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Italian Language Acquisition and International Adoption

A Linguisitic Perspective

Egidio Freddi    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



There is part of the children’s population who experiences, in the language- acquisition field, an unparalleled and unique phenomenon: they are youngsters who arrive in Italy through international adoption. When they arrive, they are effectively legal citizens. However, at first Italian appears to be a foreign language which, gradually, is going to become a second language and, eventually, is going to turn into a second mother tongue. This process is extremely fast but it is also painful even because, along the way, the biological mother tongue is notched and replaced by the new adopted language. Often, these youngsters display to have linguistic and communicative disorders caused, on the one hand, by the pre-adoptive conditions and, on the other hand, by the urgency to organize the new language. It is a peculiar and evocative process which entails the intersection of bonds, languages and cultural worlds which are normally distant and divergent. The choice of adoption – with its permanent traits – challenges the family, the siblings and the newcomer. Several studies have already deepened the psychological consequences which an adoption may imply, but little is known about the linguistic-communicative aspects. This publication aims to approach the linguistic and acquisitional data of the adoptive experience, in relation to the primary mother tongue and the new-secondary mother tongue. A field research, conducted in the province of Mantua, allowed us to hand out a questionnaire, to the adoptive parents, regarding the linguistic process which has affected their children once they have come in contact with our language. A reasoned vocabulary of the linguistic terms related to adoption supplies additional and operational information to teachers, educators and parents

May 1, 2015
Copyright: © 2015 Egidio Freddi. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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