Silenzio in sala : parla il cinema italiano! new linguistic tendencies and the language of contemporary comedy
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This dissertation investigates the language used in contemporary Italian cinema, with particular focus on popular comedy through the analysis of ten films released in a 30-year span period, from 1980 to 2010. My work argues that comedy dialogues may serve linguistic descriptive purposes since they use the complete spectrum of contemporary trends. The project analyzes how cinema uses common language and how film dialogues record linguistic changes in Italian, proving to be a useful and powerful medium for describing contemporary language. A subsequent question that my work addresses is how comedy’s film dialogues represent a changing society. A detailed analysis of the four linguistic levels: phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon is conducted in the dialogues of the films selected. Through the observation of the occurrences of the new linguistic tendencies I establish which variables trigger their use, what are the differences among the characters’ speeches, and whether and how the language used differs from standard language. Also, the comparison with contemporary Italian reveals the degree of sociolinguistic reliability of the dialogue of popular comedy. A further type of comparison is the one between the written screenplays and the final version of the films, which reveals some of the linguistic dynamics behind the trajectory from a written to a spoken version of the text. The data I collected show an overall reliable reproduction by most films of the new linguistic trends, and a reliable representation of the sociolinguistic complexity of contemporary Italian. This attempt to imitate reality shows, in my opinion, the scarce inclination to linguistic experimentalism of Italian comedy. On the other hand, what film dialogues fail to reflect in a realistic way are the traits intrinsically related to oral discourse such as interruptions, reformulations, and drawbacks. What my work ultimately highlights is the value of the close analysis of film dialogues as an interdisciplinary method that can contribute to linguistic accounts as well as to explain specific choices in language related to the cinematic genre.