1999

BC -- Philology; Languages and Linguistics


Bibliografia dell'italiano come lingua straniera [Bibliography of Italian as a Foreign Language]. Patrizia Molteni. Roma: Edizioni Linguistic Club, 1998. 183 p. 30 cm. ISBN 88-87076-01-4: Lit. 30,000
An RREO Original Review 

Finally, a reference book that could have answered a reference question this reviewer had recently! This excellent paperback, published by the Edizioni Linguistic Club, now known as Edizioni Culturiana, lists over 1,300 citations of materials concerning the teaching and study of Italian as a second language, from the rudimentary children's level to that of the undergraduate student. The book, therefore, is intended primarily for use by Italian language teachers worldwide, but will also find use by librarians and linguistic scholars.

The editor explains in her introduction that she covers only the years 1975-1997. The purpose of the book is not to provide a comprehensive historical bibliography, but rather to provide teachers and students with current, usable materials. Thus, imprints from 1975-1984 are included selectively based upon their continued use in Italian language instruction today. Imprints from 1985-1997, on the other hand, are listed comprehensively--the editor respects diverse teaching methods, and so will make no claim to the relative quality of those methods or their respective materials.

The bibliography includes mostly Italian and French publications, with some British and Spanish. The editor hopes to publish a revised edition that will include imprints from, at least, Germany, Greece, and North America. Most citations are to books, with a few articles also listed. Audiovisual materials and CD-ROMs are given much attention, appearing as separate subdivisions under each subject. The editor even plans to release a CD-ROM version of the bibliography itself.

The bibliography does not limit itself to grammars and composition textbooks alone. Many titles are included because of their emphasis on Italian language, or because of their potential for classroom use. Included, therefore, are titles ranging from Italian Syntax: Transformational and Relational Grammar (Cambridge, 1977), to Italian for Commerce (Pergamon, 1987), to Spotlight on Italian: Life and Language in Italy Today (Heinemann, 1981).

Unnumbered entries are classified by Italian academic subject headings such as lessico [vocabulary] and fonetica [phonetics]. Some subjects, such as Italiano per bambini [Italian for children] and Italiano per adulti [Italian for adults], are further subdivided: manuali [manuals], metodi audio-visivi [audiovisual methods], letteratura per bambini [literature for children], and others. Citations are arranged alphabetically by author within each subject and subdivision.

The citations are bibliographically basic: author, title, place, publisher, and year. Most book citations include number of pages; some include series and volume information. The citations are explicit enough for librarians and teachers, but their inconsistency of completeness is puzzling. Given the chronological scope of the book and the limited warehouse stock within the Italian publishing industry, one cannot expect the citations to include ISBNs and prices. Some annotations are very brief (sometimes one word, e.g., verbi [verbs]); some are lengthy (a hundred words), but most are a sentence or two. The editor clearly and concisely summarizes each work, and truly remains unbiased. For purely instructional materials the editor notes the intended audience and level--secondary schools, universities; introductory, advanced, etc. It is unfortunate that some (admittedly very few) publications, including dictionaries, lack annotations. Content and audience are not obvious from the titles of these works, and so we must assume that, for our benefit, the editor has noted their existence, despite not having seen some of the works herself. Although the annotations are in Italian, collection development and reference librarians without knowledge of Italian will still find the bibliography useful in their work.

The work contains a single index of personal names. Most entries are to authors of the works cited. The index also includes, in italics, names mentioned in abstracts. For example, the index refers to exercise books based upon the works of Dino Buzzati, Umberto Eco, and Dario Fo. Although probably not entirely necessary given the subject headings and the name index, a title index might have been beneficial as well.

The book ought to be acquired by colleges and universities internationally that teach Italian at the undergraduate level, as well as by public libraries with Italian immigrant communities. The bibliography will also be of value to libraries supporting academic linguistics programs of second language acquisition, Romance languages, and language pedagogy. Similar bibliographies have been published over the past few decades; yet, this one is far superior and far more valuable to the teaching and promotion of the Italian language.

Beau David Case (Ohio State University)


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Last update: July 31, 2000 [RD]
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