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The Functions of Sicilian in Camilleri's Il ladro di merendine.

Abstract: Italian author, director and media personality Andrea Camilleri has attained extraordinary fame over the past forty years becoming a cultural phenomenon in Italy. He is perhaps best known for his novels, particularly the Commissario Montalbano mystery series, the television adaptation of which has achieved the highest audience rating for prime time dramas. Decisive to Camilleri's success is his language, which is distinguished by a unique blend of features from different varieties of Italian and, primarily, Sicilian dialect. This paper investigates the incidence of Sicilian dialect and its situational use as a function of topics, characters, and settings in Il ladro di merendine, the third novel (1996) and the first television episode (1999) of the Montalbano series. A contrastive analysis of the distribution of dialectal features in the novel and the episode is carried out aiming at establishing if they play a defining role in the depiction of characters, plot and main themes, and to evaluate if differences in such functionality exist between the two media. My results show that in the television episode Sicilian features more notably (especially at the phonological level), indexes high emotional, most typically negative involvement and (stereo) typical traits of (Sicilian/Southern Italian) women but can also convey humor and affective connotations.

Keywords: Female characters, Italian language, linguistic functionality, Sicilian dialect, sociolinguistic functionality, television adaptation.

Il linguaggio e nato a casa mia. Era lo slang usato dai miei genitori fra loro e con ifigli. la parte dialettale corrispondeva alle emozioni, quella italiana ufficializzava il discorso. (1) (Andrea Camilleri)


Italian author, director and media personality Andrea Camilleri has gained outstanding popularity over the past forty years and has become a cultural phenomenon in present-day Italy, and perhaps even internationally. With a production of more than one hundred narrative works covering a variety of sub-genres, Camilleri has been translated into thirty languages including Japanese and Korean. Camilleri's pezzo forte is perhaps the Commissario Montalbano mystery series, which presently includes twenty-five novels and five collections of stories published in the course of twenty-three years. (2) The exceptional popularity of the Montalbano series is reflected by the television adaptation, which has now aired for eighteen years and includes thirty movie-length episodes, all of which have attained the highest audience rating for primetime dramas. (3) Moreover, several of Montalbano's stories have been collected in textbooks and anthologies for Italian language courses, and some comic book adaptations have even been realized. (4)

Camilleri's powerful cultural influence has been well documented (Buttitta 2004; Capecchi 2000; Sorgi 2000) and his trademark use of an original, remarkably crafted language in his works has also drawn considerable attention and has become a controversial subject in literary circles and mass media. In fact, a large measure of Camilleri's success derives from his ability to capture subtleties of language in his novels, short stories and screenplays. Linguists have likewise taken an interest in Camilleri's language, which is characterized by features from many varieties of Italian and dialects, with Sicilian unquestionably predominating (Vizmuller-Zocco 2001, 2004, 2010; Borsellino 2002; Novelli 2002; Santulli 2010). Different attempts have been made to identify the precise nature of the Sicilian dialect employed by Camilleri and contrasting views have been expressed regarding its characterization: is it really Sicilian dialect or simply regional Italian? Or is it Camilleri's own version of Sicilian? (Scaglia 2013; cf. also Novelli 2002; Pistelli 2013). Camilleri's motivations for using Sicilian have been discussed as well; on the one hand, his use of dialect has been viewed as a vulgar attempt to pander to his readership (Cotroneo 1998; Merlo 2000) whereas, on the other, it has been ascribed a number of functions. For instance, Novelli (2002: LXIX) proposes that "[i]l dialetto in Camilleri e al servizio di un ubiquo, insopprimibile gusto per la resa su carta dell'immediatezza orale", while Borsellino (2002: XXXI) maintains that "le dramatis personae prendono il corpo del loro linguaggio", and according to Pistelli (2013: 23-24), Camilleri's clever mistilinguismo is never uncalled for; rather, it impresses irony and musicality to the narration, and serves to achieve a better depiction of characters and settings. Similarly, Santulli (2010: 36ff) remarks that the alternation between Sicilian and Italian is linked to context, communicative situation, and interlocutor's goals and states of mind. Sicilian is a mark of confidentiality and complicity but can also denote fear or establish distance: "[i]l dialetto e espressione autentica, bassa, ma vera, lingua in cui non si puo mentire e per questo fonte al tempo stesso di minaccia e solidarieta" (Santulli 2010: 59). Vizmuller-Zocco (n.d.), on the other hand, identifies three contexts in which Sicilian is used: (a) the direct speech of lower class characters and mafiosi, (b) proverbs ("Futtiri addritta e caminari na rina /portanu l'omu a la ruvina", Il cane di terracotta, 143) and formule magiche ("Rapriti pipiti e chiuditi popiti" 92), and (c) lists of synonyms ("nirbusi, sconoscenti, sciarreri" 138). (5)

This study examines the distribution of features of Sicilian and the situational use of the Sicilian dialect as a function of female characters vis-a-vis topics and situations, as well as from a sociolinguistic perspective (i.e., in terms of social class, age, level of education) in Il ladro di merendine, the third novel (1996) and the first episode (1999) of the Montalbano series. I carry out a contrastive analysis of the distribution of dialectal features in the novel and the television adaptation to determine if and to what extent Sicilian plays a defining role in the depiction of characters, plot, main themes and settings, and to assess if differences in such functionality exist between the two media, particularly in light of the fact that pronunciation, inflection and intonation patterns (i.e., orality) can convey a wider range of degrees of dialectality. My results reveal that both in the novel and the television episode Sicilian functions as index of female characters, plot, main themes and settings, and most of all bears a range of emotive connotations. Such situational functionality though is apparently more prominent in the television episode where Sicilian features more extensively (and not exclusively at the phonological level as it would be expected). On the other hand, the role played by sociolinguistic factors in the use of Sicilian or Italian is not easy to assess, mainly due to the scarcity of information provided about them.

The paper is organized as follows: in Section 2, I introduce the characters whose speech has been analyzed; in Section 3, I outline my data and methodology; in Section 4, I present my results, which are then discussed in Section 5; and Section 6 concludes the paper, providing a summary of the main findings and suggestions for future research.

