N. 16.1-2 (2012)
Editors: Giuseppe Balirano, Julia Bamford and Jocelyne Vincent

Jocelyne Vincent

Varieties of variation and the variation of varieties: an introductory essay


Intended as a methodological preamble and contribution to the volume, the essay addresses the range of approaches to, perspectives on and theoretical issues attached to variation in language use found in the various interested disciplines, overviews some of the range of types of variation identified by scholars in different periods and places, while also issuing a caveat by highlighting of the potentially confusing taxonomic and terminological variation also to be found in the field, i.e. the varieties, and crossing, of names given to the various types of variation.





Giuseppe Balirano and Bronwen Hughes

Identity building and language variation in AVT


This paper addresses the problem of dubbing linguistic variation in general, and ethnically marked varieties in particular. The small corpus under scrutiny in the article is the Italian film dubbing of Eat Pray Love (2010), with particular attention paid to how Elizabeth Gilbert’s speech and cultural identity are rendered in the target version. The authors identify diastratic, diatopic and diachronic types of variation in the Italian dubbed version, as well as foreign accents present in the original - completely neutralised in the Italian version - and analyse them in an attempt to identify the connotative implications they present to the different target viewers. By examining what they have termed the “re-routing strategy” employed when an Audio-Visual Translation product presents culture-bound and multilingual constraints, they attempt to illustrate that the original skopos of the source text undergoes considerable modification when ‘crossing over’ to the Italian dubbed version.





Belinda Crawford Camiciottoli

Variation in persuasive financial discourse: face-to-face vs. teleconference earnings presentations


Recent vicissitudes in the financial world have reinforced the need for companies to operate transparently and to project a positive corporate image. During financial earnings presentations, this remains a top priority for executives who must persuade investors of the soundness and worth of their companies. Taking inspiration from Aristotle’s notions of logos (appeals to rationality) and ethos (appeals to credibility), the study investigates how executives use logical connectives and hyperbole to achieve their goals. These features are analyzed in two spoken corpora of financial earnings presentations given in different interactional settings: face-to-face and via telephone, i.e. conference calls through a teleconferencing service. The methodological approach encompasses both quantitative techniques of corpus linguistics and follow-up qualitative analysis to better interpret the empirical data. In addition, the findings are further illuminated by insights from professional informants who regularly participate in such events. The results indicate that both logical connectives and hyperbolic adjectives/adverbs are used extensively by executives to steer investors towards interpretations that emphasize the positive aspects of companies’ performance, while minimizing negative results. The findings of this study can be applied to the development of training courses for business professionals and students that more closely mirror today’s corporate world.





Emilia Di Martino

When the same book speaks two different languages. Identity and social relationships across cultures in the Italian translation of The Uncommon Reader


This article examines Monica Pavani’s ‘ferrying’ of the (Q/q)ueen’s voice in The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett across languages/cultures in the light of translation as a creative form of writing. The focus is on the translation of ‘style’, which is used here as a rough equivalent of Halliday’s ‘tenor’ and may be intended in a context of literary sociolinguistics as variation within a specific character’s language use, i.e. as intra-character variation according to addressee. Looked upon in this way, style can be said to represent the central component in the construction of each character’s social identity and specific language choices thus become indexes of different levels of closeness/inclusion and distance/exclusion and community-belonging. Translation of such choices across languages irremediably results in building up different identities and social relationships in target texts, thus often making the same book speak different languages across different cultures. The overall aim of the paper is to show how, while the recent focus on feminist intervention certainly helps to detect certain practices of “hijacking”, recourse to the tools of literary sociolinguistics can contribute to become aware of other, (sometimes) less overt, forms of text re-appropriation and re-purposing.





Siria Guzzo

A Contact Variety of English: the Case of the Bedford Italian Community


This article investigates the ethnolect and language behaviours across two of the three generations of Italians in Bedford, focusing on today’s L1 Anglophone adolescents and considering whether this community is undergoing some changes. Given the differences between Italian and English societies, the present study questions whether Anglo-Italian teenagers, who are no longer fluent in the Italian language, are likely to express linguistic distinctiveness in English. Based on the account of her earlier research work on the Bedford Italian Community (Guzzo 2005, 2007), in this paper the author focuses on the phonology of two speakers – one female BI adolescent and a demographically matched, male speaker. The micro approach enables investigation at a level of detail not previously displayed.





Suzanne Romaine

"It snuck in so smooth and slippery we didn’t even hear it”: How snuck snuck up on sneaked


This article focuses on the evolution of the irregular past tense variant snuck. The emergence and subsequent rapid spread of snuck is especially intriguing because irregular verbs in modern English constitute a closed class numbering only about 150-180, to which there have been no recent additions. The general drift of change is for strong verbs to regularize in the direction of weak preterites. The competition between sneaked and snuck is investigated here both synchronically and diachronically by means of quantitative investigation with corpora and other data resources. The trend toward snuck is much more prominent in American and Canadian English, but snuck has been sneaking across the Atlantic to the UK. More historical research is needed to chart the occurrences of sneak and its variants in different text types and genres over time. The article also examines continuing tensions between descriptive and prescriptive concerns, with some prescriptive grammarians regarding snuck as non-standard. It remains to be seen whether snuck will become conventionalized and universally accepted as the unmarked past tense form.





Francesca Vigo

Pragmatic strategies in casual multiparty ELF conversations.


With the unprecedented spread of the English language and its new role as a global language, studies on varieties of English have increased enormously. One of the consequences in Europe of this spread is an interest in ELF, English as a Lingua Franca. The role played by English in Europe today is quite unlike the commonly accepted understanding of a lingua franca in that it seems not to simply have a transactional function; studies support the claim that ELF, and ELF Europe within it, ought to be considered a new variety of English. Research into this possible new variety of English has mostly focused on phonology and lexico-grammar, yet a focus on the pragmatics of ELF exchanges may best disclose the real ‘character’ of this variety. Within the broader scope of World Englishes, the Native/non-Native issue and that of intelligibility, the paper tries to shed some light on the pragmatic skills of ELF speakers through an analysis of two multiparty ELF casual conversations selected from a larger expressly gathered corpus.



A double blind peer-reviewed journal, published twice a year by Università degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”'