Italian in Bozen/Bolzano: the formation of a “new dialect”
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The use of Italian in Bozen/Bolzano could be considered as an exceptional case in the Italian sociolinguistic landscape. The development of a variety of Italian results from an abrupt change in the sociolinguistic context when after the First World War the former Austrian South Tyrol became a part of Italy. The resulting re-settlement of people coming from different parts of Italy and thus speaking different varieties of Italian or Italo-Romance dialects brought about the formation of a new variety of Italian. The aim of the paper is to provide empirical evidence to support the idea that Bolzano Italian is a case of new town koine. Historical and demographic data are presented to reconstruct the sociolinguistic history of Bolzano. In particular, data are examined in light of the koineization principles (Kerswill 2002) to demonstrate that Bolzano Italian is the result of a composite contact process. To investigate the linguistic consequences of contact some recent sociophonetic evidence on endogenous and exogenous contact are quantitatively analyzed.