The Characters

Ten female characters are taken into consideration in this study. (6) They are divided into two groups of five characters each; the first group includes the characters featured in both the novel and the television adaptation, while the second group is comprised of the characters that are present only in the novel. For the first group, I carried out a contrastive analysis of each character's language in the novel and the television episode. The analysis of the language of the characters from the second group served to obtain a more comprehensive characterization of the patterns of the functionality of Sicilian dialect in the novel vis-a-vis the television adaptation. In the remainder of this section, I provide a brief characterization of each character noting their role in the story, how they are presented in the novel by the narrator and/or other characters in terms of physical appearance as well as attitudes and demeanor, and how they look and conduct themselves in the television episode. (7)

The Female Characters Present in Both the Novel and the Television Episode

Antonietta Palmisano Lapecora. Mrs. Lapecora, the widow of Aurelio Lapecora, a wealthy retired businessman, is the most important of the female characters and, in fact, killed her husband out of greed. In the novel, she is presented as the (stereo)typical Sicilian middle-aged woman: "Non c'e fimmina siciliana di qualsiasi ceto, nobile o viddrana, la quale, passata la cinquantina, non si aspetti il peggio. Quale peggio? Uno qualsiasi, ma sempre peggio. La signora Antonietta segui la regola" (39). Although she betrays herself quite soon ("E qui la signora Antonietta disse una cosa che, a filo di logica, non avrebbe dovuto dire", 39), she remains very distant and does not appear particularly concerned or distressed. She maintains a calm and controlled attitude ("la signora Lapecora parlava tranquillamente [...]. Stava spiegando, con dovizia di particolari, l'operazione che la sorella aveva subito a Fiacca", 39; "La vedova era andata ad assittarsi in una poltrona del salotto. Era assulutamente indifferente, pareva si trovasse nella sala d'aspetto di una stazione in attesa del treno", 40; "pareva imbarsamata", 41) until Montalbano confronts her with the truth and she finally breaks down and confesses to her husband's murder.

In the novel, Mrs. Lapecora has four interactions with Montalbano, two of which are quite lengthy: the reenactment of the morning of her husband's murder, and the scene of her arrest and subsequent confession. The third scene is when she is informed of her husband's death by Montalbano, while the forth is a very short telephone conversation with Montalbano. In the television episode, Mrs. Lapecora is a dark-haired, good-looking and well-dressed middle-aged woman who appears strong, self-assured and somewhat cunning. She is featured in two scenes: one where she is informed of her husband's death, and another when she is arrested and then confesses to the murder. She is also heard in a very brief phone conversation with Montalbano.

Clementina Vasile-Cozzo. Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo, who Montalbano likes and respects very much, is a recurring character in Montalbano's novels. In fact, in several occasions she helps Montalbano in his investigations, sometimes even performing somewhat 'unorthodox' actions. She is a widow, a retired elementary teacher confined to a wheelchair, who lives by herself in a spotless apartment (60), and shares Montalbano's love for good, traditional Sicilian food and a hearty appetite (62-63). In the novel, she is presented as "una settantenne molto ben vestita. Stava su una sedia a rotelle" (60), and she and Montalbano have four interactions: three telephone conversations and one meeting in her apartment. In the television episode, she is a rather elegant old lady, adorned with a classic pearl necklace and earrings, her white hair worn up in a stylish bun. She appears in two scenes, a telephone conversation with Montalbano, which parallels the first appearance in the novel, and when Montalbano visits her in her apartment, which combines the other three scenes from the novel.

Signora Piccirillo and her daughter Luigina. Mrs. Piccirillo is a middle-aged widow who lives with her single ("schetta", 26) daughter Luigina in the same building as the Lapecoras. In the novel, she is presented as a "fimmina [...] cinquantina distinta" (26) and appears only once when Montalbano calls at her door to ask her some questions about Mr. Lapecora. When she opens the door, she looks "chiaramente agitata, nirbUsa" (26) and lets Montalbano inside "con malaccrianza" (26) because she has something to hide, namely the fact that she and her daughter had seen Lapecora's body in the elevator before he was discovered but had taken no action. In the television scene, which corresponds quite closely to the scene in the novel, she looks to be in her late forties to early fifties, her black hair is somewhat disheveled and she wears a loose silk dressing gown that reveals a lacey black slip. Also, in contrast to the novel, in the television scene, she does not seem to care about her appearance and moves around nonchalantly. She first opens the door of her apartment when she hears Montalbano ringing the doorbell of another apartment on the same floor but closes it immediately and is visibly reluctant to open her door again when Montalbano calls at her door. She immediately takes on a defiant, defensive, uncooperative, and somewhat dismissive attitude because she is hiding the fact that she and her daughter did nothing when they saw Mr. Lapecora's dead body in the elevator.

In the novel, Mrs. Piccirillo's daughter Luigina is described as "una ragazza poco piu che ventenne, in jeans. Carina, ma pallidissima, letteralmente terrorizzata" (26). In the television episode, she looks quite young and pretty (in a very 'Southern', Sicilian way), bears a shy, somewhat tense and distressed expression though she is more cooperative than her mother. She has a highly marginal role and only speaks two very short lines, both in the novel and in the television episode.

A mother. One of the mothers who have gathered in front of an elementary school and are reporting loudly and vehemently the latest strike of the snack thief to a municipal police officer. In the novel, she utters only one sentence (96) and no (physical) description of her is provided, she is simply "una madre" who urges Montalbano to look at her son's swollen eyes due to the snack thief's " cazzotti." In the television episode, she looks fairly young (in her late twenties, early thirties at most) and nice-looking (but not truly beautiful) and utters an abridged version of the sentence she speaks in the novel.

Female Characters Present Only in the Novel

Signora Cosentino. Mrs. Cosentino is the wife of Giuseppe Cosentino, the night security guard who finds Mr. Lapecora's dead body in the elevator of the building where they live. She is probably in her late forties to early fifties and is presented as "festosa [...], una palla baffuta d'irresistibile simpatia" (20). She has a brief interaction with Montalbano who visits her in their apartment to inquire about her relationship with the Lapecoras.

Gaetana Pinna. Mrs. Pinna is "una donna sulla cinquantina, le gambe parevano tronchi d'albero", who "[s]offiava dalle nasche come un toro infuriato" (17). Giuseppe Cosentino describes her to Montalbano as "una fimmina terribile. [...] non passa giorno che non attacca lite con la mia signora" (17) and complains that "si mette a fare piu catUnio" (18), especially when he needs to sleep after work. She is overtly rude and cantankerous, appears totally untouched by the fact that one of her neighbors has been found dead, evidently murdered, and only seems worried about not being able to use the elevator ("Pirchi ora mi devo fare sei piani di scale a piedi. Quanno ve lo portate il morto?", 18). Overall, then, she is portrayed as the stereotypical middle-aged moglie petulante (her husband scolds her for being rude to Montalbano, "Non fare la vastasa!", 22), and appears in two brief scenes to answer Montalbano's questions about Mr. Lapecora and what she saw the morning of the murder.

Signora Gulisano. Mrs. Gulisano is a "giovane signora [...], trentina, molto bella ma trasandata, ariata complice" (23-24), who also lives in the building. She appears in one scene only, when Montalbano goes to her apartment to ask her a few questions about Mr. Lapecora.

Signora Gullotta. Mrs. Gullotta is another tenant in the building. No description of her is given in the novel but, given that her son "poteva avere massimo quattro anni" (24), we can infer that she is in her thirties. Also, we are informed that "non aveva niente da spartire con la mammina della porta allato" (25). Indeed, she is quite abrupt and sounds rather impatient and angry; she slaps her child who had attempted to fire a water-gun at Montalbano, then takes the gun and throws it ("la scaraventa", 25) out the window. While Montalbano interviews her, she just keeps complaining about her husband, who is never at home and does not care about the family ("Quello se ne sta fora di casa e se ne fotte", 25).

