CARATTERI FUSI – L’A
The POP objective of elleapostrofoa‘s work is to present a provincial town as if it were a metropolis, beginning from its typical features. “In middle school, I bought a Doors record, ‘L.A. Woman’, and I told myself “when I grow up I’ll publish ‘L’A. Quatrana’, a girl in dialect, but I never did, because I have no singing skills or musical talent. The idea, evidently, sat in my head”.
Today, there are about seventy L’A-branded merchandising products. Many play on dialect terms. In the city’s bookshops, for example, one of the most popular gifts for Christmas 2020 was ‘Ju principe zicu’, a transposition into the local dialect of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Dialect, however, is not just a source of play: a linguist, Teresa Giammaria, has studied L’A’s experience as an example of dialect revaluation, citing Antonio’s work in a paper (included in the book Dialect and Society, edited by Professor Gianna Marcato and published in 2018 by CLEUP – University of Padua) about the humorous use of the local language as a means through which young L’Aquila people can rediscover tradition. “We hold a workshop, in four meetings, at a local middle school, in collaboration with art, literature and music teachers. This year, the workshop should have started also at the local classical studies secondary school, but the Covid emergency has put the brakes on things for the moment,” says Antonio.
Elleapostrofoa does not use a specific register. The calendar, for example, presenting the city and its features, uses a humorous approach (in the month of February, we are invited to save the Earth because it is the only planet that makes arrosticini, the local sheep meat skewers). And so does the text of ‘I love JU’, the book dedicated to the L’Aquila dialect, a collection of factsheets illustrating the grammar basics of the L’Aquila dialect in a brief and fun way, with a preface by linguists Teresa Giammaria and Professor Francesco Avolio. Similarly, although the first retailers of the t-shirts were pubs, today L’A’s merchandising can be found at the tourist information office, opened by the municipal council about a year and a half ago near the Fontana Luminosa.
In the preface to illustrated book I love JU – presenting the grammar basics of the L’Aquila dialect – Avolio and Giammaria write:”The value of this slim, yet dense volume in the eyes of the dialectologist is remarkable, for a number of reasons. In recent years, scientific discourse has brought to light not the widely-claimed ‘death of dialects’, but, on the contrary, their constant and changing presence within the linguistic repertoire of Italians, including young adults, and even in the new forms of communication, especially on the web […]. For a few years now, L’A’s experience has been looked at among researchers as the expression of a new paradigm on the national scene, an effective demonstration of the new uses and the new function that dialect has assumed in the linguistic repertoire of Italians, especially young ones. Since the beginning of the web, dialect has been regarded as a privileged code, with a more effective ability to express feelings of belonging and identity, which is what the people of L’Aquila certainly needed after the catastrophe of 2009″.