Tag Archives: Tuscanisation

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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Tuscany meets Milan @ Datini office™ ☞ 1382

Josh Brown   University of Western Australia

220px-Francesco_di_Marco_DatiniWhen did Tuscan language forms reach Lombardy? The earliest time that Tuscanisation has been suggested for Milan is during the late Quattrocento when Tuscan became a model for the chancery, well before its codification by Bembo in the Cinquecento. But can evidence for an earlier presence be found? I believe it can. My key source for an earlier dating of Tuscanisation is the correspondence between merchants from Milan and the 14th century Tuscan merchant Francesco di Marco Datini (c.1335-1410), the famous ‘merchant of Prato’.

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