This work investigates the language of Giambattista Basile's Lo cunto de li cunti, a work that has received surprisingly little linguistic attention. The first two chapters introduce the reader to the author and the text, and to the principal Neapolitan texts consulted for the diachronic study of the language of Lo cunto. Chapter 3 examines the usage of shi in Basile's works, and in the works of other Neapolitan writers of the same era. The evidence presented here indicates clearly that the use of shi is phonetically motivated; confirmation is found in theoretical observations on the evolution of PL, BL and FL in
Italo-Romance, in data gathered from Old and Modern Neapolitan, and from Old Sicilian.
The complex relationship between analogy and metaphony is explored in
Chapters 4 and 5. The study examines morphophonemic analogy in proparoxytones, paroxytones involving masculine~feminine pairs, and feminine forms exhibiting metaphonic plurals. Through the study of the language of Lo cunto two analogical phases in the evolution of feminine forms are captured: an earlier phase in which internal pressure to distinguish number through tonic vowel alternations produced non-etymological metaphonic plurals in first class feminine nouns; a later phase in which, on account of pressure to exploit tonic vowel alternations to distinguish gender, rather than number, feminine metaphonic plurals underwent systematic weakening. Anna L. Moro is
Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Italian in the Department of
Modern Languages and Linguistics at McMaster University, in
Canada. She has published articles on historical aspects of language, and pedagogical materials for the teaching of Italian.