The Power of National Identity at the Grapho-Phonological Level: A Case in Italian

Author Information

Stefano Presutti,
Rome Study Center, University of California, Italy

DOI: 10.47298/comela22.6-4
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in the Mediterranean and Europe 2022

Abstract

The Western European nationalism in the modern era, which developed the ideal of nation-state, was based on two key concepts; language standardization and monolingualism. However, today the relationship between language and national identity is overly rigid and anachronistic, and would do well to become modified in order to be more suitable for contemporary transnational fluidity.

With respect to previous research in linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics, this study originally focuses attention on the interrelations between written and spoken language, specifically at a grapho-phonological level. This paper investigates distinct elements of a specific language; the phoneme of the palatal lateral approximant and its related graphemes in standard Italian. I examine through historical-linguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives the diachronic, diatopic, and diastratic features that, during the formation, standardization and massification of language processes, led these target elements to cross boundaries; passing the non-symbolic to symbolic threshold, and becoming standard and prestigious identity markers of Italian.

The findings show that today, national languages and identities are not disappearing, but with the formation of global identity and language, new and more flexible boundaries are being created, more appropriate to faster and more layered inter- and intra-linguistic communication.


Keywords: Language ideologies, Italian phonology, identity marker, linguistic boundaries, transnational fluidity


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