Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Francesca Parmeggiani, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Caley Johnson, Ph.D.


In this thesis paper, I address the question of linguistic shift in the context of Southern Italian dialectology. I break this study up into two parts. First, I discuss the decline in usage of regional dialects in contemporary Southern Italy, particularly the regions of Calabria, Campania, and Sicily, and provide an assessment of their current vitalities and popularities. Then, I address the role of Italian dialect speakers abroad, specifically in the Italian American context, in this dynamic of linguistic evolution, extinction, and survival. Along with factual data and statistics describing the vitalities of the dialects in Italy, a selection of eight interviewed subjects provide their own personal experiences as Italian Americans who speak a dialect which originates from these regions. Through my analysis of the linguistic history of the regions named, in conjunction with their more general histories, I provide an accurate account and background of each dialectal language and its usage. This essay also addresses how Italian Americans can fit into the overarching history and linguistic phenomenon. The collection of data and the analysis presented in this thesis provide insight into the circumstances of linguistic shift, as well as how speakers who happen to be abroad might ameliorate or affect the status and vitalities of dialects of a particular nation.