Punti critici nella grammatica italiana: il contributo della ricostruzione diacronica

Laura Vanelli (Dipartimento di Studi Linguistici e Letterari, Università degli Studi di Padova)


In this paper some crucial points of modern Italian grammar are dealt with. The phenomena discussed are problematic areas for description and usage: 1) in morphology, the system of the definite singular masculine article; 2) in syntax, the system of personal pronouns: a) the alternation between the series of egli, ella, essi etc. and the series of lui, lei and loro used as subject; b) the alternation between loro and gli as plural dative; 3) the analysis of an expression indicating the distance in time in the past, which consists of a temporal noun phrase and fa (e.g. due mesi fa “two months ago”); the last issue is on the border between syntax and vocabulary. In the paper first we offer a synchronic description of these phenomena and we show that all the situations considered are structurally “marginal” with respect to the whole grammatical system of Italian. Then we will try to find the reasons for their apparent anomaly through a diachronic reconstruction: this will show us that Italian grammar possesses elements and constructions which still keep track of previous phases in language change. These phases have been partly overcome by language change, even though not completely. The tenacity of such “diachronic remains” has been particularly intense in Italian, because for centuries it was spoken only in high cultural and literary contexts: thus the normative aspects, which are intrinsically conservative and tend to preserve archaic linguistic models, have been stronger than linguistic change and innovation for a long time.

DOI: 10.4424/lam32014-2


Italian language; Italian grammarm Morphology; Definite singular masculine article; Syntax; Personal pronouns; Time distance; Synchronic description; Diachronic evolution.

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