From linguistic innovation to language change
A corpus-based investigation of the response marker non c’ è problema
This study investigates the diachrony of the Italian expression non c’ è problema ‘no problem’ when used as a response marker (e.g., Tottie 1991; Ward 2006) to establish if it represents a case of language change (Milroy, 1992: 171). If on the one hand, the expression was indeed reported to be a neologism by Radtke in 1990, a careful exploration of the relevant literature on the other has revealed that a diachronic, quantitative and pragmatic investigation of its distribution has not been conducted yet. Methodologically, the study conducts lexicographic, quantitative and qualitative analyses over a range of historical and contemporary dictionaries and corpora and it performs statistical significance tests, such as the Log Likelihood and the Fisher’s exact test. The results will reveal not only that this marker started to be used in 1977, but also that today, it is the response marker preferred by language users, thus qualifying as a case of language change. Furthermore, by analysing the diachronic distribution of no problem in English, the article will also explore the possibility that English may have been the source language for such change.