Project aims: This project is funded by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen - South Tyrol (Division for the Promotion of Education, Universities and Research) and is carried out at the University of Innsbruck, Department of Romance Languages by Dr. Christine Konecny (project head) and Mag. Erica Autelli. The aim of the project is to compile and examine Italian collocations in comparison with their German-language equivalents. The lemmata used to search for collocations will initially be limited to some 900-1100 noun bases. The collocations are collected in a database and will be published in book form as a learner’s dictionary in 2017.
Theoretical background: The research project is based in large parts on the research and results of Christine Konecny's doctoral dissertation, which was published in 2010 by Martin Meidenbauer (Munich) and has received several prizes, including the prestigeous "Premio Giovanni Nencioni 2012” from the Accademia della Crusca and the "Preis der Landeshauptstadt Innsbruck für wissenschaftliche Forschung an der Universität Innsbruck 2008”. Over the past few years, the team members have given numerous talks and published various articles (see "Publications”). To find out more about the conception of collocation in this project, see "What we mean by collocation”.
Method: The 900-1100 noun bases we will use in our search for collocations are taken from the Italian basic vocabulary (vocabolario fondamentale) as found in the Dizionario di base della lingua italiana (DIB) by Tullio De Mauro and Gian Giuseppe Moroni (1996). 200 of these 1100 nouns can also be classed as other word types (e.g. they are both a noun and an adjective). In order to make our list of collocations as comprehensive as possible, we will be using three different methods: (1) consulting different existent monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, (2) introspection on the part of the team members (who are native speakers of German or Italian) and (3) consulting suitable linguistic corpora.
Use of illustrations: In order to bring certain collocations to life and make them easier to memorize, we intend to use graphic illustrations. Many of these drawings already exist; they were produced by children and young adults during various public relations events such as “Aktionstage Junge Uni” (Youth University Day) and the Long Night of Research, and in cooperation with several schools in Tyrol (students age 9-18).
Innovative potential: In the fields of language studies and didactics, many disciplines such as French, English and Spanish studies have long recognized the central importance of collocations, and combinatory and collocational dictionaries for these languages already exist. This is not the case in Italian lexicography and didactics, where interest in the phenomenon of collocations is a very recent development. While several general collections of Italian idioms and figures of speech do exist (they contain some collocations alongside other types of word combinations), there is as of yet no publication geared towards language learners that is based on a comparison between Italian and German. Our project will therefore fill a large gap in Italian language research, and is also an innovative first in the fields of lexicography, foreign language didactics and German/Italian contrastive linguistics in general.
Target audience: Our collection of collocations is aimed at both learners and teachers of German and Italian, as well as at translators and interpreters. The publication will serve both as a teaching and a learning tool, and will hopefully contribute to an increase in awareness of the importance of language-specific collocations in language learning and in German/Italian learner lexicography.
Relevance for the regions of Tyrol and South Tyrol: With Innsbruck University and the Department for Romance Languages geographically situated where they are, at the "crossroads” of the German and Romance / Italian speaking world, the idea of contrastive language comparison in general and of collocations in particular practically suggests itself. Italy is right "on our doorstep” and many students of Italian come from South Tyrol, i.e. from a region where German-Italian bilingualism is a socio-political fact and factor. Those students coming from the Ladin-speaking valleys have even grown up in a de-facto trilingual setting, in which all three languages not only occur on an individual and social level, but are firmly anchored institutionally (trilingual schooling and three official languages). Findings from contrastive research into collocations will therefore also be a valuable addition to teaching at university, particularly as students already come to university with a certain level of awareness / sensitivity and interest. By treating both of the major languages spoken in South Tyrol (German and Italian) as equal, the planned learner’s dictionary will also send a signal promoting multilingualism as a socio-cultural value and contributing to the peaceful coexistence of the various language groups in South Tyrol.