The Sardinia Literary Spring and Intergenerational Transmission

Valentina Concu
Purdue University

ccCC BY 4.0

Cite as: Concu, V. (2018, December). The Sardinia Literary Spring and Intergenerational Transmission. Paper presented at the Fourth Intergenerational Transmission of Minority Languages Symposium: Language and Identity.

Sardinian is a minority language spoken on the island of Sardinia by ca. one million speakers and it is classified today as an endangered language, as the “ability to speak Sardinian has declined from about 80% as ‘very good’ in the parental generation to less than 50% recording the same level of ability for their siblings” (Salminen, 1993). The status of Sardinian as endangered language is strictly related to the lack of intergenerational transmission (Mensching, 2000), whose roots can be found in the strong relationship between language and identity, as “intergenerational transmission […] is clearly affected by language ideologies” (Campell & Christian, 2003, p.4). Due to historical and political events, Sardinian has gained a different social status in comparison to Italian, which overlaps with the subordinated role that the island has played and still plays today in the Italian geopolitics. The decline of the number of Sardinian speakers can be seen then as a vivid example of the effects of idealization processes on language perception, use, and maintenance. However, together with some regional regulations passed by the government in recent years aimed to “rescue” Sardinian (Maxia, 2017), the authors of the so-called Sardinian Literary Spring are also playing a key role in the restore of its prestige. In this paper, I argue that authors such as Marcello Fois, Salvatore Niffoi, and Milena Agus, with their linguistic choices, are contributing to the intergenerational transmission of a cultural and linguistic heritage that would get lost otherwise. This study focuses specifically on those strategies and linguistic elements used by the authors of the Sardinian Literary Spring that are contributing today to the maintenance and transmission of Sardinian.