Language Politics and Attitudes of the Genovese Variety

Lecture | October 10 | 12:10-1 p.m. | B-4 Dwinelle Hall

 Gabriella Licata, PhD Candidate, Romance Languages and Literatures, Berkeley

 Berkeley Language Center

The current ideologies and politics of Genoese, a dialect of Ligurian in the Northwestern Italian region of Liguria, reflect the status of many of Italy’s “dialects”—lingering in unofficial status with little institutional support but vibrant ties to and representation in regional identity. The study of language attitudes is vital to understanding what dynamics are in place for language restoration and revitalization. Genoese has approximately 400,000 speakers in Liguria and continues to lower with the passing of older generations. My recent matched guise experiment (cf. Lambert et al. 1967) with 60 Ligurian participants demonstrates that while Genoese receives high ratings on par with Italian on a number of social characteristics (i.e. solidarity, linguistic capabilities), these covert prestige marks are generally reserved for male speakers and not female ones. This holds with Labov’s gender paradox (2001:261–293) that women are expected to adhere to the standard variety (Italian) over the nonstandard variety (Genoese), as opposed to male speakers who may identify strongly with both. Gendered linguistic stigmatization and hence a lack of intergenerational transmission by women are some explanations as to what is occurring with regional languages all over Italy, which ultimately poses problems for the regional varieties’ future usage and transmission.

 elyseanneritchey@berkeley.edu, vrodic@berkeley.edu