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BY 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2019

On the origins of Italian anzi

Jacqueline Visconti


The diachronic investigation of discourse markers has proven challenging since its inception in the late Eighties. Their context dependency and frequent association with informal, colloquial usage have raised methodological, as well as theoretical, questions, as historical work has to rely on written texts, which record speech with varying degrees of accuracy, and provide no access to prosodic cues. Using Old to Present Day Italian databases, in particular the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano, the contribution details the evolution of discourse marker anzi ‘on the contrary’ from spatial and temporal uses to its present-day contrastive-corrective function, by focusing on the role of the comparative structure in the shift. The importance of different types of contexts and genres will be discussed, for instance, Old Italian volgarizzamenti, translations or adaptations (or both) of Latin prose originals into vernacular versions, where the rendering with anzi can be compared to the original item in the Latin source text.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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