Naomi Nagy

Linguistics at U of T

LSA 1996 Abstract for Naomi Nagy
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Contact-induced language change
in the Francoprovencal dialect of Faetar

Naomi Nagy

Faetar, a dialect of Francoprovencal, has been spoken for 700 years in Faeto (FG), in central Italy, since an emigration from southeastern France, where the dialect has now been nearly extinguished by linguistic standardization. Virtually all of the 600 villagers speak Faetar, as well as Italian, and the language enjoys a high degree of prestige because it marks its speakers as distinct from other southern Italians.

In 1992-1994, I was a participant-observer and fieldworker in Faeto. My fieldwork had 3 aims: to collect materials to provide a detailed and accurate description of the language, including variable patterns that may indicate changes in progress; to collect a large corpus of recordings and transcriptions which may be useful to other scholars and the villagers; and to gather particular data to analyze theoretical claims about the nature of change due to language contact.

Data showing (1) the existence of phonological but not morphological geminates due to Italian influence, (2) the process of variable deletion of final segments due to regional dialect influence, (3) the regional dialect influence on the lexicon, and (4) the lack of Italian syntactic effects have been quantitatively examined (Nagy 1993, 1994, Nagy & Reynolds 1994). Using these data, I test frameworks which have been posited concerning the relationship between sources and effects of contact-induced changes, particularly claims that certain types of linguistic elements are more easily borrowed than others and that the kinds of transmission which may occur depend on social factors (Thomason & Kaufman 1988, Van Coetsem 1988, Guy 1990). My findings, largely in keeping with the proposed borrowability hierarchies, also support the theory of hyperforeignization (Janda, Joseph & Jacobs 1994) in explaining how changes may be transmitted from one generation to another. Furthermore, my research helps to counter the dearth of field reports containing both sufficient detail on variation in the language and the pertinent social characteristics of the speakers.



Guy, G. (1990) The sociolinguistic types of language change. Diachronica VII:1.47-67.

Janda, R. B. Joseph, & N. Jacobs. (1994) Systematic Hyperforeignisms as Maximally External Evidence for Linguistic Rules. In The Reality of Linguistic Rules, S. Lima, R. Corrigan, & G. Iverson, eds. Benjamins, pp. 67-92.

Kattenbusch, D. 1982. Das Frankoprovenzditalien. Studien zur synchronischen und diachronischen Dialbingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.

Melillo, M. (1956-7) Il tesoro lessicale franco-provenzale odierno di Faeto e Celle in provincia di Foggia in L'Italia dialettale, XXI pp. 49-128.

Minichelli, V. 1994. Dizionario francoprovenzale Celle di San Vito e Faeto. Alessandria: Edizione dell'Orso.

Nagy, N. (1993). Lexical change and language contact. Penn Review of Linguistics 17: 117-132.

---(1994) Language Contact and Change: Italian (?) Geminates in Faetar. Belgian Journal of Linguistics 9.

---& B. Reynolds. (1994) Accounting for variable word-final deletion within optimality theory. NWAVE 23.

Thomason, S. and T. Kaufman. 1988. Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics. University of California Press.

Van Coetsem, F. 1988. Loan Phonology and the Two Transfer Types in Language Contact. Dordrecht: Foris.

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