Ernestina Pipia. Mrs. Pipia is a widow, probably middle-aged, who rented a room (catojo) to a Tunisian sailor who is actually a terrorist. When Montalbano interviews her, she is eager to clarify that she is not an "affittacammari di professione" (129), and she is honest and more than willing to cooperate: "e che bisogno c'era del coso, quello li, il mannato di piricquisizione? Bastava apprisentarsi [...] e lei non avrebbe fatto quistione. La quistione la fa chi ha qualichicosa d'ammucciare" but "lei aveva avuto e continuava ad avere una vita trasparenti come l'aria" (129). She is extremely loquacious, openly racist ("mai e poi mai lei avrebbe affittato la cammara a un africano", 129) and, most of all, greedy given that she did indeed rent the catojo to an African but, of course, only because he seemed " [d]istinto, [...], un vero omo d'educazione fina, come non se ne trovano piu manco tra i mazaresi" (129). She is completely candid about having asked for very high rent expecting to have to bargain, but the Tunisian accepted the proposed sum without questions. She is also very nosy, and she expects Montalbano and his colleague to take her along when they go carry out a search of the catojo.

Data and Methodology

My primary data from the novel comprises all the utterances of the ten female characters taken into consideration. In addition, parts of the speech of other interlocutors involved in the interactions and the narrator's voice (i.e., the language used to present the characters) have been taken into account when relevant for the depiction of the characters. Given the lack of a standardized orthography for Sicilian, the data from the television episode were transcribed using standard Italian orthography; that is, I overall adopted the "(orto)grafia funzionale fonetica" proposed in Alfonzetti et al. (2013: 95), restricting narrow transcription to items that include graphemes with double/multiple phonetic value (e.g., <s>: voiceless <spacu> ['spaku] vs. voiced <smania> ['zmanja], <e> [e] and [E], <o> [o] and [c]). In addition, annotations were made about pronunciation and intonation, and notes were made on the demeanor of the characters. Social class, age and, when available, level of education and physical appearance were also recorded, and notes were taken on the context of the speech acts.

The phonological, morphological and morphosyntactic features of Sicilian on which I focused my analysis are drawn primarily from Alfonzetti et al. (2013), Matranga and Sottile (2013), and Bigalke (1997). The Sicilian features in (l)-(3) were selected a priori as a starting point of my analysis, since being pan-Sicilian features they can be considered highly representative markers of dialectality. However, additional features were taken into consideration as they emerged from the data and will be pointed out later in the article when I present my results.

1) Phonology

a. Tonic vowels--Sic. &lt;i&gt; (pisci) vs. It. <e> pesce); Sic. <u> (furnu) vs. It. <o> (forno).

b. Monophthongs vs. diphthongs--Sic. <o> [c] (core), <e> [E] (cammarera) vs. It. <uo> (cuore), <ie> (cameriera).

c. Consonants

i) Betacism--Sic. <v> (vucca) vs. It. &lt;b&gt; (bocca).

ii) Rhotacism--Sic. <r> (urtimo) vs. It. <l> (ultimo).

iii) Regressive assimilation--Sic. <mm> (gamma), <nn> (imunnu) vs. It. <mb> (gamba), <nd> (mondo).

iv) Gemination--Sic. <mm> (cammara), <rr> (carrico) vs. It. <m> (camera), <r> (carico).

v) Degemination--Sic. <t> (matina) vs. It. <tt> (mattina).

vi) Palatalization--Sic. <c> [t] (pacienza) vs. It. <z> [ts] (pazienza); Sic. <gg> [dz:] (seggia) vs. It. <d> (sedia).

vii) Retroflex--Sic. &lt;tr&gt; [t] (patri) vs. It. <dr> (padre); Sic. <dd> [d:] (beddu) vs. It. <ll> (bello).

2) Morphology

a. Determiners

i) Gefinite articles--Sic. u/lu picciotti, li picciotti vs. It. il ragazzo, i ragazzi; Sic. a picciotta, i/li picciotti vs. It. la ragazza, le ragazze.

ii) Indefinite articles--nu picciottu, 'n/n armala vs. It. un ragazzo, un animale; Sic. na picciotta vs. It. una ragazza.

iii) Demonstratives--Sic. stu/chistu/chiddu vs. It. questo/ quello.

iv) Possessive--Sic. mi, me/to/so patri/matri vs. It. mio/tuo/ suo padre, mia/tua/sua madre.

b. Atonie pronouns

i) Indirect object--third person Sic. ci vs. It. gli; first person plural Sic. (n)ni vs. It. ci.

ii) Direct object--lu/u, a, li vs. It. lo, la, li, le.

3) Morphosyntax

a. Prepositional accusative--Sic. vidi a n omo vs. It. Ho visto un uomo.

b. Auxiliary selection--Sic. avia manciata, avia partati vs. It. aveva mangiato, era partito/a.

c. Tense and mood

i) Sic. passato remoto vs. It. passato prossimo.

ii) Sic. imperfect indicative (mi pariva ca mi fucava) vs. It. imperfect subjunctive (credevo che mi strozzasse).

iii) Sic. progressive periphrasis stari a + infinitive (sta a babbiari) vs. It. stare + gerund (sta scherzando).

iv) Sic. aviri a + infinitive to express deontic modality and/ or future tense (me patri avi a vveniri dumani 'my father has to/will come tomorrow')

As for the lexicon, I distinguished the three groups in (4):

4) a. 'Authentic' Sicilian items, that is, lexical items that are assumed to not be recognizable to non-Sicilian speakers (e.g., accutufari vs. It. ammaccare; luffaria vs. It. pigrizia).

b. Sicilian items that are likely to be recognizable to non-Sicilian speakers (e.g., linzolo vs. It. lenzuolo; murmuriari vs. It. mormorare; addivintari vs. It. diventare, arrispunniri vs. It. rispondere).

c. A 'core' Sicilian lexicon comprised of items that, basically, have acquired a fixed status in Camilleri's work (e.g., babbiari, macari, nesciri, taliari, tanticchia, trasiri, spiari; cf. Novelli 2002) and, therefore, are assumed to be well familiar to readers, as well as items included in the glossary of Un filo di fumo (125-136), Il gioco della mosca, and in the dictionary available on Camilleri Fans Club website. (8)

I take the items in (4a) to be the most significant markers of dialectality while I regard those in (4c) the least significant.

The examples provided above in (1)-(4) to illustrate the features selected for this study clearly show that co-occurrence of multiple features in one single item is far from uncommon. For example, the word picciotteddu should be tagged for phonology (<dd> and final <u>) but also for lexicon and, possibly, morphology (in that it is modified by the evaluative suffix -eddu); and verbs like addivintari or arrispunniri, in addition to phonology (high vowels &lt;i&gt; and <u>), could also be tagged for morphology since they display aC- (< Latin ad-) prefixation, which is a distinctive pan-Sicilian feature (Alfonzetti et al. 2013: 122; Bigalke 1997: 80). The type of corpus-based research I conducted, then, required an 'intelligent' recognition capacity and the key data had to be collected by manual search because no automatic coding and corpus search software are available that can simultaneously identify and discriminate interconnected layers of grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary. Therefore, my analysis has to remain primarily qualitative, although some general (approximate) quantitative observations will be put forward occasionally since they emerge evidently from the data.


