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LINGUIST List 22.2111

Wed May 18 2011

Diss: Historical Ling:Brown: 'Early Evidence for Tuscanisation in ...'

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        1.     Joshua Brown , Early Evidence for Tuscanisation in the Letters of Milanese Merchants in the Datini Archive, Prato, 1396-1402

Message 1: Early Evidence for Tuscanisation in the Letters of Milanese Merchants in the Datini Archive, Prato, 1396-1402
Date: 18-May-2011
From: Joshua Brown <Josh.Brownuwa.edu.au>
Subject: Early Evidence for Tuscanisation in the Letters of Milanese Merchants in the Datini Archive, Prato, 1396-1402
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Institution: University of Western Australia
Program: Faculty of Arts
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Joshua J Brown

Dissertation Title: Early Evidence for Tuscanisation in the Letters of Milanese Merchants in the Datini Archive, Prato, 1396-1402

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Italian (ita)

Dissertation Director:
Lorenzo Polizzotto
John J Kinder

Dissertation Abstract:

The process of Tuscanisation, understood here as the adoption of Tuscan
linguistic forms in non-Tuscan regions, affected different areas of
medieval Italy at different times. In the linguistic history of Lombardy,
this is generally considered to have become discernible in literary texts
during the late Trecento. In non-literary texts, the earliest time that has
been suggested is during the late Quattrocento.

This thesis examines a corpus of letters sent from Milan by merchants
between 1396-1402 to show that a process of Tuscanisation was occurring
even earlier. These letters, written to the 'merchant of Prato' Francesco
Datini and his associates around the Mediterranean, seem to show a strong
presence of Tuscan or Tuscanised forms. These letters have been published
by Frangioni (1994) and are subjected to a linguistic analysis for the
first time here. I define a corpus of five Milanese writers based on
biographical information taken from economic histories of medieval Milan
and Italy, studies of medieval anthroponomy as well as family histories,
and highlight evidence of Tuscanisation in both the phonology and
morphology in the letters from these five merchants.

Both phonology and morphology present a wide variety of outcomes.
Uncertainty regarding 'correct' Tuscan usage is evident in hypercorrect
occurrences of certain phenomena, such as diphthongs. Consonants, too, show
much variation and a strong presence of Latin or Latinizing forms. Tuscan
or Tuscanised forms are found to be present in all areas of morphology.
Overall, I find that the language is essentially Tuscan, with clearly
identifiable Lombard and Latin forms less evident. The strong presence of
Tuscan in this corpus of letters by Milanese merchants may suggest a
process of accommodation towards their Tuscan interlocutors.

Chapter 1 provides a description of the principal linguistic developments
in Lombardy during the 14th and 15th centuries, namely, the formation of
the pan-Lombard koinè and the adoption of Tuscan as a linguistic model. The
chapter surveys various datings proposed in the literature for the
emergence of Tuscanisation in the linguistic history of Lombardy. Chapter 2
gives a brief introduction to the structure of Francesco Datini's trade
network and a description of the role which Datini's major employees played
in Milan. This information serves as a context for the description of all
merchants from Milan whose correspondence is housed in the Archive, which
is the object of the following chapter. Chapter 3 defines a homogeneous set
of letters taken from Frangioni's 1994 edition of the 810 Milanese letters,
by providing biographical information on the writers from Milan. It defines
the corpus of letters to be used for a linguistic analysis in the following
two chapters. Chapter 4 analyses the phonology and orthography from the
corpus while noun and verb morphology is dealt with in Chapter 5. Forms
present in the corpus are contrasted against contemporary variants of
Lombard and Tuscan in order to determine their attribution to either a
Lombard or Tuscan form. Cases where attribution is impossible due to a
similarity of forms between these vernaculars and Latin are also
highlighted. Chapter 6 provides some concluding remarks. All letters in the
corpus have been checked against original manuscripts and all amendments
proposed to Frangioni's edition are outlined in the Appendix.

The findings of this study contribute to our understanding of the history
of the vernacular in Lombardy as well as the presence of Tuscan in merchant

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