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Italians in the Americas
Experiences in South and North Americas

Building an Identity on Paper: The Negotiation of Italianitá in the Early North American Ethnic Press

Une identité sur papier: la renégociation de l’«italianità» au début de la presse ethnique nord-américaine
Franco Pierno
p. 91-99

Résumés

Cet article présente une analyse de la langue d’un des nombreux journaux italiens publiés aux Etats Unis entre la fin du 19e et le début du XXe siècle, à savoir la Gazzetta del Massachusetts. Il s’agit ici de montrer de quelle façon le journalisme issu des milieux de l’émigration italienne en Amérique cherche à reconstruire et/ou à renégocier une nouvelle « italianità », en employant de manière différente la langue telle qu’elle était employée dans la presse italienne contemporaine.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 See Patrizia Audenino and Maddalena Tirabassi, Migrazioni italiane. Storia e storie dall’Ancien rég (...)
  • 2 See Pietro Russo, «La stampa periodica italo-americana», in Gli italiani negli Stati Uniti. L’emigr (...)
  • 3 See N. W. Ayer, American Newspaper Annual. Philadelphia: Ayer and Son: 1884 et seq.; Lubomyr R. Wyn (...)

1During the first major transoceanic emigration, which took place between the last decades of the nineteenth century and the First World War, millions of emigrants disembarked in the New World and formed their own real communities.1 Within these settlements there often arose the need for a newspaper, a link to the country left behind and a means of social cohesion for the expatriates. This press which can also be defined as «ethnic» (in accordance with the language in vogue in the 1960s in North American academic circles) began to spread in a pervasive, immediate, and constant manner. The phenomenon of the Italian ethnic press did not concern only large urban centres (e.g., New York, Boston, and San Francisco): rather, almost every community of emigrants, even in cities of a moderate or small size, could boast the publication of its own newspaper.2 The sales estimates obtained from some repertories3 suggest that this kind of press enjoyed a real circulation, sold by paperboys on street corners and read in bars and neighbourhood meeting places.

An Example of Ethnic Press: The Gazzetta del Massachusetts

2In a recent historical essay on Boston’s «Little Italy», Stephen Puleo writes regarding the Gazzetta del Massachusetts (GM):

  • 4 Stephen Puleo, The Boston Italians. A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of (...)

La Gazzetta had become an important voice in the Boston Italian community [between 1903 and 1906]. Their illiteracy rates notwithstanding, enough Italians could read their own language to share news with friends and relatives. On street corners and in grocery stores, in taverns and private clubs, groups of Italians gathered around one reader to hear, and then discuss, the weekly news.4

  • 5 See Bénédicte Deschamps and Stefano Luconi, «The Publisher of the Foreign-Language Press as an Ethn (...)
  • 6 For the social configuration of Boston’s Italian emigration at the beginning of the twentieth centu (...)
  • 7 Ayer’s Directory provides data concerning the GM for the first time in the 1905 volume (part one, p (...)

3The GM, a weekly publication founded in Boston in 1903 by James Donnaruma, a barber from the Italian province of Salerno who became a businessman in the United States5, was one of the most widely-circulated and read newspapers in the panorama of the first Italian ethnic press (also through communal reading, as Puleo infers in the text cited above). The community to which the GM gave expression was composed mostly of Italians from the South, prevalently Campanians, whose urban and social activities revolved around Boston’s North End neighbourhood (and the neighbourhood’s parish).6 As declared on several occasions by its contributors as well as by its editor, the GM did not take any particular political stance: it criticized some ecclesiastical attitudes, but was not anti-clerical; it did not spare criticism of the American political-social system, but was ready to underline with precision the misdeeds, sometimes delinquent and tragic, of the Italian community. The GM therefore seemed to want to provide a good example of political and religious impartiality, which was probably necessary if it was to reach the widest local audience possible. The initial sale percentages appear strongly encouraging.7 Given its representative value, it can offer a glimpse of the kind of italianità to which the emigrants aspired. The newspaper, in fact, not only put itself at the service of the community, but also carried out a decisive role in the creation of a sense of community identity.

  • 8 Citations of the GM provide: month/day/year. All translations are the author’s.

