The Formation of Regional Italian as a Consequence of Language Contact.The Salentino Case
This article examines the mechanisms involved in the formation of regional Italian from the perspective of contact linguistics. Varieties of regional Italian containing elements of both local dialects and Standard Italian (SI) are spoken throughout Italy; this paper focuses primarily on Salento, a southern region characterized by a strong bilingual environment. The aim is to investigate the interaction between a dialect and a standard language, as well as the concrete linguistic mechanisms involved. The historical background of the acquisition of SI and its diffusion throughout the national territory are considered crucial moments in language transmission. Sociolinguistic characteristics of speakers are also analyzed, as are three types of constructions: change of verb transitivity, use of polyvalent complementizer, and gerunds. The analysis confirms that the spoken variety of Italian, regional Italian, is a result of contact-induced change of SI influenced by the local dialect, Salentino.