I will start to present my results for the characters in both the novel and television episode. Signora. Lapecora. Mrs. Lapecora has four interactions Montalbano. One is a very brief phone conversation (only one line each, 48) in which no Sicilian features are found in her speech; the other three are considerably longer, in particular the one when Montalbano asks her to re-enact everything she did before leaving the house on the morning of her husband's murder (84-88), and the scene of her arrest and subsequent confession (186-191). The Sicilian features observed in Mrs. Lapecora's speech in the novel are summarized in (5):

5) Mrs. Lapecora: novel (39, 41, 42-44, 46, 84-88, 186-191)

a) Phonology

i) Vowels, tonic (sira, sapiri, pirchi, fimmina; profunno) (9) and atonic (pinsero, pinsari, nenti, vidiri, poviro; comu), primarily front.

ii) Monophthongs (pinsero, nenti, but also niente).

iii) Gemination (cammisa, cammara) and degemination matinata, matina, stamatina, cafe).

iv) Voicing (buttana).

v) Regressive assimilation (profunno, quanno, gratini).

vi) De-affrication (Jorna, jornata).

vii) Rhotacism (quarchiduno).

viii) Palatalization (seggia)

b. Morphology

i) Possessive (me' marito).

ii) Demonstrative and feminine plural in -i (sti cosi).

iii) Masculine plural in -a (vistita, jorna).

iv) Preposition di (instead of da) in cammisa di notte and cammara di mangiare

c. Morphosyntax

i) Prevalent use of passato remoto and only few occurrences of passato prossimo (with 'proper' auxiliary selection: sono trasUta, ho ammazzato).

ii) Imperfect indicative with exhortative function (s'assittasse, taliasse, mi scusasse).

iii) Prepositional accusative (comu a una latra).

d. Lexicon--The only notable items are accucchiarci (It. entrarci) and scagno (It. ufficio, also scrivania); the latter, although listed in the online dictionary, is not a recurrent word in Camilleri's works. All other lexical items are either recognizable (e.g., s'arriposava, m'arrispondeva, acuissi, chiacchiariare, abbrusciai, rapriva, mogliere, ammazzatina, arrifriddato) or belong to the Camilleri's 'core' lexicon (tanticchia, spiavo, taliare, fitinzie, trasiva, nisciva, macari, babbia).

In addition, word order appears to be relevant with a preference for verbs occuring in sentence-final position (e li stava, Nenti mi disse, Cosi e, cosi feci). Regarding phonology, some discrepancy is noticeable between the realization of atonic vowels: while front vowels are (almost) consistently realized as Sicilian, back vowels are not (e.g., pinsero not pinseru; profunno not prufunnu).

In summary, in the novel, Sicilian does not appear to display a sizable presence in Mrs. Lapecora's speech and does not hinder comprehensibility.

In the television episode, Mrs. Lapecora appears in two scenes, which correspond to scene 1 and 3 of the novel, and in a brief phone call where she speaks in Standard Italian. The results for the first scene and a section of the second scene are given in (6). The remaining section of the second scene is examined separately through a close comparison with corresponding excerpts from the novel, shown in Table 4.1 below.

6) Mrs. Lapecora: TV episode, scenes 1 (mm. 19:04-22:15) and 2 (mm. 1:24:50-1:26:38)

a. Phonology

i) Vowels

--tonic (ficiro, littere, pi vvidiri);

--atonic (ficiro, widiri), but often realized as indistinct (tun[e]sina, s[e]tt[e]mana, anon[e]me, nent[e]), and one instance of paragoge (film[e]);

--monophthong (n[e]nte, bb[c]le).

ii) Retroflex (strangolato, dda, iddu, chiddu.

iii) Regressive assimilation (ammazzallo, apetta, pottanza).

iv) Gemination (luneddi, mercoleddi) and extensive raddoppiamento fonosintattico (una ttunesina, diggiorno, chi bbole, pi vvidiri, i bbruciai, tre wo Ite, una ddelinquente).

v) Affrication (conzervo [kcn'dzervo]).

b. Morphology

i) Definite articles (dda, i pulizii) and demonstrative (chiddu).

ii) Feminine plural in -i (i pulizii).

iii) Pronouns

--third person indirect (Ci spararono?, Ce l'ha detto);

--direct object (i bruciai, u bruciai);

--third singular subject (iddu).

iv) Verbal moprhology (j[e]va, saccio, sapi, dorm[e]va, avate).

The incidence of Sicilian is considerable especially at the phonological and morphological levels: Mrs. Lapecora speaks with a heavy, distinct Sicilian accent (very open mid vowels, retroflex consonants, pervasive consonant doubling) and uses numerous dialectal morphological features. Worthy of notice are also several instances of passato prossimo (with 'Italian' auxiliary selection, e.g., E andato in ufficio, mi sono arrivate). As for the lexicon, we observe the adjective tinta, which is not included in the online dictionary nor in the glossaries but has a high frequency of occurrence in Camilleri's works. Moreover, Italian ufficio has replaced Sicilian scagno.

The data in Table 1 clearly indicate that Sicilian prevails over Italian. In addition to the features noted above in (6), we note apheresis ('mbazzito, 'nda 'in + definite article dda), ca as conjunction and relative and the interrogative relative cu (Ca cettu, cu e ca [t]a cuntau); the pronoun mmia; and inverted order of clitic pronouns (si cci pigliava).

To conclude, in the television episode the presence of Sicilian in Mrs. Lapecora's speech is considerably more extensive than in the novel, in particular at the phonological and morphological levels. The lexicon, on the other hand, is overall Italian (in addition to ufficio vs. scagno, see also the use of iri (mi iv'u sangu alia testa) vs. acchianari (M acchiano il sangue alla testa), and Pazzo nisci?, with Sicilian nesciri in sentence final position vs. the 'Italian' Ma ch'e 'mbazzitol).

Clementina Vasile-Cozzo. In the novel, Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo and Montalbano have four interactions: three times over the telephone (57-58; 78-79; 91-92) and one time in person when Montalbano visits her in her apartment (60-63). As shown in (7), Sicilian is minimally present in Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo's speech

7) Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo, novel

a. Phonology (cammarera, milanzane).

b. Morphology and morphosyntax (first person singular pronoun mia and prepositional accusative: accudisce a mia e alla casa).

c. Lexicon (strucciolera, m'ammiscassi).

The most relevant dialectal feature is the prepositional accusative with the Sicilian form of the pronoun mia. Regarding the lexicon, we note that the word strucciolera, although it is indeed included in the online dictionary, does not have a high frequency in Camilleri's production; however, it is explained overtly in the immediately following context (una che passa il tempo a taliare quello che fatinogli altri, 60). The only item that does not belong to the 'core' Sicilian lexicon is ammiscarsi, but, just like strucciolera, it is glossed (non voleva che m'ammiscassi, m'intromettessi in cose che, secondo lui, non mi riguardano, 61). Lastly, worthy of notice is also the exclusive use of passato prossimo. Overall, then, Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo expresses herself in Standard Italian.