4First of all, the very existence of the newspaper represented the certainty, at least in the eyes of the contributors, that it would assist in identity building and promote the literary and linguistic values of the homeland:8

  • 9 The word colonia («colony») as well the adjective colonial («colonial») was widely used to indicate (...)
  • 10 «Noi abbiamo la buona intenzione di pubblicare un periodico coloniale che sia degno della patria e (...)
  • 11 «Volevamo dimostrare che anche qui, lontani dalla patria, vi erano elementi sufficienti per poter p (...)
  • 12 «E questo fu il nostro programma, un programma non di cose di superuomini, ma di piccoli uomini, di (...)
  • 13 «A chi serenamente osservi la vita delle nostre colonie negli Stati Uniti, apparrà quanto grande si (...)
  • 14 «L’eco della nostra voce sarà udita in ogni occasione, quando l’elevazione della nostra gente e l’o (...)

«We have the good intention of publishing a colonial9 periodical that is worthy of the homeland and of journalism: to be worthy of the homeland it will need to be first and foremost written in Italian» (Aug/1/1903);10
«We wanted to demonstrate that even here, far from the homeland, there were sufficient resources to publish a truly Italian newspaper that would not be unworthy of our glorious homeland and of its very glorious literature» (Jan/3/1904);
11
«And this was our program, not a program of things for supermen, but for little men, of modest things in a very modest form, illuminated a bit by the light of grammar, but clean, washed and rewashed in the laundry of education and of the language of our homeland» (Aug/32/1904);
12
«To those who serenely observe the life of our colonies in the United States, it will be clear how large a contribution in terms of education and elevation the weekly press has made to them [the colonies]» (Oct/43/1905);
13
«The echo of our voice will be heard on every occasion, when the elevation of our people and the honor of the name of Italy requires it» (Nov/46/1905).
14

  • 15 It was, in fact, as Riccardo Tesi writes, a community that, «nella sua dimensione diacronica», had (...)

5The construction of italianità had its pars destruens in the criticism of the immoral behaviour of certain countrymen, but took place above all through the claim to the glories of the Italian linguistic and literary heritage. Being a verbal, written operation, the use of the language and its representations became the central elements on which to found the reconstruction of the status of the emigrant community, an Italy on the other side of the ocean. The Italian language, existing in fact almost solely in its literary form, represented the only denominator that could hold together a geographically and socially variegated colonial reality. The recognition of a written code, legitimized by the greatness acquired in the past, was, moreover, the dynamic element that had always made possible the cohesiveness of the Italian linguistic collectivity.15

6In the GM, the tutelary deity of this coming together was Dante, who rose to the status of paradigm not only in virtue of his literary preeminence, but also because of his image as an expatriate in perennial exile. Nevertheless, the temporally closest - indeed, contemporary - model was that of D’Annunzio. The writer from Pescara was frequently cited in the pages of GM, not only as a «collaborator» (and on the truthfulness of this less than extemporaneous collaboration one can have legitimate doubts), but also and above all as a recurrent subject in announcements of local lectures and in short literary articles.

  • 16 The lines close «Canto augurale per la Nazione eletta», first published in 1899 and then used again (...)
  • 17 Giovanni Pascoli published the short poem «Italy» in 1904 in the third edition of the Primi poemett (...)

7After all, at the beginning of the twentieth century, closing the collection Elettra, D’Annunzio had cried out «Italia! Italia! / sacra alla nuova Aurora»,16 exalting the image of a nation destined to be the «dominio del mondo»: for far-away emigrants, this invitation to recognize Italian superiority was certainly more encouraging than was the vision of an «Italia raminga» emerging from Pascoli’s Italian world, a sad and resigned countermelody to D’Annunzio’s exaltation.17

  • 18 Giovanni Pascoli, Una sagra, in Giovanni Pascoli (ed.), Pensieri e discorsi, 1895‑1906. Bologna: Za (...)

8If for Pascoli the population of emigrants had been deprived of their language («il vero fuoco di Vesta»18) and therefore needed to get by using something between dialect and barbarized language, losing its own identity in the process, the splendours of the national language and its intrinsic capacity to be the proponent of italianità were reclaimed with enthusiasm in the pages of the GM, as in these short news items:

  • 19 «Scuola italiana. Nel programma che il sig. Filamondi largamente diffuse fra la Colonia espone le r (...)
  • 20 «E la Scena illustrata [rivista pubblicata a Firenze e di cui si incoraggia l’abbonamento] recluta (...)
  • 21 «Comizi, miting e mitingai. D’una terra son tutti, un linguaggio parlan tutti, eppure si azzannano, (...)

