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European Francophonie

The Social, Political and Cultural History of an International Prestige Language


Edited By Vladislav Rjéoutski, Gesine Argent and Derek Offord

This volume examines the use of French in European language communities outside France from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. The phenomenon of French language usage is explored in a wide variety of communities, namely Bohemian, Dutch, medieval English, German (Prussian), Italian, Piedmontese, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. Each chapter offers unique insight into the existence of francophonie in a given language community by providing illustrations of language usage and detailed descriptions of various aspects of it. The volume as a whole explores such sociolinguistic matters as bilingualism and multilingualism, the use of French as a lingua franca and prestige language, language choice and code-switching, variations in language usage depending on class or gender, language attitudes and language education. The sociohistorical and sociocultural matters considered include the association of a variety of language with the court, nobility or some other social group; the function of French as a vehicle for the transmission of foreign cultures; and the role of language in the formation of identity of various kinds (national, social and personal).
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5. The Two Latin Sisters: Representations of the French and the French Language in Italy

← 112 | 113 → NADIA MINERVA


In the long history of cultural relations between France and Italy, particular attention should be paid to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These centuries witnessed first the unfurling of ‘Gallomania’ – when the consecration of French as the language of cultivated Europe completed a rise begun in Italy in the mid-seventeenth century – and then the decline of the infatuation with France and its language, which coincided with the development of movements of national resistance across Europe as a whole at the time of the Napoleonic invasions in the early nineteenth century. The spread of French in Italy was late by comparison with its spread in northern European countries such as England, where French enjoyed privileged status, and the Netherlands, to which Protestants had fled at the time of their first flight from France, which began in the 1560s. A whole century separated the first grammar designed for Italian-speakers, which was published in Rome in 1625,1 and Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse [The Explanation of the French Language] which the Englishman John Palsgrave brought out in 1530. The first Italian works intended for teaching and learning French were aimed at private secretaries, translators, travellers and tradespeople. A language of ‘convenience’ which was of interest only to professional people, French would not become the language of culture until around 1670, when it made its appearance in Jesuit colleges. From that moment French would make an essential contribution to the education of the ruling class, hence the need to put in place...

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