Quantitative Approaches to Italian / Dialect Family Interactions: Considerations of Methodology and Language Transmission in a Contact Situation

In: Journal of Language Contact
Anna Ghimenton Université de Paris 3 - Sorbonne Nouvelle, Institut de Linguistique et de Phonétique Générales et Appliquées (ILPGA) - E.A. 1483,

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We present a case study of a child’s language development by analyzing production in both input and output. Our corpus comprises 35-hour tapings (90 000 tokens) of dyadic and multiparty interactions between Francesco, his parents and his extended family members who are from Veneto (Italy), while Francesco was 17-30 months old. In this region, two genetically related languages – Veneto dialect and Italian are spoken along a continuum and there are numerous zones of overlapping, blurring the borders of the languages in contact. We draw from a psycholinguistic approach to study the child’s development and from a sociolinguistic approach to include the observed contact phenomena in our research design. The aim of this study is two-fold. Firstly, we aim to understand how Francesco acquires his language(s) from a variable environment. Secondly, we aim to present a new methodological approach to quantitative studies conducted in contact situations. We discuss how the interplay of similarities (given the presence of cognates) and contrasts (the juxtaposition of Italian and Veneto in utterances) in the input may contribute to the maintenance of multilingualism in the younger generations’ repertoires.

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