«Italian school. The program that Mr. Filamondi [founder of an Italian night school in Boston] widely distributed in the Colony explains the reasons for which Italians should study their own language. We are sorry, however, that among these other reasons the most relevant one is not touched upon, that is, that of the moral and patriotic obligation to not forget and neglect the only bond that keeps us strongly tied to our glorious Homeland» (Jul/28/1904).19
«And the
Scena illustrata [a magazine published in Florence, the subscription to which was being encouraged] recruits in its ranks the most perfect element of art, the most famous pens of literature and poetry. Italians of America!... do not allow your children to forget the sweet sound of the in order to learn a foreign language. Cultivate the necessity of the study of the language of this country in parallel with the practice of our glorious language» (Jun/26/1905).20
«
Meetings, miting and mitingai [Regarding the political disputes that were tearing apart the community]. All are from one land, all speak one language, yet still these new Atrideses snap at each other, maul each other» (Mar/13/1904).21

9As was stated above, the tutelary deity of these linguistic glories remained, obviously, Dante. The poet, who was recognized as the father of the «italica poesia» (Apr/13/1905), was considered to be at the very origin of Italian culture and patriotic pride.

An Ideal Language

  • 22 Andrea Masini, «La lingua dei giornali dell’Ottocento», in Luca Serianni and PietroTrifone (eds.), (...)
  • 23 Some examples: «colti in flagrante» («caught red-handed», Sept/2/1903); «La polizia strenuamente si (...)
  • 24 Chiefly of a political nature: patriottardo («patriotish», Jun/23/1904); according to Paolo Zolli a (...)
  • 25 For example: mattoide (Mar/11/1904), see DELIN, s.v.
  • 26 For example: sciampagna («champagne», Aug/6/1903); vaudeville (Aug/6/1903); entrefilet (May/18/1904 (...)
  • 27 For example: impiegomania (Aug/1/1903); pulcinellesca (May/20/1904); camorristiche (May/22/1904); a (...)
  • 28 Examples: miserabilissimo (Apr/14/1904); anticipatissimamente (Apr/14/1904); perfettissima (Jan/2/1 (...)

10Moreover, the journalists from the GM are quite faithful to a literary prose contrary to Italy’s contemporary journalistic idiom, which is increasingly characterized by a fragmented and speedy syntax, a regional lexicon on one hand and a rather modern one on the other.22 The Italian-American journalists appear to rely on relatively recent-past linguistic models taken from their homeland, and which have been discarded since, rather than on contemporary ones: the continuum in their own ethnic identity is secured via linguistic means around an idealized Italy, the one from which the diaspora immigrants, in the years immediately after Italy’s unification, sailed for the New World. The lexical behavior, still quite faithful to the models found on the papers of the end of the 19th century, begin gradually to adapt, though rather cautiously23: journalistic clichés are still very few24; a technical/sectorial recent terminology emerges25; words coined within a clinician field and subsequently used to semantically strengthen certain news items; foreign lexicon (chiefly French and English) circulating on coeval Italian newspapers26; some neo-forms based on a well-structured use of suffixes27 and an exuberant use of superlatives28, given as almost-necessary elements to a brilliant linguistic code.

  • 29 More instances could be given, for example: aure (May/18/1904/1); procella (Jul/27/1904); altrici ( (...)
  • 30 See Ilaria Bonomi, «La lingua dei quotidiani milanesi di inizio secolo», in Ilaria Bonomi, L’italia (...)
  • 31 For example sloggiare (Oct/42/1904); fare spallucce (Oct/42/ 1904); gruzzoletto (Oct/42/1904); a Ne (...)

