Fixing national borders: language and loyalty in Nice

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The rapid language shift which took place in Nice after it became part of the French state in 1860, having been ceded by the King of PiedmontSavoy, Victor-Emmanuel II, to Napoleon III, is remarkable. The realignment from being part of the territory of the House of Savoy to incorporation in the French state was so swift and so complete that it cut Nice from its old links and networks. Because of political events it is not surprising that Italian was replaced by French as the language of public life. However, what is surprising is that the local Italian dialect, Nissart, disappeared from the private domain. As ever, when a group chooses to acquire another idiom, the choice is rooted in politics and in the cultural status of speakers of the new language. It is also related to the personal advantage learners hope to acquire by allying themselves with any prestige and with economic and political benefits enjoyed by that language community. Below I examine some of the forces that caused the language shift and which established a clear line between the Italian and French-speaking worlds along the political border.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond boundaries: language and identity in contemporary Europe
EditorsP. Gubbins, M. Holt
Place of PublicationClevedon
PublisherMultilingual Matters
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)1853595551
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2002


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