The Spanish Quarter of Naples

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This study focuses on the dynamics of linguistic conservation and innovation in the historic center of Naples, the Spanish Quarter. In the Spanish Quarter – historically marked by social marginalization and a notable use of dialect – the constant socio-environmental conditions have favored the preservation of habits of life and language. Constructed in the Sixteenth century to house Spanish soldiers, the Spanish Quarter has always been characterized for its layout – a grid of narrow streets that elicits its original intended defensibility and impenetrability. This aspect has greatly influenced the history of a colorful and “notorious” neighborhood, and may have played a role in contributing to the persistence of today’s cultural and language uses. An analysis of two linguistic phenomena in a corpus of speech produced by a sample of artisans shows that although Italian has gained a relevant space, it lives alongside a strongly diatopically and diastratically marked dialect, which serves as a territorial identification marker.


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