11A not very frequent, and rather decorative, use of a literary and bookish terminology can be easily noted: concerning nouns and adjectives, the chronicles already exemplified provide an overall fair selection.29 Within the same register one notices a considerable use of adverbs such as guari (Jan/3/1905), di leggieri (Apr/13/1905), colà (Aug/3/1903; Jul/27/1904; Feb/6/1905; May/22/1905; Jun/24/1905), costì (Aug/3/1903; Aug/4/ 1903), costà (May/22/1904; Jan/3/1905), poscia (Jun/23/1904), (d’)uopo (Apr/19/ 1904; Jun/25/1904); the same use and terms recur also in news items. In turn, a careful exclusion or graphically-based-isolation (via cursive writing) of regional or dialect terms was in force while in Italy’s contemporaneous print media the local vocabulary appeared already in geographically related newspapers as well as elsewhere, beyond its own confines, thanks to a sort of interregional exchange, which is a testimony to an increasingly intense lexical interaction nearly forty-years since the unification of the country30. As in the press of the end of the 19th century, there is no lack of colloquial forms, uses in alternation with the erudite words listed above.31

  • 32 A column entitled «Fioretti di San Francesco» (a clear allusion to the forced penitence of the «lea (...)
  • 33 As in the following verses, where the grandmother is talking about the cold weather («nieva»: «It’s (...)
  • 34 In the following verses, Beppe is talking about his job in Cincinnati: «La mi’ Mèrica! Quando entra (...)

12The other aspect of this identity construction through the exaltation of the language is that it showed derision towards compatriots whose command of Italian (above all written Italian) was very low or almost non-existent. The journalists of GM did not hesitate to publish letters or columns of dialogue by uneducated Italian-Americans who expressed themselves in a language strongly influenced by dialect or by English.32 Yet the target does not seem to be dialect, but rather linguistic hybridism. The reconstruction of a new identity could not accept a solution that would involve struggling coping between two linguistic systems, that Babel-like confusion mixing two worlds and at the same time showing the profound distance between them. The poet Giovanni Pascoli, in the already-cited poem «Italy», had described the chasm resulting from the inability of an elderly woman living in the Tuscan countryside and her granddaughter, born in America and on a visit to Italy, to understand each other.33 In the middle were the girl’s parents, Beppe di Taddeo and his wife, Ghita, who spoke a Tuscan dialect bastardized by English.34 Since it represented a denigration of the noble identity, Pascoli’s description of the humble linguistic and social conditions of emigrants could not be accepted.

13In this identity construction the target was, however, linguistic hybridism, not dialect, which was in fact ideally considered a genuine legacy inherited according to regional provenance and used among those from the same area. The dialect could be adopted to enliven articles and columns in Italian: Neapolitan (or, more generally, southern) constructions in some reported dialogues or proverbial expressions in short articles in columns (sometimes in place of the title), always clearly set apart and evidenced in italics, as in the following short examples:

«Nuttata scura» («black night, title of a poem», May/22/1905);
«Scugnizzo» («boy», title of an article, Jul/30/1905);
«U paisi è piccirinnu e nni sapimu» («the town is small and we know» against the fake poets, Jun/25/1904);
«Nu fuje… fuje» («a flight», Sep/37/1904);
«E cu ssalute» («enjoy! », Nov/46/1904);
«E levate a’ sotto!» («get out of down there!», Jan/3/1905);
«’O Scocciatore!» («The pain in the ass», Jan/4/1905);
«Vale chiu’ nu sfiziu ca ciento rucati» («It’s rather a pleasure than 100 dollars», Mar/12/1905);
«Pe dieci pezze se po’ levà ’nu sfizio» («He could easily pay ten bucks to have a fun time», Mar/12/1905;
pezze is an americanism, coming from pieces);
«Ma chi è?» «Egli è
nu uappo capace di disperdere un reggimento… di mosche» («Who’s that?» «He’s a big shot, who is capable of driving away an army... of flies», Apr/17/1904)

  • 35 As Luca Serianni mentions, the «artificial» use of the dialect was already the currency of the Ital (...)

14The artificial use of dialect in journalistic texts, with an expressive function, was certainly not a novelty35, but the GM seemed to foster the idea of a conscious linguistic italianità, adding a folkloristic touch to the writing: a recognized regionalism that was reduced in order to give voice to what was almost a popular pseudo-wisdom or an artificial spontaneity.

  • 36 See Franco Pierno, «La “lingua raminga”. Appunti su italiano e discorso identitario nella prima sta (...)