In the television episode, Sicilian is basically absent in Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo's speech. In the two scenes in which she appears (mm. 34:53-35:22, mm. 35:30-37:06), her pronunciation is impeccably standard with no trace of dialectal/regional inflection and, overall, she speaks in rather formal Italian. The only trace of Sicilian is the word femmina (not fimmina), which, however, occurs in close proximity to donna, an extremely infrequent item in Camilleri's writings (Quella era una donna pericolosa commissario, e il signor Lapecora era completamente stregato da quella femmina). Also in regards to the lexicon, we note that scagno has become ufficio, and that she uses giovanotto instead of the 'standard' picciotto.

Signora Piccirillo. In the novel, Mrs. Piccirillo has only one interaction with Montalbano who calls at her door to ask her and her daughter some questions about Mr. Lapecora (26-27). Only a handful of Sicilian features are present in her speech, which are given in (8).

8) Mrs. Piccirillo, novel

a. Phonology

i) Front vowels, tonic and atonic (dilicata, poviro).

ii) Apheresis ('n terra, 'mbriaco).

b. Morphology (exclusive use of passato remoto).

In addition to the few phonological traits and the exclusive use of passato remoto, it is worth noting two instances of sentencefinal verb (Niente sappiamo, La verita le dissi!). Regarding the lexicon, the only item that neither belongs to the 'core' Sicilian lexicon nor is identifiable is schetta which, however, is glossed (e schetta, non e maritata).

In the television episode, Mrs. Piccirillo is featured in only one scene, which mirrors quite closely the scene in the novel. The Sicilian features present in her speech are given in (9).

9) Mrs. Piccirillo, television episode (mm. 8:49-11:30).

a. Phonology

i) Front and back vowels (picche, 'mbriacu, in).

ii) Monophthong (veni, cinco) and diphthong (autro).

iii) Apheresis ('n derra, 'mbriacu).

iv) Regressive assimilation (potta, i ppovero, i bbisogno, pe bbene).

v) Gemination (subbito) and raddoppiamento (va bbene, co nnoi).

vi) Voicing ('n derra).

vii) Retroflex (picciridda, antro); and also voiccd palatal fricative in figlia [fijja]).

b. Morphology

i) Possessive adjective (me fija).

ii) Pronouns (me parse, u viste).

iii) Definite articles (a potta, l'otto vs. It. le otto).

iv) Adverb (veni 'cca).

v) Conjunction (antro ca 'mbriacu).

c. Morphosyntax (consistent use of passato remoto, with only one occurrence of passato prossimo: noi non abbiamo fatto niente!).

As the data in (9) show, in Mrs. Piccirillo's speech Sicilian features primarily at the phonological level (also attested by her pronunciation of tonic <e> and <o> as very open), as well as at the morphological and morphosyntactic ones.

Luigina Piccirillo. Mrs. Piccirillo's daughter, Luigina, makes a very marginal appearance in both the novel and the television episode, uttering only a couple of brief lines, given in (10) and (11).

10) Luigina, novel

a. Non abbiamo fatto niente di male (26).

b. Basta! Basta, marna! Digli tutto! Diglielo! (27).

11) Luigina, television episode

a. Basta mamma! Diglielo, digli tutto! (mm. 9:50-11:02).

b. Non volevamo finire sulla bocca di tutti (mm. 9:50-11:02).

In the novel, the only trace of Sicilian in Luigina's speech is the form mama, while in the television episode she speaks in Italian with a light Sicilian accent that transpires primarily in the pronunciation of the word bocca with a very open <o> (['bckka]).

Young mother. In both the novel and the television episode there is one scene in which a group of mothers nearby an elementary school are reporting rowdily the snack thief's latest raid to a municipal police officer. One of them utters one brief line in both the novel and the television episode, reported in (12a) and (12b) respectively.

12) Young mother

a. Taliasse cca, taliasse cca. Me' figlio non ci voleva dari la frittatina e lui botte ci desi. Male ci fici! (96).

b. Commissa', commissario, taliasse cca, mali ci fici! (mm. 32:51-32:55).

The data in (12a) show that the young mother's speech in the novel is permeated with dialectal features. For the phonology, we note realization of mid front vowels as [i] (dari, fici but also male). As for the morphological and morphosyntactic levels, we observe the possessive me', the Sicilian verb form desi, the third person indirect object pronoun ci, and imperfect subjunctive forms with exhortative function (taliasse). Finally, verbs appear in sentencefinal position (botte ci desi, Male ci fici!). As for the television episode, she speaks entirely in Sicilian (even male becomes mali).

Signora Cosentino. Mrs. Cosentino, the plump, joyful and affable wife of the night guard Giuseppe Cosentino, appears only in the novel, where she has a brief interaction with Montalbano when he goes to her apartment to ask if she had gone out that morning, and if she knew the Lapecoras and what she thought of them. As shown in (13), the presence of Sicilian in her speech is not remarkable; it amounts to a few phonological features, the use of the imperfect subjunctive with formal exhortative, and a handful of 'expected' lexical items.

13) Mrs. Cosentino (20-21)

a. Phonology

i) Vowels, tonic and atonic (ascensori, pirsUna).

ii) Regressive assimilation (quanno).

iii) Degemination (cafe).

b. Morphology--imperfect subjunctive as exhortative (s'accomodasse).

It is also worth noting her use of the past subjunctive rather than the more informal present indicative (Non nescio mai prima che sia tomato Pepe), as well an instance of passato prossimo with the 'Italian' auxiliary (Non ti sei pohito arriposare).

Gaetana Pinna. As shown in (14), the speech of the rude, peevish Mrs. Pinna is interspersed with Sicilian features from all levels, with lexical features being, once again, the least significant since none of the Sicilian words she uses appear to be unidentifiable (suffirenzia, nesciri, casamento, vastasazzi, catafero, acchianare).

14) Mrs. Pinna (17-18; 22-23).

a. Phonology

i) Front and back vowels both tonic and atonic (spisa, pirchi, pirsUna, spissu, coma, quarchiduno, vabbeni).

ii) Monophthongs (nenti, omo, pedi but also one occurrence of piedi).

iii) Regressive assimilation (quanno).

iv) Raddoppiamento morfosintattico (vabbeni).

v) Apheresis ('ntipatico).

vi) Rhotacism (quarchiduno).

vii) Palatal realization of [f] (sciato vs. It fiato).

b. Morphology

i) Pronouns (a mia, ci).

ii) Verb forms (scinnii, vitti).

c. Morphosyntax--exclusive use of passato remoto

In addition to the features in (14), we notice verbs in sentencefinal position (La spisa feci!, Nenti ho da dire).

