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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

CiteScore 2016: 0.53

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.505
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.716

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Volume 2011, Issue 210


The declining status of Italian as a language of scientific communication and the issue of diglossia in scientific communities

Emilia Calaresu
Published Online: 2011-06-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2011.032


Like other European national languages, Italian is rapidly losing prestige in favor of English, both in national and international scientific communication. Clear signs of this declining status can be noted in particular in national and international scientific literature (research papers, editorials, etc.) in terms of language policy and usage. This paper will discuss: i) the growing impact of written texts and active biliteracy in science; ii) the meaning and the general implications of the changing language policies of Italian scientific journals; iii) diglossia in scientific communication. This particular type of diglossia has already been mentioned by many researchers and it will be compared here to the classical and the broader meaning of the notion of diglossia. Such a comparison aims to understand whether it is appropriate to apply the label of “diglossia” also to this specific type of functional compartmentalization of codes. The crucial role of biliteracy will be examined within the Italian context, which will also be compared to the Swedish one. This study concludes that, despite significant differences in the progress rate of their status loss, national languages such as Italian (and the languages of other European scientific communities) seem to witness major language displacements in favor of English in science, higher education and other élite domains.

Keywords:: scientific communication; diglossia; Italian; biliteracy; literacy

About the article

Published Online: 2011-06-25

Published in Print: 2011-07-01

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2011, Issue 210, Pages 93–108, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2011.032.

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