Language Change and Areal Linguistics: Notes on Western Piedmont

Massimo Cerruti 1  and Riccardo Regis 2
  • 1 Dipartimento di Scienze del Linguaggio, e di Letterature Moderne e Comparate, Università degli Studi di Torino, Via S. Ottavio, 20, 10124 Torino, Italy. massimo.cerruti@alepo.it, www.alepo.it // redazione@alepo.it
  • 2 Dipartimento di Scienze del Linguaggio, e di Letterature Moderne e Comparate, Università degli Studi di Torino, Via S. Ottavio, 20, 10124 Torino, Italy. riccardoregis@hotmail.com, www.alepo.it // redazione@alepo.it

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to present a small selection of linguistic facts that describe currents and contrasts in the Cisalpine Valleys, relying on some ALEPO [Atlante Linguistico ed Etnografico del Piemonte Occidentale – Linguistic and Ethnographic Atlas of Western Piedmont] data.

The area investigated is characterized by a close relationship between different languages and cultures. As it is well known, the Gallo-Italic languages of Piedmont are spoken along with local dialects of two Gallo-Romance languages, Occitan and Franco-Provençal; Italian (and, in some areas, French) obviously has to be added to this rich linguistic repertoire. Data have been collected in 42 localities: 32 pertaining to the Gallo-Romance domain (13 Franco-Provençal- and 19 Occitan-speaking); and 10 belonging to the Gallo-Italic one. The localities in question have been chosen ta take account of both social and linguistic dynamics.

Socio-cultural and economic changes that deeply affected the Alpine Valleys in the last century have also had linguistic consequences, with increasing Italian and Piedmontese influence on varieties of Gallo-Romance, and of Italian on Piedmontese; nevertheless, some instances of mutual influencing between Occitan and Franco-Provençal are also documented, as well as significant reactions on the part of these varieties to dominant codes (namely Piedmontese, Italian, and French).

We deal here with language change at three levels of linguistic analysis (lexical, morphological, and phonetic), showing moreover how a traditional reading of the maps may also yield results of sociolinguistic import.

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Dialectologia et Geolinguistica publishes contributions on the variation of languages world-wide, systematic and inherent, diachronic and synchronic, regional and social, based on either oral or written data. It is open to all theoretical and methodological approaches. The journal is the official journal of the International Society for Dialectology and Geolinguistics (ISDG/SIDG).

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