Towards the elaboration of a diastratic model in historical analyses of koineization


  • Joshua Brown Australian National University



koineization, historical sociolinguistics, diastratic variation, language contact, medieval Italian


The paper argues for further development of models of koineization in a historical perspective. The four processes inherent in koineization reported in Britain (2012a) are taken as a starting point to show how the question of discerning these phenomena in the past is inherently problematic, but not impossible. After discussing some issues in identifying these processes in a medieval context, the paper moves to previous analyses of diastratic variation in studies of koineization. Using the data available for late medieval Italy, emphasis is placed on how diastratic variation is discernible in three parameters of verb morphology arising in the resultant koine, focussing on medieval Milanese. These observations, in turn, lead to further elaboration of a diastratic component in order to broaden our understanding of language change.

Author Biography

Joshua Brown, Australian National University

Josh Brown is lecturer in Italian Studies at the Australian National University, Australia. His doctoral work focussed on tuscanisation of merchant texts in late 14th-century Milan. He has research interests in historical sociolinguistics, particularly dialect contact and koineization in Renaissance Italy. His previous books include Early evidence for Tuscanisation in the letters of Milanese merchants in the Datini Archive, Prato, 1396–1402 (Istituto Lombardo Accademia di Scienze e Lettere, 2017), and with John J. Kinder Canon Raffaele Martelli in Western Australia, 1853–1864 (Abbey Press, 2014). He is currently preparing an edited volume, entitled Languages of Renaissance Italy, to be published by Brepols in 2021. 


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How to Cite

Brown, J. (2021). Towards the elaboration of a diastratic model in historical analyses of koineization. Sociolinguistic Studies, 14(4), 505–529.