Tag Archives: language variation

Interregional encounters in Italy

Agnese Bresin   University of Melbourne

One of the many intriguing aspects of Italy is the diversity that characterises its regions: traditions, cuisines, political histories, economic dynamism and more. This variety includes language of course, not only the presence of Italian dialects – sister languages that developed parallel to Italian from Latin and often mutually unintelligible – but also the way Italian is spoken in different regions with the distinctive vocabularies, pronunciations and sentence structures that make up what linguists (e.g. D’Achille, 2002) call italiani regionali. So what happens when speakers move across regions, interacting with colleagues and customers who, for example, use different forms to express the same meanings or the same forms to express different meanings? How do personal experience, common knowledge and stereotypes help communication in those interregional encounters?      Continue reading

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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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