15The language of the newspaper36, while having literary aspirations, was strongly indebted to American English from a lexical point of view. Some examples:

Loanwords: boarding-house (Apr/20/1904), bill (in the meaning «act», May/22/1904; Jun/24/1904), boss (May/22/1904), business-man (Mar/10/1904), dress shirt (Apr/19/1904), undertaker (Apr/20/1904), stock holder (Jun/24/1904), commissioner (Jun/25/1904), trusters (Jun/25/1904), patrolman (Jul/27/1905), police (Aug/5/1903), scabs (Jul/26/1904), checks (Jun/25/1904), money order (Apr/19/1904), subway (Dec/49/1904), foremen (Oct/43/1904), pier (Feb/8/1905);
Adapted loanwords:
bossi/bosse (from boss, Sep/36/1904; and also diritto di bossatura, May/22/1904; Jun/25/1904), barra (from bar, giu/25/1904), bordanti (from boarder, Apr/20/1904; Jun/23/1904), bordaiuoli (from border, Jun/23/1904); contrattori (from contractor, Apr/21/1904; Oct/43/1904), carri or carri elettrici (from car, Jan/2/1904; Aug/32/1905); fruttistore (from Italian frutti plus store, Jul/27/1904/1), pagare shanty (from payshanty, used in early 20th century Anglo-American to indicate the daily pay);
Adapted loanwords in order to reproduce the original pronunciation:
ciatre (from charte, «act», Apr/18/1904), forman (from foreman, Mar/10/1904);
Semantic loanwords:
evidenze (from evidence, Apr/20/1904), fornitura (from furniture, Apr/19/1904; Sep/38/1904), the verb collettare or the noun collettore (from to collect, Dec/20/1903; May/19/1904; May/22/1904; Apr/14/1905), the verb condurre (from to conduct, Apr/20/1904), forestieri (from foresters, May/18/1904; May/20/1904), corti (from courts, Apr/18/1904; Apr/20/1904), unione/unionisti (from union, Jun/25/1904; Sep/36/1904), convenzione (from convention, Apr/13/1905), graduato (from graduate, Nov/17/1903; Nov/18/1903), fattoria (from factory, May/20/1904; May/22/1904), grosseria (from grocery, Feb/8/1905).

  • 37 Joshua Aaron Fishman, Language Loyalty in the United States. The Maintenance and Perpetuation of No (...)

16The journalistic text, needing to make a compromise with the social reality in which it was immersed and to which it gave voice, made use of a codified and shared vocabulary. The terms influenced by American English attest to an established average use reflecting everyday vocabulary. It would be reductive to think that linguistic loans were born only from communicative requirements, as necessary vocabulary, and that vocabulary that cannot be explained using pragmatic contingencies should simply be catalogued as «a luxury». In reality, such vocabulary was only in appearance superfluous; indeed, it endowed the utilized language with concreteness, a «linguistic loyalty» in reverse (paraphrasing the title of the book by Fishman37) to the new country, especially to the Italian American status that the “colony” had assumed. This might also be as true for some integral loanwords (whose presence alternated with the Italian equivalent) as it was for adapted loans or semantic loanwords (also often substituted by the respective national synonyms). The presence of this lexicon on the page of a newspaper, particularly in spaces that were not those of commercial announcements, can therefore be considered not simply a written reflection of a colloquial usage, but the consecration, the conscious acceptance, of a form, born in an oral context, by a journalistic oligarchy that recognized its value for the community but also made use of the equivalent Italian vocabulary. If, on the one hand, it was a language of necessity directed at communication that was sectorial, on the other, the adoption of words originating in common Italian American use (or directly from American English) seems to have provided the most popular and authentic mark of recognizability (and self-recognizability) for members of the local community, consecrated by the writing and not always the simple consequence of linguistic gaps. Paradoxically, hybridism, in this case, was accepted because it was voluntary, not the fruit of ignorance, a strong choice flaunted by a group conscious of the condition of its identity, an unavoidable element of the italianità of the emigrant, and, perhaps, an attempt to forget that the language of the Italian Americans was «raminga» as in Pascoli’s poem, the symbol of the precarious negotiation between two worlds.

