Mother Tongues and Other Reflections on the Italian Language
Published: December 2002© 2002
152 Pages, 5.73 x 8.92 x 0.73 in
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Italian is unique among modern European languages, for although it has a history going back eight centuries, it has only consolidated as a spoken national language during the twentieth century. Previously, it was a written, literary language, and people spoke regional dialects that were strikingly different from each other. This has intriguing implications for understanding notions such as mother tongue, native speaker, and literary language, and Giulio Lepschy discusses these and other issues in this collection of six scholarly essays on the Italian language.
Lepschy also explores a little understood aspect of Italian prosody (the system of secondary stresses), and analyzes a Venetian play of the Renaissance, La Veniexiana, in which a 'gendered' reading helps to clarify some grammatically controversial passages. These aspects of the play had been examined by Carlo Dionisotti, the eminent Italianist whose life and works are the subject of the final essay. Lepschy's approach combines the insights of modern linguistic theory and the findings of fresh and original philological investigations. His essays will be essential to anyone interested in the Italian language.
'All the chapters are of a very high standard, offering masterly treatments of some important topics in Italian linguistics, together with thought-provoking comments on literary texts and a splendid assessment of the life and work of a great literary and linguistic scholar, Carlo Dionisotti. Giulio Lepschy's style of exposition is admirably lucid throughout, even when his material is complex and controversial, and the studies are documented comprehensively.'Brian Richardson, Department of Italian, University of Leeds
'This set of lectures displays the intellectual sharpness, the formal clarity, and the stylistic 'friendliness' that distinguish the entire corpus of Professor Lepschy's published writings. The work is of great interest to the specialist while being perfectly accessible to the college student and curious general reader. At a time when critical discourse in language and literature is normally shrouded in technical, often incomprehensible jargon, Lepschy's clarity of thought and style is a welcome breath of fresh air.'Lino Pertile, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, and Master of Eliot House, Harvard University