Dotto, Diego (2008) Tradizioni scrittorie venezianeggianti a Ragusa nel XIV secolo: edizione e commento di testi volgari dell'Archivio di Stato di Dubrovnik. [Ph.D. thesis]
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In the Middle Ages Ragusa/Dubrovnik was a maritime centre of prime importance: it was the first harbour for ship entering the Adriatic and at the same time the last base before handling the sailing in the Mediterranean, mostly eastward. In addition the strong economic contacts with the hinterland guaranteed to the city an unchallenged supremacy in the import-export management between the Balkan Peninsula and the West. Forced to the subjection to Venice in 1205, following the Fourth Crusade, it accepted its rule until the 1358, achieving with the Zaran peace a substantial independence limited only by the formal recognition of the sovereignty of the King of Hungary and Croatia.
The Venetian period was short but also full of consequences from a linguistic point of view with the transplant of Venetian linguistic models in spoken and written language. The spread of a Venetian style vehicular language was inserted into a quite differentiated linguistic scene, which reflected the complex pluriethnic composition of the city and its multi-facets, with direct relationship with the Latin West as well as the Slavic East. Actually, besides the Venetian language, the repertoire of the Ragusan linguistic community was made up of at least the Croatian - the majority language - the Ragusan - namely the autochthonous Romance survived until the end of the 15th century among the families of more ancient tradition - and the other vernacular Italo-Romances widespread because of social and economic relations mainly concerning Tuscany and the maritime centres on the west bank of the Adriatic.
The relevance of the medieval vernacular linguistic heritage held in the Državni arhiv u Dubrovniku had already been disclosed by Gianfranco Folena in the famous contribution entitled Introduzione al veneziano «de là da mar», a fascinating recognition of the multiple linguistic contacts of the lagoonal variety in the various environments reached by the commercial and economic expansion of the Venetian thalassocracy. Partially granting the stimulations from that wise person, the search work meant to give a brief picture of the Venetian writing traditions widespread in Ragusa in the 14th century through the edition and comment of documentary texts. The bibliographic research on the printing editions and especially the direct research on record have distinguished three typologies of vernacular use, according to the basis of the production area and writer's identities: an autochthonous tradition attributable to Ragusan writers, especially constituted by the letters that the merchants wrote to the panels of judges of the city, regarding summons for legal disputes of different sorts; a tradition inside the chancellery, which was made of people from the Italian Peninsula, whose tasks were the writing and recording of letters and commissions addressed to private citizens or city hall officers, such as ambassadors, mayors, counts, captains, etc.; finally an intermediate tradition constituted by the texts produced outside the chancellery but copied by the chancellors for probative purposes in the chancellery record offices. The research has only been focused on the first two traditions because more reliable from a linguistic point of view.
It has been organized a corpus of 53 first-hand texts datable between the end of the 13th century and the third decade of the 14th century (39 unpublished and 14 published) for the vernacular scripta of the Ragusan writers. The linguistic comment illustrates their main components, giving particular attention to the spelling, phonetics and morphology: the Venetian base formed by the common traits to the lagoonal coeval scripta, the removal of characteristic or specific elements of the Venetian language, eventually the differential traits testifying an autonomous revision of the model. The analysis shows how the variation spreads out on a heterogeneous and differentiated material, probably because of as much differentiated levels of acquisition of the Venetian model. However, if the analysis gets out from the individual dimension of the single textual units, then you will catch an ordered linguistic reality, able to be ordered according to the dialectics between the previously illustrated components.
Two corpora have been organized for the vernacular scripta of the chancellery: a first exhaustive corpus for the texts dating back to the Venetian domination, therefore datable ante 1358 (14 texts), and a second corpus based on a selection on subsequent texts, datable between the 1358 and the 1380, kept in the DAD registry, s. XXVII.1 Litterae et commissiones, vol. 2 (57 texts). In this case the analysis has been carried out on the individual profile of the single chancellors because they came from different areas of the Italian peninsula: the north-east area (Cividale and Rivignano), the Po area (Arco, Piacenza), Tuscany (Pistoia), Southern Italy (Brindisi). In spite of such varied origins, the vernacular texts written by the Ragusan chancellery show a quite close linguistic physiognomy, due to the influence of two common models: Latin, mainly exerting its pressure from a spelling point of view and obviously the Venetian.
The penetration of scriptae in the Venetian style outside and inside the chancellery must not be interpreted as a transplant taking place from above, following a definite and conscious linguistic politics. The assimilation was achieved from the bottom as a result of the political, economical, social and personal contacts running along the direction linking the two cities. Under this profile we must consider the absence of a significant linguistic change straddling the 1358, because on the contrary the writings would maintain or consolidate the Venetian base during the second half of the 14th century. In favour of the freedom of writing, the value that the Medieval culture imputed to the linguistic identity had an influence, which was less tying with regard to other identities such as the religious or legal one, and therefore more receptive and willing to adopt a polychromatic physiognomy according to the different usage contexts.
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