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Notes

1 See Patrizia Audenino and Maddalena Tirabassi, Migrazioni italiane. Storia e storie dall’Ancien régime a oggi. Milano: Mondadori, 2008; Rudolph J. Vecoli, «Negli Stati Uniti», In Piero Bevilacqua, Andreina De Clementi and Emilio Franzina (eds.), Storia dell’emigrazione italiana, Roma: Donzelli, 2002.

2 See Pietro Russo, «La stampa periodica italo-americana», in Gli italiani negli Stati Uniti. L’emigrazione e l’opera degli italiani negli Stati Uniti d’America. Istituto di Studi Americani-Università degli Studi di Firenze: Firenze, 1972, p. 543‑596; Bénédicte Deschamps, De la presse «coloniale» à la presse italo-américaine. Le parcours de six périodiques italiens aux États-Unis 1910‑1935). Ph. D. Dissertation, 1996, Université Paris VII-Diderot; Jerre Mangione and Ben Morreale write: «Once almost every city and town with an Italian community from the East to the West had its Italian newspaper» (Jerre Mangione and Ben Morreale, La Storia. Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience, New York: Harper Collins, 1992, p. 454).

3 See N. W. Ayer, American Newspaper Annual. Philadelphia: Ayer and Son: 1884 et seq.; Lubomyr R. Wynar (ed.), Encyclopaedic Directory of Ethnic Newspapers and Periodicals in the United States, Littleton: Unlimited, 1972.

4 Stephen Puleo, The Boston Italians. A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day, Boston: Beacon, 2007, p. 30.

5 See Bénédicte Deschamps and Stefano Luconi, «The Publisher of the Foreign-Language Press as an Ethnic Leader. The Case of James Donnaruma and Boston’s Italian-American Community in the Interwar Years», Historical Journal of Massachusetts, 2002, nº 30, p. 126‑138.

6 For the social configuration of Boston’s Italian emigration at the beginning of the twentieth century and, above all, of the North End neighbourhood, see Anna Maria Martellone, Una Little Italy nell’Atene d’America. La comunità italiana di Boston dal 1880 al 1920, Napoli: Guida, 1973, p. 202‑203, p. 220‑221 and p. 234‑235.

7 Ayer’s Directory provides data concerning the GM for the first time in the 1905 volume (part one, p. 361), recording a press run of 5, 560 copies (obviously with reference to 1904). A comparison of this figure with demographic statistics regarding the Italian presence in Boston in that period demonstrates that the GM enjoyed a notable circulation: for 1905 the official number is 30,546 residents.

8 Citations of the GM provide: month/day/year. All translations are the author’s.

9 The word colonia («colony») as well the adjective colonial («colonial») was widely used to indicate the communities of Italian immigrants in North America.

10 «Noi abbiamo la buona intenzione di pubblicare un periodico coloniale che sia degno della patria e del giornalismo: per essere degno della patria dovrà anzi tutto essere scritto in lingua italiana».

11 «Volevamo dimostrare che anche qui, lontani dalla patria, vi erano elementi sufficienti per poter publicare [sic] un giornale veramente italiano e che non fosse indegno della patria nostra gloriosa e della letteratura sua gloriosissima».

12 «E questo fu il nostro programma, un programma non di cose di superuomini, ma di piccoli uomini, di cose modeste in modestissima forma, rischiarate da un po’ di luce di grammatica, ma pulite, lavate e rilavate nel bucato dell’educazione e della lingua patria».

13 «A chi serenamente osservi la vita delle nostre colonie negli Stati Uniti, apparrà quanto grande sia il contributo di educazione e di elevamento che la stampa settimanale ha loro dato».

14 «L’eco della nostra voce sarà udita in ogni occasione, quando l’elevazione della nostra gente e l’onore del nome d’Italia lo richieda».

15 It was, in fact, as Riccardo Tesi writes, a community that, «nella sua dimensione diacronica», had always characterized itself as a «collettività linguistica che ha cercato il proprio fondamento nell’accettazione di una serie di norme scritte» (Riccardo Tesi, Storia dell’italiano. La formazione della lingua comune dalle origini al Rinascimento, Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2001, p. 6).

16 The lines close «Canto augurale per la Nazione eletta», first published in 1899 and then used again in Elettra, the second book of the Laudi published in 1903.