Signora Gnlisano. No traces of Sicilian are found in Mrs. Gulisano's speech who in her brief conversation with Montalbano (23-24) speaks in standard, somewhat affected Italian; for instance, she uses the verb discorrere rather than parlare or chiacchierare, the preposition da instead of the more common di in Non sono ancora uscita da casa, and bambino, which is quite rare (indeed practically absent) in Camilleri's works where picciliddo rules.

Signora Gullotta. Impatient and grumpy Mrs. Gullotta has a brief interaction with Montalbano (25) when he visits her to ask if she had seen Mr. Lapecora that morning before he was found dead in the elevator. The Sicilian features found in her speech are given in (15).

15) Mrs. Gullotta

a. Phonology

i) Front and back vowels, both stressed and unstressed (bonasira, pisci, sira, beatu).

ii) Monophthongs (fora, bongiorno, bonasira).

iii) Degemination (matina).

b. Morphosyntax

i) Prepositional accusative (a Lapecora).

ii) Exclusive use of passato remoto.

In addition to the 'usual' Sicilian realization of mid vowels, Mrs. Gullotta's speech is characterized by the prepositional accusative and the exclusive use of passato remoto. As for the lexicon, no significant item is observed (camurria, accatta, abbadare, si siisi). Worthy of notice is the use of past conditional (quando avrebbe potuto farlo?), which is a mark of 'proper' standard Italian, rather than the more informal imperfect indicative (quando lo poteva fare/ quando lo faceva).

Ernestina Pipia. Mrs. Pipia, the loquacious widow who had rented a room (catojo) to the supposed Tunisian sailor, has a rather brief interaction with Montalbano and his colleague, vicequestore Vitale, who question her about her tenant (129-130). The Sicilian features observed in her direct speech are illustrated in (16).

16) Mrs. Pipia

a. Phonology

i) Tonic and atonic front vowels (pricisi, pagan, misi, sg., sapiti, imbed, priparo) and monophthong (deci).

ii) De-affrication (jorna) and affrication (panza).

iii) Betacism (imbeci).

b. Morphology--masculine plural in -a (jorna).

c. Lexicon--narre', pattiano, chissaccio, sacchetta, catojo, none of which is of particular relevance.

In addition, a few regionalisms/low-register, popular Italian features (Berruto 2004) can be observed, namely the use of cercare for chiedere and cavare for tirare fuori, estrarre, and the malapropism il lastrico for elastico.

Further details on Mrs. Pipia's language are evinced from the excerpt of reported speech cited in (17), in which she tells Montalbano and Vitale about herself and what happened with the Tunisian.

17) La signora Pipia Ernestina vedova Locicero ci tenne a precisare che non faceva l'affittacammari di professione. Possedeva, lasciatole dalla bonarma, un catojo, una cameretta a piano terra che una volta era stata una putia di varberi, come si dice, salone da barba. Si dice accussi, ma salone non era, del resto i signori tra poco l'avrebbero visto e che bisogno c'era del coso, quello li, il mannato di piricquisizione? Bastava apprisentarsi, dire: signora Pipia cosi e cosi e lei non avrebbe fatto quistioni. La quistione la fa chi ha qualichicosa d'ammucciare, da nascondere, ma lei, tutti a Mazara potevano tistimoniarlo, hitti quelli che non erano cornuti o figli di buttana, lei aveva avuto e continuava ad avere avere una vita trasparenti come l'aria. Com'era il poviro tunisino? Taliassero, signori, mai e poi mai lei avrebbe affittato la cammara a un africano, tanto a quelli nivuri come Tinca quanto a quelli che di pelli non faceva differenzia con un mazarese. Nenti, l'africano le faceva impressioni. Perche l'aveva affittata a Ben Dliahab? Distinto, signori miei, un vero omo d'educazione fina, come non se ne trovano piu manco tra i mazaresi. Sissignore, parlava taliano o almeno si faceva accapire bastevolmente. Le aveva fatto vidiri il passaporto ... [...] Sissignore, passaporto. Regolare. Era scritto come scrivono gli arabi e c'erano macari paroli scritte in una lingua stranea. Ingrisi? Frangisi? Boli. La fotografia corrispondeva. E se proprio proprio i signori ci tenevano a saperlo, lei aveva fatto regolari addenunzia d'affitto, come voli la liggi (129-130).

At the phonological level, concerning vocalism, besides the usual realization of [e] as [i] (piricquisizione, apprisentarsi, quistione, qualichicosa, tistimoniarlo, trasparenti, poviro, pelli, imprissioni, vidiri, Ingrisi, Frangisi, regolari, voli, liggi), we note [e] realized as [a] (affittacammari, cammara), monophthongs (Nenti, omo), and two instances of epenthetic &lt;i&gt; (piricquisizione, qualichicosa). As for consonant features, we find regressive assimilation (mannato di piricquisizione) and gemination (affittacammari, cammara), voicing (buttana, Frangisi), and rhoticism (Ingrisi). Finally, for the lexicon the following items are found: bonarma, putia di varberi, ammucciare, nivuri, inca, differenzia, fina, accapire bastevolmente, macari, stranea, addenunzia; of these the only two that might be 'problematic' are putia di varberi and ammucciari, both of which, however, are glossed (come si dice, salone da barba and da nascondere).


As pointed out in the introduction, Camilleri's use of Sicilian vis-avis Italian has been attributed a range of functionality Santulli (2010: 36), for instance, proposes that the alternation between Italian and dialect is inseparably linked to context and communicative situation, and that the choice of one language over the other depends on the interlocutors' personality traits but also serves as "espressione di uno stato d'animo o il risultato di un ragionato intento comunicativo" (39). More specifically, she maintains that the dialect reflects a more authentic, more truthful mode of expression: Sicilian is the language in which one cannot lie and, therefore, it can be intimidating but create solidarity as well (59). Sicilian, then, pertains to a more private, more intimate domain because it establishes closeness and complicity; however, it also relates to fear and thus can bring about distance and separation. Furthermore, Sicilian has been identified as a distinctive feature of the speech of lower class characters and mafiosi by Vizmuller-Zocco (n.d.) who also notes two other main contexts of use for the dialect, namely proverbs and formule magiche, which are, of course, closely related to lower social class and 'truthfulness.' In contrast, (standard) Italian, particularly in the Montalbano series, features more frequently and more manifestly in the sphere of the law, dello stato, which is viewed as distant and detached from the local and everyday reality (Santulli 2010: 63), and for Montalbano (bureaucratic) Italian is indeed the language of simulation and deceit, "una mossa di teatro" (65). Moreover, Italian can also signal anger and indignation as Camilleri himself reveals in Il campo del vasaio writing "quanno Mimi era arraggiato assa parlava in taliano" (259, cited by Santulli 2010: 53).

These observations about the range of functionality fulfilled by Sicilian in Camilleri's writings are overall corroborated by the linguistic behavior of the female characters examined in this study. I propose that in terms of its situational use as a function of different topics, characters and settings, Sicilian primarily indexes (a) high emotional, most typically negative, involvement and (b) (stereo)typical traits of (Sicilian/Southern Italian) women, which I delineate and discuss in the following section, comparing the novel and the television episode. Next, I address the situational use(s) of Italian; I then conclude with some remarks on the relevance that sociolinguistic factors, namely the effect age, social class, and level of education may have for the characterizing use of the two languages.

