Germanic peoples appear strongly on the stage of history during late antiquity. With the advent of so-called “Barbarian Invasions” (or “folk migrations”, if the perspective is that of the invaders), raids by Germanic tribes gradually turn into migrations of ethnic groups settling in the areas they strike. With the fall of the Empire and the creation of Barbarian Kingdoms, this phenomenon leads to lasting effects on local languacultures. In the Italian peninsula, Goths, Langobards, and Franks, impacted the evolution of vulgar Latin, leaving visible traces in the Italian language.
The Germanic element of Italian vocabulary is represented by a multitude of toponyms and anthroponyms; it characterises specific lexical areas, and is observable in basic vocabulary and derivational morphology. These elements (systematically collected within the LEI project) are an extremely interesting object of study, on several levels.
In a diachronic perspective: analysing their presence at different stages, and as an instrument for dating.
In a diatopic perspective: as a criterion of dialectological analysis, also frequently linked to geosynonyms and so-called “parole bandiera”. (Besides also being a differentiating criterion between romance languages).
In a sociolinguistic and stylistic perspective: considering the value of a Latin or a Germanic equivalent, in context.
It is moreover ultimately relevant to consider an approach involving Germanic elements in Italian as an effective pedagogical tool. They can prove extremely useful, not only in educating about the history of the languaculture of the Italian peninsula, but also in teaching basic language-competence, and in the expansion of vocabulary, exploiting intercomprehension in learners with a Germanic mother tongue in general, and a Scandinavian one in particular (and vice versa).
Copyright (c) 2019 Giovanni Fort
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