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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Italo-Venezuelan Community of Pescara (Italy): A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Spanish in Contact with Italian Add Dissertation
Author: Joëlle Carota Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University at Buffalo, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Completed in: 2021
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Italian
Director(s): Sara Piccioni
Wolfgang Wölck

Abstract: The Italo-Venezuelan community of Pescara (Italy) is composed of multilingual speakers of Italian ancestry who have resettled in Pescara as part of a relatively recent return migration from Venezuela to Italy. Italo-Venezuelans possess varying degrees of written and oral language proficiency in Spanish, Italian and, to a lesser extent, in Abruzzese.

This dissertation investigates language contact occurring between Spanish, Italian, and Abruzzese and the linguistic and social consequences it produces. The three primary objectives of this study are: investigating Spanish language maintenance and language shift within the community, describing how daily language choices influence Italo-Venezuelans’ identity formation processes, and analyzing the linguistic results of language contact within Italo-Venezuelans’ linguistic repertoires. Two secondary objectives are: the elaboration of a Community Profile and the description of language attitudes. This study integrates sociolinguistic and anthropological methods, including the ethnographic sampling method known as Community Profile and the qualitative analysis of natural speech data collected by sociolinguistic interviews of Italo-Venezuelan speakers in Pescara.

The results of this dissertation suggest that Spanish language maintenance in Italy is a multi-layered process influenced by many factors, including the language in which mainstream free education is conducted, economic stability requiring mastery of Italian, political engagement, linguistic accommodation of non-Italian speakers, minority language status in the host country and language attitudes, minority language use in the media, intergenerational continuity, and the existence of venues dedicated to language practice and maintenance. The present study also finds that Italo-Venezuelans’ individual and collective national identities range at varying degrees across a continuum extending from Italian to Venezuelan and is significantly influenced by the length of their stay in Italy. In order to signal their perceived identity to their interlocutors, speakers use deictic elements and expressions indicating associative meaning in their speech to which they attach positive or negative connotations. Regarding language contact, the speech of Italo-Venezuelans can be described as a contact variety, which is also an interlanguage, characterized by transfer phenomena on all linguistic levels. The transfer phenomena are mainly from Spanish into Italian but, in some instances, also from Abruzzese into Italian and Spanish, and from Italian into Spanish. The community profile is used as a sampling technique, but its results are also used to determine the community’s social characteristics in order to better analyze Italo-Venezuelans’ patterns of language use. Negative language attitudes towards Latin American Spanish appear to decrease the likelihood of Spanish language use and to negatively affect the overall improvement of Spanish language proficiency.