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Summary:

This study starts from Labov’s proposal that distinguishes linguistic changes from above and from below based on the awareness that speakers have of a change. The basic question of this work is whether these two levels are recognizable in some changes – essentially pragmatic – in late Latin. The development of politeness forms is proposed as a change from above, while the development of minimizers, which sometimes results in terms of negation, as a change from below. In fact, using titles and address forms, related to formality and politeness, requires the speaker/writer be strongly aware of the social characteristics of his own and the interlocutor. Documents of the first centuries as letters by the Popes and the Christian hierarchies show signs of a socio-cultural change that results in new definitions of the self and, consequently, in the use of new address forms. On the contrary, everyday linguistic use, from below, shows how some recurring pragmatic needs determine developments that can affect different levels of the system in several ways. We will exemplify these changes from below with the expressions of small quantities used as minimizers (micam, guttam), showing how these forms are common in late Latin.

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vulgaire – latin tardif XIII , 3–7 settembre 2018, Budapest. 9 HOFMANN, J. B.: La lingua d’uso latina . Bologna 2003, qui 154. 10 ROSÉN, H.: Latin, Sardic, and Irish evolvements. Contributo presentato al Panel Cyclicity in Semantic-Pragmatic change

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