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Lingua/Lenga'/Language: "The Language Question" in the Life and Work of an Italian American Woman

Lingua/Lenga'/Language: "The Language Question" in the Life and Work of an Italian American Woman Lingua/Lenga'/Language "The Language Question" in the Life and Work of an Italian American Woman nancy c. carnevale Italian has been called "la lingua di Dante." But in the Italian immigrant community where I came of age, no one said lingua; it was lenga' or leng', and there was little mention of Dante. Italian to me was the shrill call of mothers to errant children who had wandered half a block from home; the language of lewd stories grown-ups told while gathered around the kitchen table late at night when children were supposed to be upstairs, asleep in their beds. It was the sound of accusations, many only half understood, that mothers and fathers hurled at each other, or that women made behind the backs of their enemies (often their mothers-in-law or daughters-in-law). It was the stories told about trying to make a living on the land in the old country; a number of the stories involved recalcitrant donkeys, as I recall. "Real Italian," as we always referred to the standard, was greatly appreciated, even revered. There was, however, a good deal of ambivalence about it as well. My cousin tells the story of a family gathering years ago http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies University of Nebraska Press

Lingua/Lenga'/Language: "The Language Question" in the Life and Work of an Italian American Woman

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by Frontiers Editorial Collective.
ISSN
1536-0334
Publisher site
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Abstract

Lingua/Lenga'/Language "The Language Question" in the Life and Work of an Italian American Woman nancy c. carnevale Italian has been called "la lingua di Dante." But in the Italian immigrant community where I came of age, no one said lingua; it was lenga' or leng', and there was little mention of Dante. Italian to me was the shrill call of mothers to errant children who had wandered half a block from home; the language of lewd stories grown-ups told while gathered around the kitchen table late at night when children were supposed to be upstairs, asleep in their beds. It was the sound of accusations, many only half understood, that mothers and fathers hurled at each other, or that women made behind the backs of their enemies (often their mothers-in-law or daughters-in-law). It was the stories told about trying to make a living on the land in the old country; a number of the stories involved recalcitrant donkeys, as I recall. "Real Italian," as we always referred to the standard, was greatly appreciated, even revered. There was, however, a good deal of ambivalence about it as well. My cousin tells the story of a family gathering years ago

Journal

Frontiers: A Journal of Women StudiesUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Jan 17, 2006

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