Sicilian as Index of State of Mind and Emotional Involvement

In the novel, evidence for Sicilian as marker of states of mind related to high emotional involvement, especially resentment, anger, and defensiveness, comes from the language of Mrs. Lapecora, Mrs. Piccirillo, Mrs. Gullotta and the young mother. As seen above, in the novel, Sicilian is not particularly prominent in Mrs. Lapecora's speech. Nonetheless, a closer examination of the distribution and concentration of dialectal features in her speech allows to identify some connoting functions attributable to the dialect. First, Sicilian appears to convey resentment/jealousy, anger and scorn, as shown by the excerpt in (18), from the scene in which Mrs. Lapecora tells Montalbano about the anonymous letters she had received informing her about her husband's affair, and the one in (19), when Montalbano, who has found out that she is the murderer, has her taken to the police station to face her with his discovery.

18) MON: Me le puo far vedere?

STG.RA LP: Le abbrusciai. Non conservo fitinzie.

MON: Ha avuto modo di avere ... riscontri?

SIG.RA LP: Se m'appostai per vidiri quanno quella troia trasiva e nisciva dallo scagno di me' marito?

MON: Anche.

SIG.RA LP: Non m'abbasso a fare sti cosi. Ma ebbi lo stesso modo. Un fazzoletto lordo. (46)

19) Conni a una latra! Conni a una latra mi state trattando!--esplose la vedova appena in presenza del commissario. (186)

In (18), the Sicilian items cluster in the expression of the anonymous letters (fitinzie), which she has burned (le abbrusciai), and indecorous behaviors, sti cosi, which refers to the chance that she might have gone spying around her husband's office to see his lover (i.e., the troia) going in (trasire) and out (niscire) of the building. In (19), she uses Sicilian (Comu a una latra!) to vent about her indignation and irritation at the way she has been treated. Another instance of Sicilian conveying emotional involvement that also reveals Mrs. Lapecora's true nature is the following:

20) Taliasse, commissario. Arelio manco due jorna ch'e morto e io comincio a pagare gia i debiti dei porci comodazzi suoi. Aieri m'arrivarono qua--[...]--due bollette dell'ufficio: la luce, duecentoventimila lire e il telefono trecentottantamila lire! Ma non era lui che telefonava, sa? A chi aveva da telefonare? Era quella battana tunisina che telefonava, sicuro, macari ai parenti suoi in Tunisia. E stamattina m'e arrivata questa. Va a sapiri che gli aveva messo in testa quella grandissima troia che praticava e quello stronzo di me' marito la stava a sentiri! (88).

Sicilian, however, does not seem to be the language of truth for Mrs. Lapecora; on the contrary, it appears that she can lie very well in Italian, as shown in (21) where she accuses Karima to be the murderer:

21) Chi e stato, commissario? La sua amante. Si chiama Karima col cappa. Una tunisina. S'incontravano allo scagno, il lunedi, il mercoledi e il venerdi. La battana ci andava con la scusa di dover fare le pulizie (42-44).

The only Sicilian feature in (22) is the word battana referring to her husband's lover, which is again attributable to jealousy and anger. In this respect, it may be worth noting that Montalbano lies in Italian as well, although it is plausible that he uses Italian because "sta facendo teatro" and also, perhaps, to express contempt:

22) E chi ha mai parlato d'arresto? Si accomodi, signora, e le chiedo scusa per lo spiacevole equivoco. La tratterro solo pochi minuti, il tempo necessario a verbalizzare alcune sue risposte. Poi se ne torna a casa ed e tutto finito (187).

The examples in (23) and (24) provide evidence for Sicilian as a marker of defensiveness and confrontational attitude.

23) Ma che ci accucchia tutto questo con l'ammazzatimi d'Arelio? (85).

24) a. Pazzo nisci? (188).

b. Pirchi, secondo lei, io non sono trasiita nello studio e non ho per prima cosa ammazzato questa fimmina? (190).

c. Mi scusasse, ma dato che lei non era prisente, questa bella storia chi gliela conto? (190).

The utterance in (23) comes from the re-enacted scene Mrs. Lapecora is obliging to on Montalbano's request; she shrewdly asks Montalbano what all this has to do (che ci accucchia) with her husband's murder (l'ammazzatina d'Arelio?), even though she, of course, knows. The utterances in (24), on the other hand, come from the final scene at the police station, when Montalbano finally accuses Mrs. Lapecora of her husband's murder, to which she bursts out at the accusation (Pazzo nisci?) and becomes defensive, asking Montalbano why she had not killed Karima instead and how he would know what happened given that he was not prisente. The same scenario emerges (and even more sharply) from the television episode, in which Mrs. Lapecora's use of Sicilian clearly peaks out when she talks about the anonymous letters (25a), the soiled handkerchief (25b), Karima (25c), when she gets defensive and confrontational (26), and, finally, during her confession when she bursts out in rage, also revealing her greed (27).

25) a. I bbruciai. Io non ne conzervo di queste fetenzie.

b. U bbruciai, pure chiddu.

c. dda finunina nivora

26) a. Mi levassi una curiosita: i ssecondo lei picchi io n'ave ammazzato subbito dda fimmena?

b. Mi scusasse, ma dato che lei non era presente, a lei tutta questa bella storia cu e ca ta cuntau?

27) S'a meritava, a morte ca feci; s'a voleva spassare entu me lettu co dda puttana!; N'e fazzo 'ste cose iti! A minia mi iv'u sangu alla testa appena capii che s'a purtava a casa mia s'a purtava, 'nda mi casa.; Commissario, treccento milioni! Treccento milioni a dda grandissima troia! Se non lo fermavo, tutte cose si cci pigliava! Chiddu era capaci, ca si faceva mandare macari a casa, a mi casa ... trecento milioni! Treccento milioni pi mia troia! Malidittu, tutto malidittu.

In summary, concerning Mrs. Lapecora, Sicilian serves primarily to denote emotionally charged negative situations, topics and attitudes, and to bring to light Mrs. Lapecora's negative personal traits.

In the case of Mrs. Piccirillo, both in the novel and in the television episode, Sicilian features appear to cluster in when she tells Montalbano about having seen Mr. Lapecora on the floor of the elevator, assittato 'n terra, and having thought he was 'mbriaco (27) (in the episode, Potevano essere l'otto, l'otto e cinco. Apri la porta, vide il signor La Pecora assettato n'derra e si mise paura. U viste macari iu veramente, ma me parse 'mbriacu), and how her daughter who is dilicata di stomaco (27) felt disgusted by the sight (in the episode, La picciridda provo schifo e chius'a potta). Also, note that in the novel, Sicilian word order (La verita le dissi!) characterizes her indignant reaction to Montalbano's claim that she had realized that Mr. Lapecora was dead, not drunk, but ignored it because she did not want to be involved. Moreover, Sicilian is also used by the narrator to characterize Mrs. Piccirillo: La fimmina che venne ad aprire, una cinquantina distinta, era chiaramente agitata, nirbUsa (26) and Di colpo, Montalbano senti feto d'abbrusciato (26).

