Linguistic events have helped shape Italian history and culture: medieval fragmentation; subservience to humanistic Latin; 16th-century codification; modern society’s scientific, economic and legal demands; national unification; the development of mass media; the generalization of the Italian language and the concomitant decline of dialects; and today’s new evolutionary tendencies. Until the early 20th century Italian was a noble literary language and sadly distant from the daily life of the majority of the population; today it is subject to the typical tensions stemming from the relaxation of grammar norms. The Italian language is a faithful mirror of a country and its contradictions. This book introduces the non-specialist reader to the key events which have accompanied the development of a major national language, describes its transformation and explains its evolution up to the present day.
Roberta Cella teaches Italian Linguistics at the University of Pisa.