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The Dialect Poetry of Nino Martoglio

Sociolinguistic Issues in a Literary Context


Antonio Scuderi

The Sicilian dialect poet, Nino Martoglio (1870-1921), was also a playwright-director who is best known for his instrumental role in Luigi Pirandello's theatrical career, and for his film, Sperduti nel buio (1914), a masterpiece of Italian Naturalism. Pirandello regarded Martoglio's sizable corpus of dialect poetry as comparable to the works of Salvatore Di Giacomo and Trilussa. This study explores Martoglio's keen insight into the complex relationship between standard language and dialect in post-unification Catania, and how this linguistic situation is instantiated in his poetry. Diglossia, code interaction, hybrid code, and register clash are some of the devices which the Aetnean poet uses to convey the ethos of the Catanese folk in his dialect verses.
Contents: This study explores the Sicilian dialect poetry of Nino Martoglio (1870-1921) from a sociolinguistic perspective. By focusing particular attention on several poems, Martoglio's insight into such issues as diglossia, code interaction, hybrid code, and register clash in post-unification Catania is demonstrated and examined.