As far as Italy and Italian are concerned, the concept of language usage largely depends on the fact that, for centuries and well after the political unification of Italy in 1861, Italian existed only as a literary language, while people spoke the local dialect or the regional variety of the language. This paper provides a brief historical introduction to the problem of usage and its presentation in dictionaries before commenting on two fairly recent, and conceptually different, models of usage in Italian lexicography. Both the Dizionario italiano Sabatini-Coletti and the Nuovo dizionario De Mauro date from the late 1990s, but while the latter is corpus-based and relies on word-frequency lists, the former introduces the concept of word availability (as distinct from word frequency) and applies it in its entries. In a way, these different lexicographical approaches show that language usage is still an issue of concern in the Italian linguistic panorama of the twenty-first century.


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pp. 117-132
Launched on MUSE
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