Volume 16, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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SUMMARYIn the Ercolano (1570) Benedetto Varchi (1503-1565), an important figure in the linguistic controversies of the Cinquecento, provides etymologies for a significant number of Italian terms, the majority of which are ascribed to three sources: Latin, Latin deriving ultimately from Greek, and ProvenÇal. Study of 233 such word origins from the perspective of modern theory shows Varchi's general accuracy regarding Latin and Greek elements but an exaggeration of the lexical impact of ProvenÇal. Furthermore, despite his own willingness to offer hypotheses, this philologist ridicules the search for derivations. Examination of certain facets of Varchi's outlook sheds light on these contradictions. We find him concerned primarily with the language of elite groups. In addition, he employs 'etymology' in two different senses, and minimizes the significance of the individual word. An adherent of the Aristotelian ad placitum doctrine, Varchi has an imperfect understanding of sound change. His correctness regarding Classical etyma proceeds from a solid Humanistic preparation, while overestimation of ProvenÇal influence may be associated with his reverence for the tenets of Pietro Bembo (1470-1547) and his obsession with the independence of the Italian vernacular. The Ercolano fails to specify possible sources for Varchi's etymological views.RÉSUMÉDans l'Ércolano (1570) Benedetto Varchi (1503-1565), participant important dans les debats linguistiques du Cinquecento, fournit l'etymologie d'un nombre considerable de mots italiens, les partageant surtout entre trois categories: termes d'origine latine, termes d'origine latine mais pri-mordialement derives du grec, et termes d'origine provenÇale. L'etude de 233 de ses 'etyma' regardes dans la perspective d'une etymologie moderne montre la precision generate de Varchi quant aux elements latins et grecs, mais aussi l'influence exageree qu'il attribue au provenÇal. D'ailleurs, tout en proposant lui-meme des hypotheses, ce philologue ridiculise la recherche des derivations. L'examen de certaines particularites de la pensee de Varchi eclaire ces contradictions. L'auteur s'interesse principalement au langage des classes superieures. En plus, il emploie 'etymologie' dans deux sens differents et minimise l'importance du mot pris d'une faÇon isolee. Partisan de la doctrine aristotelicienne de l'ad placitum, Varchi a une comprehension imparfaite des changements phonetiques. Sa correction en ce qui concerne les etymons classiques procede d'une solide formation humaniste, tandis que la surestimation de l'influence provenÇale ressortirait a son respect pour les principes de Pietro Bembo (1470-1547) et a son obsession de l'independance du vernaculaire italien. L'Ercolano ne laisse pas entrevoir les sources eventuelles des theories etymologiques de Varchi.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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