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Language and Speakers of the Kvarner Area in the Investigations of Alberto Fortis


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Malinar, Smiljka. (2011). Language and Speakers of the Kvarner Area in the Investigations of Alberto Fortis. Studia Romanica et Anglica Zagrabiensia, 56. pp. 3-13. ISSN 0039-3339

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In this article reference will be made to the contribution of Italian natural historian,journalist and travel writer Alberto Fortis (1741-1802) to the understanding of linguistic conditions in the area of the Kvarner (Quarnero).1 At least at the beginning of his research, Fortis was primarily interested in natural science, particularly in mineralogy and palaeontology. But because he was a true man of the Enlightenment period, his attention was also caught by the anthropological characteristics of the regions through which he travelled. In addition, he took with him an interest in archaeology and philology as part of the intellectual background and cultural heritage of the milieu in which he was formed, while the eastern part of the Adriatic provided an abundance of material and numerous opportunities for new knowledge and discoveries in both of these fields. Fortis the philologist was interested in the places that he visited in languages unknown to him; he embarked on etymological ‘reconstructions’, partially under the influence of local intellectuals. A good many of his linguistic considerations have no basis in the real circumstances, and are simply a reflection of the pre-scientific fallacies of his time.2 However, his field observations and notations of local names are much more reliable. Among other things, they were intended to provide a realistic and credible backing for the reports of his travelogues. Fortis’ field reports are not particularly numerous, nor are they characterised by system. Still, Romance philology does own to him some important information about two extinct languages – Krk- Romance and Krk-Romanian, although his informants, and so he too, incorrectly identified them. 3 Some parts of Fortis’ records from Kvarner refer also to socio-ethnic aspects of linguistic practice in the area, although mostly indirectly and fragmentarily. We believe that the topic deserves more minute examination, irrespective of our not having at our disposal an ideal corpus.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alberto Fortis, Matej Sović, Cres, Osor, Croatian Littoral, Glagolitic script, Old Slavonic, Slavonic, Croatian, Krk-Romance, Krk-Romanian
Subjects: Italian Studies
Departments: Department of Italian Language and Literature
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2014 09:39
Last Modified: 10 May 2014 08:55

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