Languages and identities in contact in the globalization era: the italian case
Monica Barni, Carla Bagna and Sabrina Machetti (Università per Stranieri di Siena, Italy)
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The investigation falls within the activities of the Centre of Excellence for Research Permanent Linguistic Observatory of the Italian Language among Foreigners and of Immigrant Languages in Italy of Siena University for Foreigners, in one of the various lines of research underway at the Centre, Immigrant languages in Italy, which seeks to monitor the trends bestirring the linguistic space of Italian in contact with the languages that have entered Italy through migratory events.
By focusing our research on the ways and effects of entry of the migrant groups’ languages into the Italian linguistic space, our aim is to analyse the data collected on the ground to verify the hypothesis that these languages may constitute a factor that restores space and vitality to Italy’s longstanding plurilingualism, adding elements of new plurilingualism.
Indeed in recent years in Italy we have witnessed a massive turning point: the generalised diffusion of a commonly shared spoken Italian, a language used by the vast majority of Italian society. Italy is also characterised by the presence of so called “historic” linguistic minorities; these linguistic minorities, and their varied numbers of speakers, are diversely safeguarded through legislation (Law 482 of December 15, 1999). However, this law exclude the immigrant languages, which we consider here to be “new” minorities with an entirely new status which has become the object of wide debate.
The purpose of the investigation is to analyse the conditions and modes of contact between groups with different identities, cultures and languages, hypothesising, amongst the possible outcomes, that which gives rise to the creation of a social space with complex dynamics.
The investigation builds upon a geolinguistic mapping operation, which covered different situations within the Italian space: small and medium-small towns, big cities, etc. The application of the different investigative models has shown that the mapping and measuring of linguistic diversity is an operation that must take into account various factors, including the different socio-cultural characteristics that make interaction possible between the new plurilingualism and the pre-existing linguistic make-up on a local and national scale.
The ultimate objective of the investigation is to show how the territory and the pressure of the speech communities found within it can constitute determining factors for the openness / closedness of contact, at the same time giving rise to different outcomes in terms of integration and mixing between languages and cultures.