The Maggio dei Libri (May Book) of Avigliano was an occasion to speak the Lucanian dialect
The Maggio dei Libri (May Book) of Avigliano was an occasion to speak the Lucanian dialect and was about the importance of preserving the vernacular. In fact, the initiative organized by the Pro Loco of Lagopesole and Avigliano invited an expert in the field, Professor Patrizia Del Puente, University of Basilicata Linguistics and Linguistics, who in addition to being a highly respected teacher, has the great merit of having conducted the most in-depth study of the linguistic richness of Lucanian dialects with the ALBA (Sunrise) project, namely the linguistic atlas of Basilicata. It's an ongoing project that can be compared with the mythical Titan Atlas for its complexity and depth of research. It's a study that goes beyond the linguistic, but that is a milestone for the development of the Lucanian dialect, indeed dialects, which are the memory of a people and represent the deepest history and culture in which a population is recognized.

Now, a few biographical note on Professor Del Punte: from 1998-2001 she was at the University of Salerno as a member of the Language Faculty at the Department of Romance Philology. In this capacity she taught courses in Romance linguistics and dialectology, which included commentary on linguistic texts Provencal, Italian, French, Castilian and antique Portuguese.

In 2001 she became associate professor in the field Linguistics and General Linguistics and since 2002 has taught General Linguistics at the University of Basilicata. She was on the board and has taught in the master course for the Albanian dialects of southern Italy, arbëreshe. From 2003 to 2009, she was the coordinator of the regional office of the linguistic area arbëreshe. She was the coordinator and teacher in the "Course in teaching Italian as L2". She is vice-director of the Courses for Foreigners held by the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pisa and educational coordinator. Prof. Del Puente's field of study intially concerned the Albanian dialects of southern Italy considered in sociolinguistic and inter-linguistic perspective; she subsequently moved to the dialects of Southern Italy which are studied in the context of contemporary theory (theory of prototypes; morphology "natural" interlingual, etc.).In addition, the academic has written a monograph on the dialects of Campania in collaboration with Prof. F. Fanciullo of the University of Pisa and is currently preparing a monograph on the Albanian dialect of San Marzano di Puglia studying phenomena characteristic of the death of a language. She has conducted numerous field investigations; some of these have identified an area of Gallo-Italic settlements that have been ignored until now.

She created and has coordinated the research project ALBA (Atlante Linguistico della Basilicata, or Linguistic Atlas of Basilicata) since 2007, which led to the publication of the first volume of the Atlas in 2009 and the second volume in 2010, and the third volume is at press. She is conducting studies on the spread of Sicilian vocalism in Campania and Basilicata and has already produced about several papers presented at international conferences and published in international journals of dialectology.

She has published a monograph on the dialect of Grumento Nova and has made various contributions on the Lucanian dialects in the main journals of dialectology. She has other ongoing work on the vocal tone of Basilicata. She also organized three international conferences in the last six years whose proceedings have been published in her name. For two years she has won the national certification to full professor.

The event that took place in Lagopesole has also resulted in an interview with the Salernian academic about the adoption of Lucanian on the ALBA project and the importance of preserving "the vernacular", and also on the characteristics Aviglianese.

Professor Del Puente, how was the idea for project ALBA born?

It was born from the awareness that Lucanian languages had a lot to say and what was known of them was just the tip of the iceberg. The variety and complexity of Lucania's linguistic situation is a gold mine that could not be ignored. Truly an indescribable wealth.

In the course of research in the field, what's new that has emerged with respect to the studies of Gerhard Rohlfs and Lausberg, to name a few scholars who have dealt with Lucanian?

We must first clarify one thing: the tools that we have today to make research in dialect are not even remotely comparable to those which the scholars of the first half of the last century had. We move by car and they moved by mule. Having said this, it must be said that the data of the ALBA revolutionize many of the interpretations that had been made in the past about the Lucanian dialect. But it would be difficult to explain in a few words all the innovations that are emerging. There are so many and so surprising.

The dialect is changing over the course of centuries, is it by chance losing its authenticity?

All languages evolve in their nature and we cannot change this course. But it is different when a language evolves, and when, instead, a language that has been culturally stigmatized, as in the case of dialects, dies of cultural opposition. In fact, the danger is that dialects do not change in a natural evolution, but are abandoned in favor of the "educated" language, i.e. Italian. We have seen, in short, a true opposition against the social and cultural dialects mistakenly considered as uneducated language, the language of the ignorant. The dialect is in effect a language, but on the other hand we must not forget that Italian is nothing more than the evolution of a dialect, that of Florence. Today, fortunately, we are witnessing a rediscovery of the local languages and an appreciation of their value.

In recent years, there is a lot of attention to the vernacular thanks to the web, is that it?

Thanks to the web, but even before that, thanks to UNESCO which has promoted a campaign of prevention, protection and attention to the languages of the world. Three languages die every day. UNESCO has highlighted the fact that languages are an asset of humanity because they harvest the story of an entire people, the culture, history and identity of an entire people and are a beneficial intangible cultural heritage.

Can we discuss what's special about the Aviglianese dialect?

The dialect of Avigliano is a very special case because unlike the Gallo-Italic dialects, it completely shows a strong coexistence between Gallo-Italic and southern sections that are a meaningful indicator of a peaceful cohabitation between completely different realities: this area saw the presence of northern peoples who, I would say, lived on par with the local residents. So a very special situation.

Avigliano, in fact the area of the Aviglianese dialect in particular, has the presence of all the different cultures and rulers throughout history, from Osco-Lucanians to the Romans, Byzantines, Lombards, Normans, etc. etc. For example, the word "mustazz" (baffi in Italian) derived from the Norman moustacche. Also in the area of the "Aviglianesi nation" there is the presence of an Osco-Lucanian city called "la città del Duca" (the City of the Duke) near Mount Torretta. Is there still some trace in Aviglianese of the Oscan and Lombard languages?

We surely find, in Aviglianese, words with Oscan elements that we do not know whether they come directly of Oscan origin, such as "attruf" (October), or derived from the Latin that had been in this area, with Oscan influence.

Have there been some differences found between the various "Avigliano dialects", namely that of the city of Avigliano and Filiano, and those spoken where the language spread, like Potenza, Ruoti, Bella, Pietragalla, Forenza, Atella, Rionero in Vulture, San Fele etc., or even in rural areas rather than those of most populated centers that differ in economics and productivity?

The dialect of Avigliano is the dialect of Avigliano and its spread is due to the diaspora of the Aviglianese people who never give up their traditions and their language, but to speak of the Aviglianese language in Potenza or Rionero as if it were original in these places does not seem right to me. Some differences in dialect were also observed between the same Aviglianesi quarters for which there is a greater conservatism in the suburbs and greater innovation in the most central areas.

by Leonardo Pisani
Cathy Farrell
categoria: ARTE E CULTURA