History of the Italian Language 2

In the seventeenth century, more relevant than the stylistic virtuosity of the marinists, were the consolidation of the use and the beginning of new terminologies in the field of experimental sciences. In the eighteenth century the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and later the Napoleonic campaigns and the reorganization of Italy under the French aegis they opened the doors to imitation from beyond the Alps, with notable consequences on the lexicon and syntax (triumph of short periods over large Boccaccio-like structures), and the introduction of Frenchisms. The result was a reaction of the purists, whose forerunner and main exponent was A. Cesari, who advocated a return to the simplicity and purity of the style and vocabulary of the fourteenth century. A different way followed A. Manzoni, which he practically carried out in the Promessi Sposiand in theory he advocated a living, modern, unitary language, modeled no longer on the imitation of the written language of the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, but on the use of cultured Florentines. More than any theoretical discussion, however, the Unification of Italy contributed to consolidating a norm valid for the whole nation.

As regards the spoken language, in reality it is only in the second half of the twentieth century that Italian has spread widely, reducing the scope of use of dialects, through the great means of communication of the word (school, newspapers, radio, television, advertising), and the need for increasingly frequent relations with the administration, bureaucracy, political parties, while in the early years of the century the period of military life was often the only opportunity, and only for male population, of detachment from the dialect environment. Therefore, those who speak Italian have increased and the dialects have become Italian, as numerous bilingual subjects have begun to insert Italian forms and ways even when they are expressed in dialect. Simultaneously with the action from above, another action from below is determined, leading, in some respects, to similar results. As long as the phenomenon of urbanism moved relatively few people towards the large centers from the surrounding countryside, the new element was able to introduce some rustic characters into the city dialect, without putting it in crisis; when the big cities were invaded by growing masses of emigrants from distant regions, the only possibility of understanding between the old and new citizens was the national language, albeit in more or less regionalized versions. Usually, the second generation of emigrants does not speak the dialect of their parents and does not tend towards the local dialect; mixed marriages speed up the process. In a few decades the Italian regional capitals, from active dialect centers, have become centers for the diffusion of the national language. The widespread use of the common language and the contemporary dilution of dialects have favored the affirmation of the regional varieties of Italian, which result from the adoption of the common language through a continuous mediation of dialectal elements. The regional varieties with the greatest expansive strength, for socio-cultural reasons, are the Romanesque and the Northern (Lombard) type.

The Latin heritage

According to thefreegeography, the fundamental part of Italian is made up of Latin words that have been transmitted continuously from generation to generation. Long lists of words can be compiled which are, except for a few phonetic changes, identical in Latin and Italian: homo = man, pater = father, mater = mother, canis = dog, earth = earth, caelum = sky, calidus = warm, frigidus = cold, to believe =believe, sleep = sleep etc. In other cases the Italian word does not continue the one used in classical Latin, but the one predominant in the imperial age. To express the concept of ‘beautiful’ neither pulcher nor formosus were maintained: bellus survived, which, used by Plautus to Cicero in the meaning of ‘nice, nice’, took on the more general meaning of ‘beautiful’ in the imperial age. Numerous words in the transition from Latin to Italian have undergone a semantic shift (from the Cubar Latin “lie” one comes to hatch, from pullus, the ‘little’ of any animal, to chickenetc.); no less important is the new color given by Christianity to large sections of the vocabulary: for example, the word captivus “prisoner” has come to the current meaning of ‘bad’ due to the use that some Fathers of the Church had made of it using captivus diaboli in the sense of ‘possessed’, therefore ‘bad’.

Basing themselves mainly on this mass of hereditary words and studying the transformations undergone in sounds, inflections, constructs passing from Latin to Tuscan, in particular to Florentine, linguists have built the Italian historical grammar in its various branches (phonology, morphology, historical syntax). When in Latin there was a tonic ĕ (or ae) in a free syllable, this vowel is usually diphthongized in Florentine: tĕne [ t ] = holds etc. The Latin groups pl, bl, fl, cl etc. occur in Italian with the alteration of the l in isemivocal: plenu [ m ] = full etc. When the Tuscan appears in full documentary light, in the 13th century, the most characteristic changes have already occurred. Other variations occurred over the centuries: the diphthongs ie, u or after the groups pr, br, tr etc. lose the i and u: together, truova are reduced starting from the 15th century. a press, find. There is no shortage of changes undergone by the literary Florentine in expanding beyond the borders of Tuscany.

History of the Italian Language 2