The Italy Literary Language Part II

By | February 14, 2022

Italy, along with Romania, is part of the great eastern group of romance countries, where the plural of nouns and adjectives is given by the nominative and not (as in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Sardinian, Ladin) by the form of accusative (e.g.,  muri , fr.  murs , etc .;  good , sp.  buenos , fr.  bons , etc.). Since, as we have already said, the final -s  fell in the Eastern neo-Latin languages ​​(and therefore in the Italian dialects), it was natural that, in order to differentiate the plural from the singular (to distinguish, that is, a  lat.  Rosa rosa  [ m ] from  rosa [ s], a  bonu [ m ]  bono [ m ] from  bono [ s ], to use the nominative ( rosae ,  boni , etc.). For the inflectional form of the singular, however, the case that ended up triumphing over the others was generally the accusative.

According to remzfamily, the demonstration that the form of the singular continues in the Latin accusative can be given starting from the central-southern metaphonical conditions. Here, as we have seen, the – ŭ  of the accusative has had an influence on the tonic vowel so that in some places the ê  and the ó ??? they have diphthongs ( ie ,  uo ) and in others they are closed ( é ???,  ọ ??? ) and the é ??? and ọ  were reduced to i  and u , except for later developments in Abruzzo and northern Puglia. If we have a masc. good  next to the femm. good, if we have, p. eg, a  mié ??? r ə k ə “doctor” in Arpino next to a  “honey” apple  , the reason lies in having had this in the final – ŭ . If we had had another vowel, an  o , an ‘ a , an  e  (e.g.  Lat.bono , i.e. an abl. Or a dat.), The metaphonesis would not have been able to manifest itself and the diphthong would not be could arise. The same is said for cases like  sikk ə “dry”, next to the femm. s ẹ kka  “dry”, where the i  is always determined by the – u. These central-southern conditions are reflected in the Ladin, where we have, for example, a masc. gries  (from  gruos ) “big”, next to the fem. large  and plur. gros  (Latin  grossos ). In Tuscan there was no metaphonesis, but this is not a good reason to exclude Tuscan from the historical process of the other dialects. It is legitimate to broaden the results of the considerations made on central-southern dialects and to conclude also for the Tuscan, that is, for the literary language, that the inflectional form of the singular is based on the Latin accusative.

If in the singular the victory of the accusative did not prevent the remains of the nominative, ablative and even genitive in Italian (eg  friar ,  screech ,  stazzo , ant.  Nun  and  “sister”  nun  , wicker ,  Monday , etc.), in the plural the triumph of the nominative was, we can say, complete. It was caused by the fall of -s , a phenomenon, perhaps, of remote Etruscan reason, and for it the Latin phrase itself was also arranged in a new way: the subject came to precede the verb and, for example, a  Paulum amat Petrus  dové change into  Petru [ s ] ama [ t ]  Paulu [ m ]. There are no other cases left but some pronouns ( they ,  they ), some antiquated form ( paganoro ,  feminoro , etc.) of the genitive and some place name from the ablative.

Expansion of Italian. – If on the one hand the Italian language owes a lot to foreign languages, on the other hand it has introduced many terms into other foreign languages, and this since ancient times. Of all the languages ​​that have undergone foreign influence, the one that holds the first place is the neo-Greek, which has drawn mainly from the Venetian dialect. In France, literary Italian influenced the time of the Renaissance, to which period the Italian words that penetrated into Polish also date back. Northern European languages ​​owe less to Italy, for which the medium was often French. In the Balkans, with the exception of Serbo-Croatian and Albanian, which several voices have derived directly from the central-southern dialects, the spread of Italian terms took place through Greek. Especially for the ages. XVIII-XIX, some direct influence can also be seen in Romania. Italy has also made some contribution to the so-called “lingua franca”, that is, to a mixed nautical language, now almost extinct (see franca, lingua).

The question of language. – Rivers of ink have poured over the Tuscan character, or not, of the literary language, starting from the early sixteenth century. The question of language arose from the beginning on this basis: whether literary Italian was a dialect (Florentine or, more generally, Tuscan) or was a language independent of all dialects. Thus, two main theories arose: one of the “Florentine”, which split into two doctrines: the modern Florentine and the ancient Tuscan; and the other of “Italianness”. According to this latter theory, the Italian language should be considered the work of writers, who, each according to their own taste and culture, would draw to a greater or lesser extent from all dialects, thus creating illustrious Italian. It was natural that the thesis of Italianity should be influenced by the Dante’s De vulgari eloquentia  . GG Trissino had stated that Dante had condemned the Tuscan dialect. In reality, Dante, in search of his illustrious, stately, cardinal vulgar (a vulgar in short proper to poetry) had thought of tracing it under the dialectal alterations. But even before Dante’s treatise was printed, Calmeta (Vincenzo Collo) in a lost work had proposed replacing the Tuscan with a “courteous” language. According to Bembo, the courteous language of Calmeta would have been the language of the court of Rome. B. Castiglione had argued that the illustrious language should be a courtly, noble language, but not that of the court of Rome, but of the noble and cultured society of the Italian courts. P. Bembo, on the other hand, in  the Prose della vulgar lingua (1525) had not hesitated to advocate the thesis of archaic Florentine, insisting on the imitation of the classics, that is of the Tuscan writers of the century. XIV. L. Castelvetro will then rise up against this theory of archaicity. N. Machiavelli decisively affirmed that literary Italian could only be the living Florentine. A demonstration of the Florentine theory attempted B. Varchi in Herculaneum. Long, sophisticated, complicated discussions, which lie outside the real history of the language, but which had a certain importance from the national point of view, and left a long aftermath and influenced, more or less, writers from Ariosto to Manzoni. It is known that Giordani and Leopardi opposed “Florentineism” and rather re-attached themselves to Bembo in their sympathy for the fourteenth-century Tuscan, in which they met with the most fervent of the fourteenth-century supporters, Antonio Cesari.

But the Tuscan imposed himself outside and above these discussions: the Tuscan, let’s say, of the learned Florentine type, that is, not exactly what Manzoni went to look for on the banks of the Arno but rather what GI Ascoli succeeded in to characterize in his memorable preface to the Italian Glottological Archive  (1873).

We have seen through which subtle fibrils the literary language is reunited with the Florentine. But we must not forget that the trunk of this language was nourished by sap from other regions and more properly from the whole Italian culture, because in reality the whole peninsula has contributed to varying degrees and contributes, with Tuscany, to creating it, which we can study it concretely in the works of writers and which is renewed, every hour, by talking about it and making it ever richer and more varied.

The Italy Literary Language 2