17 Giovanni Pascoli published the short poem «Italy» in 1904 in the third edition of the Primi poemetti. The subtitle is «Sacro all’Italia raminga» (the consulted edition is the following: Giovanni Pascoli, Primi poemetti, Nadia Ebani (ed.), Parma: Guanda, 1997).

18 Giovanni Pascoli, Una sagra, in Giovanni Pascoli (ed.), Pensieri e discorsi, 1895‑1906. Bologna: Zanichelli, 1907, p. 174.

19 «Scuola italiana. Nel programma che il sig. Filamondi largamente diffuse fra la Colonia espone le ragioni per le quali gl’Italiani dovrebbero studiare la propria lingua. Ci spiace però che fra le altre non vi sia accennata la ragione più rilevante, cioè quella dell’obbligo morale e patriottico di non obliare e trascurare il solo vincolo che ci tien legati fortemente alla gloriosa Patria nostra».

20 «E la Scena illustrata [rivista pubblicata a Firenze e di cui si incoraggia l’abbonamento] recluta nelle sue file l’elemento più perfetto in arte, le penne più famose di letteratura e poesia. Italiani d’America!... non fate che i vostri figli, per imparare un indioma [sic] straniero dimentichino il dolce suono del . Coltivate parallela la necessità nello studio della lingua di questo paese con l’esercizio della gloriosa nostra favella».

21 «Comizi, miting e mitingai. D’una terra son tutti, un linguaggio parlan tutti, eppure si azzannano, si dilaniano a vicenda quali novelli Atridi».

22 Andrea Masini, «La lingua dei giornali dell’Ottocento», in Luca Serianni and PietroTrifone (eds.), Storia della lingua italiana, Torino: Einaudi, 1994, vol. II, p. 667.

23 Some examples: «colti in flagrante» («caught red-handed», Sept/2/1903); «La polizia strenuamente si oppone» («The police vigorously opposes», Sept/8/1903).

24 Chiefly of a political nature: patriottardo («patriotish», Jun/23/1904); according to Paolo Zolli and Manlio Cortelazzo, Il nuovo Etimologico. Dizionario etimologico della lingua italiana, Bologna: Zanichelli, 1999 (DELIN), the first attestation dates back to 1903, indexed also by Debora De Fazio, «Il sole dell’avvenire». Lingua, lessico e testualità del primo socialismo italiano. Galatina: Congedo, 2008; mesoneista (Aug/3/1903; indexed by DeFazio — as misoneista — who established the first attestation in 1909).

25 For example: mattoide (Mar/11/1904), see DELIN, s.v.

26 For example: sciampagna («champagne», Aug/6/1903); vaudeville (Aug/6/1903); entrefilet (May/18/1904); manager (May/18/1904); satin (May 19 1904); stock (May 19 1904); dock (May/19/1904).

27 For example: impiegomania (Aug/1/1903); pulcinellesca (May/20/1904); camorristiche (May/22/1904); also improvised para-economic verbal forms: coloniando (Apr/15/1904).

28 Examples: miserabilissimo (Apr/14/1904); anticipatissimamente (Apr/14/1904); perfettissima (Jan/2/1905); distintissimo (Jun/26/1905; Oct/41/1905).

29 More instances could be given, for example: aure (May/18/1904/1); procella (Jul/27/1904); altrici (Jul/31/1904); ubertoso (Aug/32/1904); peculio (Jun/23/1904); vedovato (~ consorte, Oct/42/1904).

30 See Ilaria Bonomi, «La lingua dei quotidiani milanesi di inizio secolo», in Ilaria Bonomi, L’italiano giornalistico. Dall’inizio del ’900 ai quotidiani on line, Firenze: Cesati, 2002, p. 148; at the end of the 19th century journalistic Italian was invaded, though not very frequently, by localisms, see Francesca Sboarina, La lingua di due quotidiani veronesi di fine Ottocento, Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1996, p. 235 and Carmine Scavuzzo, Studi sulla lingua dei quotidiani messinesi di fine Ottocento, Firenze: Olschki, 1988, p. 156‑161. In the GM words such as pizza, caciocavallo, mafia, camorra (and even the derivative word camorristiche) are meticulously differentiated via cursive style (Apr/20/1904; Apr/21/1904; Jul/31/1904; May/22/ 1904).

