Elements of a philosophy of language in Claudio Tolomei’s Il Cesano de la lingua Toscana

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This paper aims at a re-consideration of Claudio Tolomei’s Il Cesano de la lin­gua Toscana (1525, with later revisions) from a philosophical-linguistic point of view. The author focuses on the way Tolomei described the realm of language as conditioned by social-spatial and time coordinates. Historical factors intertwined, in Tolomei’s mind, both in the origins and in the normal functioning of language, providing a “natural” reason for the multiplication of languages. The myth of Babel was therefore discredited. The author also pays attention to Tolomei’s meta­lan­guage, where the standard nature/arbitrariness distinction was replaced by the na­ture/art distinction, indebted to the rhetorical tradition. On the one hand, it is ar­gued, Tolomei refrained from using the term arbitrariness because it did not ac­knowl­edge the role of chance in language; on the other hand, he employed a multi­faceted concept of nature to explain the features that rendered Tuscan a language “in its own right”.


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