The Varieties of Italian

le_varieta_ditaliano‏As with other languages, Italian exhibits a number of varieties. These varieties are not distinct but rather overlap. In fact, linguists concur that the varieties they lie on a continuum that varies along diaptopic (geographic), diastratic (social), diamesic (written and spoken), and diaphasic (register) lines. It is important to note that the social norm in Italy is regional Italian, which represents a geographically differentiated Neo-standard Italian. The following list comprises the nine varieties of Italian as presented according to Berruto’s (1987) notion of the architecture of the Italian language.

1. italiano standard letterario (Literary Standard Italian)

A literary language adapted by Italy’s authors from an elite 14th-century Florentine dialect.

2. a. italiano neo-standard (Neo-standard Italian)

The merger of the literary standard with the current spoken form of the language.

2. b. italiano regionale colto medio (Average Cultured Regional Italian)

Neo-standard Italian with geographic differentiation owing to contact with dialect.

3. italiano parlato colloquiale (Colloquial Spoken Italian)

A familiar, informal Italian used in everyday conversation.

4. italiano regionale popolare (Popular Regional Italian)

The imperfectly acquired Italian spoken by those whose mother tongue is dialect.

5. italiano informale trascurato (Neglected Informal Italian)

A spoken, careless Italian used in very informal situations.

6. italiano gergale (Jargonistic Italian)

The specialized Italian terms associated with a particular subject or profession.

7. italiano formale aulico (Formal Courtly Italian)

A solemn, ceremonious Italian used for the most formal events.

8. italiano tecnico-scientifico (Technical and Scientific Italian)

A formal, homologized Italian used in scientific and technical circles.

9. italiano burocratico (Bureaucratic Italian)

An exaggerated, impersonal form of the literary standard used mainly in bureaucratic writing.


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