This paper carries out a careful linguistic comparison between Giuseppe Baretti (1760)’s and Dr. Johnson (1755)’s grammars of English to assess to what extent Baretti’s work and linguistic views were influenced by his mentor. Although Baretti was accused of plagiarizing Johnson’s grammar both in his time and nowadays, a more careful and balanced assessment of his work points out that he does in fact admit to having taken and even copied from Johnson and that he is very good at reworking and adapting Johnson’s text for his own purpose, context and audience. While Johnson has to do with an English public, the Italian author focuses on the Italian student of English and has thus to highlight all the similarities and dissimilarities between the two languages, and all the relating problematic issues. Baretti’s main aim consists in making his grammaticographic treatment as easier and comprehensible as possible: in fact, he shortens what he deems too philological and erudite, he removes the linguistic niceties of Johnson’s presentation (information about English grammarians, specific language varieties etc.), and he employs a simple language, full of metaphors and images that can be easily understood by his readership. Moreover, his whole text is noted for its familiar, friendly and, at times, joking tone, which Baretti can convey by pointing out his own past difficulties as a student of English and by playing with his interlocutor. Baretti’s intellectual strength, linguistic skills and original approach shine through his grammar. Although he was ready to recognize Johnson’s pre-eminence, he did not give up using his brains, and was able to put forward original considerations and personal remarks, thus revealing his enthusiastic commitment and outstanding personality. Finallly, by reworking Johnson’s grammar, Baretti has contributed some innovative material and techniques to the early tradition of Italian grammars of the English language. In an even larger perspective, what this paper tries to say about Baretti and Johnson, and their grammar books, illustrates a crucial moment in the complex and intriguing history of the linguistic, literary and cultural relations between England and Italy.
|Data di pubblicazione:||2006|
|Titolo:||In Johnson’s footsteps: Baretti’s English Grammar and the spread of the English language in Italy during the eighteenth century|
|Parole Chiave:||grammaticography; lexicography; history of the English language|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Articolo su Rivista|