Popular children’s songs and the display of Italian multilingualism in Australia


  • Marco Santello University of Leeds




multilingualism, migration, Italian


Italians in Australia have been shown to have a varied linguistic repertoire, due to the presence of a high number of regional languages/dialects spoken in Italy, which they brought with them upon migration. Yet, their own efforts to bring attention to their multilingualism have not been fully explored. This article examines an audiocassette recording of a collection of children’s songs produced at the end of the 1970s by an Italo-Australian association for local circulation. It focuses on the design of the audiocassette cover and the range of regional languages/dialects of the songs in the collection, showing how (often mixed-language) texts and images aid language display. The results bring to the surface a deliberate effort to shed light on the rich multilingualism of Italy, which is consistent with the changing role of community languages in the period when this audiocassette was produced. These Italians in Australia make visible their multilingualism, presenting a range of regional languages/dialects also through their use in traditional songs, thereby showing another way in which multilingualism can be acknowledged and valued.

Author Biography

Marco Santello, University of Leeds

Marco Santello is an applied linguist with research interests in multilingualism, and is currently a lecturer in Intercultural Competence in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds, UK. He studied as an undergraduate at the University of Padua, Italy, and as a postgraduate at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan and the University of Sydney, Australia. He is particularly interested in language and mobility and codeswitching.


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How to Cite

Santello, M. . (2021). Popular children’s songs and the display of Italian multilingualism in Australia. Journal of Multilingual Theories and Practices, 2(1), 98–116. https://doi.org/10.1558/jmtp.18564