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Italian language Italian language Presentation Transcript

  • History of the Italian language The development of the literary and standard language
  • Italian today
    • Total speakers:
      • 70 million native
      • 125 million as second language
  • Italian today
  • Italian dialects - dialects of Italy
  • Dialects of Italy
  • From Standard to Dialect
    • national language
      • [anda:te a kka:sa raga:ttsi]
    • regional italian
      • [anda:te a ka:za raga:si]
    • regional dialect
      • [nde ka:za to:zi]
    • local dialect
      • [ve ka:za tu:zi]
  • A historical view
    • How did the present day linguistic situation originate?
  • Middle Ages
    • Written language: Latin (minority)
    • Spoken language: Vernaculars derived from spoken Latin (majority)
  • Why did spoken Latin evolve differently in different parts of Italy?
    • Substratum
      • the Italian dialects are Latin as spoken by Celts, Veneti, Etruscans, Umbrians, Oscans, etc.
    • Superstratum
    • Adstratum
  • When do the Romance languages begin?
    • Speakers become aware of the existence of not two varieties of the same language , but of two different languages (bilingualism)
    • First documents: 9th - 10th century
  • Literary vernacular
    • 13th century: Sicilian poetry, Umbrian religious texts, northern Italian didactic poems, Bolognese and then Tuscan verse and prose.
  • Political, economic and cultural fragmentation
  • Political, economic and cultural fragmentation
  • Efforts to create a common literary language
    • Italy remained politically fragmented for centuries
    • institutionalization of a common literary language
  • Dante Alighieri
    • The Florentine dialect of the Comedy became the basis of the national literary language
      • excellence of the Florentine literature in the 14th century
      • political, cultural, economical prestige of Florence
      • linguistic characteristics of Tuscan dialects
  • Dante’s Comedy
    • Petrarch, in one of his letters writes that the Divina Commedia circulated: "inter ydiotas in tabernis et in foro"
  • Questione della lingua (16th century)
    • What sort of vernacular was best suited ad a medium for literary expression?
    • Pietro Bembo: archaic Tuscan, as represented by vernacular classics, Boccaccio for prose and Petrarch for poetry.
  • Puristic tendencies
    • literature in Italian in the 17th - 18th century:
      • rhetorical preoccupations, formal perfection
      • Vocabolario degli accademici della Crusca (1612): to provide the norm to which Italian writers should conform
  • How could a modern national literature flourish in these conditions?
    • Manzoni did not want to adopt the rhetorical and obsolete language of the past
    • He wrote his masterpiece three times, trying as best he could the third time (1849) to make it conform to contemporary Florentine
  • How does an idiom become national language?
    • 1861: unification of Italy
    • Italian: like a dead language
    • After political unification the questione della lingua had re-emerged with a new urgency
  • How does an idiom become national language?
    • In 1873 Ascoli wrote his Proemio on Italy’s linguistic problems.
      • In Italy there was a literary language, developed by men of letters, which had never become truly national and popular .
      • The linguistic situation of a country could not be changed by decree; the formation of a national language was a complex historical phenomenon which depended on social and cultural forces .
  • Can anything be changed by decree in a language?
    • During the Fascist period (1922-1943) there were severe puristic relapses.
    • The main objectives in the nationalistic campaign:
      • repression of the dialects
      • opposition to the linguistic minorities
      • purification of the national language through the exclusion of foreign words, and the prescription of selected forms considered to be more ‘Italian’.
  • How did the linguistic situation change after the unification?
    • In 1861 the number of those able to use Italian could not have amounted to many more than 600000 (400 000 Tuscans, 70 000 Romans, and about 160 000 from the rest of Italy), i.e. 2,5% of the total population .
  • How did the linguistic situation change after the unification?
    • School (compulsory education)
    • Mass emigration
    • Industrialization, urbanization, internal migration
    • Bureaucracy
    • Army and Wars
  • How did the linguistic situation change after the unification?
    • Cinema
    • Newspapers
    • Radio
    • Television
  • How did the linguistic situation change after the unification?
    • In our days people can understand both dialect and Italian
    • people who can only speak dialect are mostly limited to the older generation
    • more and more of the younger generation can only speak Italian
    16% / 5,4% 19,1% / 6,8% 23,8% / 6,9% 32% / 13,9% speak exclusively dialect in family / with outsiders 2006 2000 1995 1988 data from istat
  • Linguistic and cultural richness of Italy
    • Different linguistic systems in different parts of Italy are integrated into a general framework which is homogeneous enough to guarantee reciprocal comprehension within the national community
    • They are differentiated enough to allow people to identify themselves in their speech with their local community and to preserve their solidarity with regional traditions
    • In their interplay these are not opposed to, but constitute national culture
  • Dialects of Italy today
    • Some audio examples
    • Dialect maps
  • Some references in English
    • Lepschy, A. L. & Lepschy, G. (1977), The Italian language today , London: Hutchinson.
    • Tosi, A. (2001), Language and society in a changing Italy , Multilingual matters 117.
    • Maiden, M. & Parry, M. (1997), The Dialects of Italy , London: Routledge.
    • Hainsworth, P. & Robey, D. (2002), The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature , Oxford: Oxford University Press.