Vol. 19:2/3 (1992) ► pp.301–316
The beginnings of phonology in Italy
It is known that structural phonology (and, more generally, structural linguistics) began in Italy later than in other European countries. In the general opinion, this was due to the hegemony of Benedetto Croces’s philosophy during the years between World War I and his death in 1952. This paper shows how an early attempt to give a structural description of Italian phonology (Porru 1939) encountered an exceptionally harsh review (Pisani 1939), which appears to have been motivated more by personal and academic considerations than by philosophical or theoretical grounds. The authority of Pisani seemed to discourage any other attempt by Italian linguists to join European structuralism until about 1950. In fact, in that year two articles appeared (by no other than Pisani and by Devoto) which seemed to mark the end of a prohibition. The conclusion that may be drawn from this episode is that the development of sciences depends not only on general theoretical and cultural frames but also on actions and choices of individuals.