Language planning for Italian regional languages (“dialects”)
In addition to twelve recognized minority languages (Law no. 482/1999), Italy features a number of non-recognized so-called “dialects” that is difficult to state, but which renowned linguists like Tullio De Mauro and Giulio Lepschy calculate as ranging between 12 and 15. These languages are still spoken (and sometimes written) by slightly less than half of the Italian population and are the first languages of a significant part of it. Some of them even have a history of (semi)official usage and feature large and interesting literary traditions. An introduction on the linguistic situation in Italy, the classification of its “dialects” and their state of endangerment, is followed by discussion of the present (scant) legislation and action being taken to protect the seven language varieties chosen as case studies: Piedmontese, Western Lombard/Milanese, Venetan, Ligurian/Genoese, Roman, Neapolitan and Sicilian. These language planning strategies are discussed particularly in terms of graphization (corpus planning), status and acquisition planning, even when, as in most cases, this “planning” may be uncoordinated and even unconscious. The article closes with a few general considerations and with some suggestions on how these initiatives could be improved.
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