Discourse or Dialog Concerning Our Language 3

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Aug 2, 2019 10:59
Discourse or Dialog Concerning Our Language 3

In his Dialogue, Machiavelli underlines an interesting mechanism common to every language: when new speakers introduce foreigner words to a language, these follow its phonology and morphology; they change terminations and accents in order to assimilate to it. Machiavelli claims for language a formal and systematic unity that cannot get disordered by the introduction of new items. Quite surprisingly, he makes a military analogy to address the functioning of a language. He compares it to the Roman army: in fact, despite being it composed by many different allies, Roman army remained Roman in nature; especially for those things that concerned its order and discipline. The same we see happening with language; many mew words can be introduced at once without changing the structure and the proprieties of it. He also uses this argument to rebuke Dante's claim of writing in Italian, instead of Florentine, as many believed. Even if Dante, in his literary works, have used a great deal of words from other languages, he has still employed terminations and suffixes from Florentine.
Unlike Dante, when it comes to language, Machiavelli privileges grammar and rules over the purity of expressions and the consideration of aesthetic beauty of the words. He sets some functioning parameters to explain the work of languages; in doing this, he takes into account the historical contexts and the natural mutability of them. He gives very little importance to form and purity. In the same manner of an army, language behaves as a dynamic and active organism that necessarily assimilates the smaller ones. The vitality and the power of a country can be evaluated by that of its language. He gives a quite remarkable explanation on how language works in relation to power: "la lingua che si chiama d`una patria, la quale converte i vocaboli ch'ella ha accattato da altri nell'uso suo, e` cosi potente, che i vocaboli accattati non la disordinano ma la disordina loro' perche` quello ch'ella reca da altri, lo tira a se in modo che par suo." New foreigner words do not disorder the structure of a language; at the contrary, the structure of a language orders the new words in a way that they can fit in. In this short sentence there is much of Machiavelli`s philosophy; his concise style expressed the central concept in few words "non la disordinano ma la disordina loro."