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PhD Research School in Linguistics and Philology

Bodil Moss

Adolescent speech in Sicily: Dialect use and attitudes among adolescents in Catania

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Sicilian dialects generally suffer from low prestige in Italy, particularly in the north, which can be related to great socioeconomic differences between the north and south of Italy. Even Sicilians themselves tend to have a negative attitude towards their own dialect. Today mere traces of a local dialect are a symbol of authenticity, even for a Sicilian speaker.

This project aims to see whether prejudice against the dialect is reflected in the speech of adolescents from Catania and in their attitude towards their own dialect. Does a generally increasing status for the dialects affect their use of dialect also in Sicily?
Do the Sicilian speakers still stigmatize their own dialect, and, if so, to what extent? Is there a possibility that they see it through the eyes of an Italian from the mainland and internalize the stereotypes established through history?

By using the sociolinguistic method called the 'Matched-Guise technique' I will try to discover unconscious attitudes towards own dialect. I will also record sufficient adolescent speech to make a speech corpus to see how and whether their code-switching between Italian and Sicilian can give any indications of an increased status for the dialect.