The Spoken and Written Languages in Italy from the Roman Empire to the Years of Unification and Beyond

By Roberto Bergami and Biagio Aulino.

Published by The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies

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This paper examines the linguistic power and influence of the Latin language that continued well after the fall of the Roman Empire until the early years of Renaissance as the language for the "literati." The Renaissance period symbolized a period of linguistic transformation attempting to develop a common language that people could make use of as means of communication. However, written communication and literacy remained the domain of the wealthy, the powerful and the church. In fact, at time of Italian unification in 1861, illiteracy was significantly high. In this respect, the Coppino Act of 1877 was instrumental in providing linguistic unification in the Italian peninsula. This paper highlights how the Italian language through a linguistic proposal and solution made the language of Dante the means of daily communication in Italy. The paper also discusses the role that other spoken languages have played in Italy prior and post Italian unification. The paper concludes by acknowledging that technological advances are influencing the Italian language especially with adolescents how they use their mother tongue.

Keywords: Italian Unification, Latin, Dante's Italian, Standard Italian, Italian Dialects, Minority Languages

The International Journal of Communication and Linguistic Studies, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp.109-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 573.514KB).

Dr. Roberto Bergami

Senior Lecturer (Practice of International Trade) and Associate Researcher, Centre for Strategic and Economic Studies, School of International Business, Faculty of Business and Law, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Roberto has over twenty years of experience in the manufacturing industry, primarily within the pharmaceutical sector. He has held a number of roles in finance, sales, marketing, customer service and logistics, all with an international focus. Roberto's teaching spans over twenty years with experience in Higher Education, TAFE and private education providers. He has been a full-time staff member at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia since 1998. Roberto has a Master in Education, a Master of Business by Research (Applied Economics) and a Ph.D. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of International Business and Associate Researcher of the Institute for Community, Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives. Roberto has maintained his involvement with industry through a number of peak associations, where he enjoys various grades of senior level membership. In 2002 Roberto received the State of Victoria Quarantine Award for his efforts in educating students in quarantine matters. Roberto’s main areas of research interests in international trade focus on government regulations, delivery terms (Incoterms), international payment terms and market entry barriers. His other research interests include professional development of academics/teachers, the development of communities of practice, online teaching and online communities, migration from Emilia-Romagna (Italy) to Australia and teenage/youth dialect.

Dr. Biagio Aulino

EdD Graduate, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Biagio Aulino has a Doctor of Education from the University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in the area of Second Language Education. He also has a Master of Arts degree in Italian Studies from the University of Toronto. Currently, he is Dean of French, Classical and International Languages in the York Catholic District School Board. He has been teaching for twenty years. Biagio also teaches part time at the University level in the department of Education, Methods of Foreign Languages at Niagara University in Ontario and French as a Second Language at the University of Toronto for teacher candidates who would like to teach at the elementary and secondary levels. Each summer session, Biagio teaches Italian as a Second Language to Canadian students in Italy during the month of July. His interests of study include the speech varieties of Italian Canadian adolescents, youth culture and second language acquisition.