The Position of Catalan in the Romance Language Family: Evidence from the Algherese Dialect
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I studied the Alguerese dialect of Catalan spoken in Sardinia to explore its value in resolving the long-standing dispute over whether Catalan fits into the Ibero-Romance subgroup of the Romance languages by examining a dialect whose principal contact influences, Italian and Sardinian, are less closely related than those neighboring continental Catalan dialects, namely Spanish and Occitan. I consulted with a variety of members of the community and conducted interviews with a diverse group of Alguerese speakers, which I recorded digitally for use in my ongoing research. This research touches on a range of linguistic aspects of Alguerese Catalan, including phonetic, phonological, morphological, pragmatic, semantic, syntactic, and sociolinguistic issues. Furthermore, my research concerns the important matter of language attitudes and the threatened status of the Alguerese dialect. During my time in Alguer I interviewed younger members of the speech community who revealed that their experiences closely matched those of members of other speech communities the existence of whose languages is threatened in the face of more dominant languages. The recordings that I made in Alguer will contribute to the preservation of Alguerese. These experiences exposed me to a range of ability levels shown by those learning Alguerese as a heritage language. My research trip also afforded me the opportunity to be interviewed by a journalist working for Catalan TV, which was a valuable source of information and provided a resource for recordings. Finally, while in Alguer I made contacts who provided me with useful materials and additional contacts that have resulted in research opportunities.