recent translations of Leopardi: the Zibaldone (edited by Michael Caesar and Franco D’Intino, translated by Kathleen Baldwin et al) and Passions (a selection of reflections on the emotions, translated by Tim Parks). The reviewer concludes: ‘It is not easy making one’s way through so conflicted and labyrithine a mind and the risk of losing oneself is great – but, to quote Leopardi, it is sweet to be shipwrecked in such a sea’. Yale UP hosts a conversation with Parks in which he talks about Passions; and the blog/podcast TLS Voices carries Parks’ reading from Leopardi on desperation as well as his thoughts on translating the writer.

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Giovanni Carsaniga (1934-2016)

Nerida Newbigin   University of Sydney

51w4zfLlQJL._SX350_BO1,204,203,200_Emeritus Professor Giovanni Carsaniga, well known to many Italianists in Australia and abroad, has died in London on 27 March 2016 at the age of 82. Most recently he held the chair of Italian Studies at the University of Sydney from 1990 to 2000, the third holder of the chair which had been established in 1963 and held by Frederick May from December 1963 to January 1976 and by Gino Lorenzo Rizzo from 1977 to 1987. He had previously held the Vaccari Foundation Chair of Italian Studies at La Trobe University from 1982 to 1989 and been been the Visiting Professor of Italian at the University of Western Australia for two years from 1975 to 1977. His earlier academic career had been spent in the United Kingdom, progressing through junior positions at the Universities of Aberdeen, Cambridge and Birmingham, before joining the University of Sussex in 1966, where he rose to the position of Reader. He was elected to a fellowship of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1989, and appointed Cavaliere Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana in 1999. Continue reading

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Sessional tutors in Italian, University of Sydney

Usyd_new_logoThe School of Languages and Cultures (SLC) at the University of Sydney currently has opportunities available for sessional tutors in several languages including Italian. The School offers a wide range of language and culture studies and is currently looking for motivated teaching staff who are interested in casual work during semester. The general eligibility criteria can be found here. Applicants for Italian Studies should forward their cv along with a cover letter addressing the criteria to Giorgia Alù.