Living MemoryThe Social Aesthetics of Language in a Northern Italian Town
Wiley Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture 1. Aufl.
Living Memory investigates the complex question of language and its place at the heart of Bergamasco culture in northern Italy. • Integrates extensive participant observation with sociolinguistic data collection • Reveals the political and social dynamics of a national language (Italian) and a local dialect (Bergamasco) struggling for survival • Introduces the original concept of the “social aesthetics of language”: the interweaving of culturally-shaped and emotionally felt dimensions of language-choice • Written to be accessible to students and specialists alike • Part of the Blackwell Studies in Discourse and Culture Series
Series Editor’s Preface vi Preface viii Constructing Transcripts: Orthographic Conventions and Transcription Processes xiii 1. Introduction 1 2. Bergamasco in Use: The Feel of Everyday Speaking 27 3. Gendering Language 64 4. Bergamasco on Stage: Poetry and Theater 83 5. Modern Campanilismo: The Value of Place 120 6. Bergamo, Italy, Europe: Speaking Contextualized 156 7. Conclusion 189 Notes 206 References 216
Jillian R. Cavanaugh is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Brooklyn College CUNY. She has published in a range of journals, including Language and Communication, Ethnos, and the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology.
Living Memory investigates the complex question of language and its place at the heart of Bergamasco culture in northern Italy. As in other multilingual nation-states in Europe and elsewhere, linguistic revival and survival represent the promise of local solidarity, but also a threat to larger social and political relationships and unification. Jillian Cavanaugh offers an in depth look at this mixed or bivalent language use in Italy today. She describes how emotional and complex debates in Bergamo highlight the meaning and use of the Italian language and of Bergamasco, the local vernacular that is valued for its links to a particular local past, and its unique and powerful expression in poetry and plays. Utilizing ethnographic and sociolinguistic data, Cavanaugh brings together the multiple strands of meaning that make up the social aesthetics of language She shows the links between local language dynamics and ideologies and the pressing questions facing global communities today, revealing how an inquiry into the social aesthetics of language are important in understanding the values of tradition and modernity, the local and the national, the past and the present.
"An engaging study of the kinds of tensions and paradoxes that make so many minority language situations such nail biters: will conscious effort to revalorize a flagging vernacular strengthen it or kill it? Does highlighting the language’s cultural heritage revitalize it or turn it into an attractive but irrelevant museum piece? ‘Living Memory’ beautifully documents the complex and delicate situation of a stubborn Italian dialect. In doing so, it helps us understand the role language plays in contemporary debates about identity, belonging, citizenship and rapid social change." –Don Kulick, author of Language Shift and Cultural Reproduction "Living Memory is a very solid piece of academic work on language maintenance, shift, linguistic ideologies and cultural dynamics in an Italian region and town. It makes a significant contribution to linguistic anthropology." –Lukas D Tsitsipis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki "With empathetic eye and ear, Cavanaugh places Bergamo's committed "locophonophiles," lovers of speaking -- as well as eating -- locally, in the relevant contexts of the wider cultural politics of European and Italian regionalism at the turn-of-the-21st-century." –Michael Silverstein, University of Chicago
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