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Latino, ebraico e volgare illustre: la questione della nobiltà della lingua nel “De Vulgari Eloquentia” di Dante

Author(s): Alessandro Raffi

Journal: Studi Linguistici e Filologici Online
ISSN 1724-5230

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 299;
Date: 2004;
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Keywords: Dante | Babel | Signum | Edenic language | El | Gramatica | Hjelmslev

In his De vulgari eloquentia (1306) Dante deals with the twofold problem of the origin of language and of the primary structure of the language of Adam, which Dante, such as everyone in the medieval period, identified as Hebrew. The Hebrew structural features give the normative paradigm for the elaboration of a taxonomy of the historical languages and of the Italian dialects, subdivided on the ground of their “nobility”. In such context, he also theorizes about the connection between the development of the job division and the linguistic differentiation in the mankind, starting from an unheard-of reading of the biblical episode of the tower of Babel. Dante’s thought is particularly concerned with the difference between forma locutionis (comparable to Saussure’s langue) and actus locutionis (comparable to Saussure’s parole). Comparing Hebrew, Latin and the “Illustrious Vulgar Language”, Dante outlines a doctrine where the poetic language is interpreted as an attempt to take back the historical idioms to the nobility which was prerogative of the Edenic language.
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