31 For example sloggiare (Oct/42/1904); fare spallucce (Oct/42/ 1904); gruzzoletto (Oct/42/1904); a Neapolitanism such as giamberga (Aug/2/1903, «gala male suit» see Salvatore Battaglia, Grande dizionario della lingua italiana, Torino: UTET, 1961‑2002 (GDLI, s.v.); a Tuscan regionalism (rare representative of its kind) such as pagaccia (Nov/45/1905, a regionalism according to GDLI and equally recorded by the Bernardo Bellini and Nicolò Tommaseo, Dizionario della lingua italiana, Torino: Unione tipografico-editrice, 1865‑1879, and by the Pietro Fanfani and Giuseppe Rigutini, Vocabolario italiano della lingua parlata. Novamente compilato da Giuseppe Rigutini, Firenze: Barbèra, 1854.

32 A column entitled «Fioretti di San Francesco» (a clear allusion to the forced penitence of the «learned» contributors of the GM) was even published occasionally on the front page; in it were presented, often without comments, these colonial scripta.

33 As in the following verses, where the grandmother is talking about the cold weather («nieva»: «It’s snowing») and her granddaughter mistakenly understands never: «Dicea»: «Bimbina, state al fuoco: nieva!/Nieva!» E qui Beppe soggiungea compunto:/ «Poor Molly! Qui non trovi il pai con fleva!» /Oh! No: non c’era lì né pie flavor/né tutto il resto. Ruppe in un gran pianto:/ «Ioe, what means nieva? Never? Never? Never?»/Oh! No: starebbe in Italy sin tanto/ch’ella guarisse: one month or two, poor Molly!» («Italy», vv. 98‑105).

34 In the following verses, Beppe is talking about his job in Cincinnati: «La mi’ Mèrica! Quando entra quel gelo,/ch’uno ritrova quella stufa roggia/per il gran coke, e si rià, poor fellow!/va pur via, battuto dalla pioggia./Trova un farm. You want buy? Mostra il baschetto./Un uomo compra tutto. Anche, l’alloggia!» («Italy», vv. 138‑140).

35 As Luca Serianni mentions, the «artificial» use of the dialect was already the currency of the Italian press in the second part of the nineteenth century (Luca Serianni, Storia della lingua italiana. Il secondo Ottocento, Bologna: il Mulino, 1990, p. 32).

36 See Franco Pierno, «La “lingua raminga”. Appunti su italiano e discorso identitario nella prima stampa etnica in nordamerica», in Matteo Brera, Carlo Pirozzi and Daniela Sannino (eds.), Lingua e identità a 150 anni dall’Unità d’Italia. Firenze: Cesati, 2011 (in press).

37 Joshua Aaron Fishman, Language Loyalty in the United States. The Maintenance and Perpetuation of Non-English Mother Tongues by American Ethnic and Religious Groups. London-The Hague-Paris: Mouton, 1966.

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Franco Pierno, « Building an Identity on Paper: The Negotiation of Italianitá in the Early North American Ethnic Press »Diasporas, 19 | 2011, 91-99.

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Franco Pierno, « Building an Identity on Paper: The Negotiation of Italianitá in the Early North American Ethnic Press »Diasporas [En ligne], 19 | 2011, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2019, consulté le 25 septembre 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/diasporas/1838 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/diasporas.1838

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Auteur

Franco Pierno

Franco Pierno is Assistant Professor of Italian Linguistics at the University of Toronto. He has published the following books: Postille moral et spiritual (1517), Strasbourg: Société de Linguistique Romane, 2008 and Stampa meretrix. Scritti quattrocenteschi contro la stampa. Venezia: Marsilio, 2011 (with the collaboration of Gianluca Vandone). As editor he has published the following books: Italofonie. Risvolti identitari e culturali della lingua italiana nei piccoli Stati e nelle realtà territoriali esigue. Atti della giornata di studi internazionale del 15 marzo 2007 (Consiglio d’Europa), Strasbourg: Publications du Conseil de l’Europe, 2008 (Co-edited with Guido Bellatti Ceccoli) and Aspects lexicographiques du contact entre les langues dans l’espace roman. Special issue of ReCHERches. Culture et Histoire dans l’Espace Roman. Strasbourg: Université de Strasbourg, 2008.

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