Researchers to examine "at risk" languages spoken in Italy

24 Mar 2010

A team of researchers at the University's School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures have been awarded £535,927 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to document a unique family of Romance languages spoken in Italy.

Led by Dr Delia Bentley from the School's Institute for Linguistics and Language Studies, the three-year investigation will start in September 2010.

"Because they are in the main not officially recognised, the Italo-Romance dialects are not being spoken by many young people in Italy - which could eventually threaten their existence," said Dr Bentley.

"And that would be a shame."

She added: "The objectives of the project are to create a map of the different ways of putting together the sentence "there is x" in the languages.

“This phrase is important because it’s a fundamental sentence type in any language.

"We also want shed new light on the relationship between the meaning and the grammar of this sentence.

"We hope the project will also have an impact outside the academic research community, in that it will produce materials which will be used for educational and other cultural purposes both in the UK and in Italy."

Dr Bentley and two postdoctoral research associates will conduct extensive fieldwork in Italy, working in close association with an international pool of experts, including top dialectologists at eleven Italian academic institutions.

Notes for editors

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