Finally, the emotionally charged connotation of Sicilian also emerges in the language of the young mother (see (12) above), who is talking about an event (the snack thefts) that she considers outrageous and which makes her angry, as well as in Mrs. Gullotta's language when she angrily throws away her son's water-gun (Accussi finisce sta gran camurria, 25), and when she scornfully complains about her husband who fora di casa, works [a]l mercato del pisci. Si susi alle quattro e mezzo di matina e torna alle otto di sira. E beata chi lo vede (25).

In summary, a major function of Sicilian seems to be that of characterizing (highly) emotional, overall negative contexts.

Use of Sicilian for Stereotyped Women's Traits

Sicilian indexes stereotyped traits of (Southern) women in three characters: Mrs. Cosentino, Mrs. Pinna and Mrs. Pipia. Mrs. Cosentino, who is introduced by the narrator as "una palla baffuta d'irresistibile simpatia" (20), makes a rather limited use of Sicilian which is most prominent when she asks Montalbano "L'aggradisce tanticchia di cafe?" (20). The dialect, then, appears to function as index of her cordial, 'domestic' temperament of devoted wife and attentive hostess, thus bearing a positive affective connotation.

In contrast, in the case of Mrs. Pinna and Mrs. Pipia, the use of Sicilian seems to bear a negative connotation in that it underlines unpleasant personality traits (stereo)typically attributed to women, especially middle-aged Southern ones. In the belligerent Mrs. Penna, the dialect signals irritability, impatience, uncooperativeness, as well as her coldness and selfishness (28a, b), and her dislike for Mr. Lapecora (28c).

28) a. La spisa feci!; A mia?! Nenti ho da dire, io (22).

b. Comu lo seppi? Dovevo nesciri per la spisa e chiamai l'ascensore. Nenti, non veniva. Mi feci persuasa che quarchiduno aveva lasciato la porta aperta, come spissu capita con questi vastasazzi che abitano nel casamento. Scinnii a pedi e vitti la guardia giurata che faceva la guardia al catafero. E, fatta la spisa, ho dovuto acchianare la scala a pedi, che ancora mi manca il sciato (22-23).

c. Era un omo 'ntipatico. A salutare una pirsUna ci veniva la suffirenzia (22).

In Mrs. Pipia, on the other hand, the dialect indexes racism (29a), hypochrisy and greed (29b), and care for appearances (29c).

29) a. sapiti come sono fatti gli arabi che pattiano e pattiano; Taliassero, signori, mai e poi mai lei avrebbe affittato la cammara a un africano, tanto a quelli nivuri come Vinca quanto a quelli che di pelli non faceva differenzia con un mazarese ... l'africano le faceva imprissioni (129).

b. Perche l'aveva affittata a Ben Dhahab? Distinto, signori miei, un vero omo d'educazione fina, come non se ne trovano piu manco tra i mazaresi (129).

c. e che bisogno c'era del coso, quello li, il mannato di piricquisizione? Bastava apprisentarsi, dire: signora Pipia cosi e cosi e lei non avrebbe fatto quistioni. La quistione la fa chi ha qualichicosa d'ammucciare, da nascondere, ma lei, tutti a Mazara potevano tistimoniarlo, tutti quelli che non erano cornuti o figli di battana, lei aveva avuto e continuava ad avere avere una vita trasparenti come l'aria (129).

In conclusion, another main function of Sicilian seems to be that of marking stereotyped, both positive and negative, features of (Southern) women.

Situational Functionality of Italian

In three of the characters examined, Sicilian is either absent (Mrs. Gulisano, Luigina Piccirillo and Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo in the television episode), or only minimally present (Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo in the novel). The absence of dialect in Luigina Piccirillo's speech could be related to her young age (she is "poco piu che ventenne", 26). In any case, she utters only a very short line in both the novel and the television episode, so the data available to assess her linguistic behaviour is too limited. As for Mrs. Gulisano, age could also be a determining factor since she is a "trentina, molto bella ma trasandata, ariata complice" (23); other relevant factors could be social class and/or level of education, as discussed below.

The last character who speaks (almost) exclusively in Italian is Clementina Vasile-Cozzo, the classy ("molto ben vestita", 60) and intelligent ("una vecchia intelligentissima signora", Borsellino 2002: L; "baciata dall'intelligenza e dotata di una naturale composta dignita", La voce del violino, 22) retired elementary teacher. As already mentioned, Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo is a recurring character in Montalbano's stories, who more than once helps him in the investigations and has been viewed as "uno dei personaggi meglio delineati e convincenti nati dall'estro creativo di Camilleri" (Pistelli 2003: 60). The overall absence of dialectal features in Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo's speech could be attributed to her level of education. The handful of Sicilian elements present in her speech in the novel either denote intimate aspects of her life (she has a cammarera che accudisce a mia e alla casa, 60), or pertain to traits of her personality that are perceived as positive by Montalbano (she is not a strucciolera, 60, and has uno stomaco che non ce l'ha una picciotta di ventanni, 63). Sicilian, thus, would be indexing positive moralities, and Montalbano's feelings of admiration, respect and complicity. This scenario would also apply to Mrs. Gulisano: she has a "ariata complice" (24), and Montalbano finds her attractive ("piu la taliava e piu ... gli piaceva", 24) and is intrigued by their sadly too short encounter ("trovo la situazione molto eccitante" and "Si dispiacque per la brevita dell'incontro", 24). Moreover, Mrs. Gulisano is a "trentina, molto bella" and in the Montalbano series, 'good' beautiful young women often speak in Italian only, in particular the ones with whom Montalbano gets romantically involved, such as, for example, Anna Tropeano in La voce del violino (1997) and Laura Belladonna in L'eta del dubbio (2008).

Some Remarks on Sociolinguistic Factors

In this section I would like to briefly comment on the role that the sociolinguistic parameters of age, social/socioeconomic class, and level of education may play on the alternation between Sicilian and Italian in the speech of our characters, or, more precisely, how they may interact with the situational functionality of the two languages. With respect to age, the expectation would be that, all other parameters being equal, younger speakers show a higher tendency for linguistic innovation, which, in our case, would include a greater use of Italian (or a higher degree of Italianization of the dialect) (Grassi et al. 2004: 200). Age would then account for the use of Italian by Luigina Piccirillo and Mrs. Gulisano, who, even though appears to be a house-wife, is the wife of a high-school (ginnasio) teacher; yet, it would seem irrelevant (in fact contradictory) for the linguistic behavior of Mrs. Gullotta and the young mother, on the one hand, and Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo's language, on the other. Socioeconomic status, possibly in conjunction with a lower level of education, might be a determining factor for the use of Sicilian by Mrs. Gullotta, since her husband works at the fish market, though we do not know precisely what type of job he holds. As for the young mother, the total lack of information about her social status and/or level of education precludes any assumptions. Socioeconomic status and level of education, however, could be defining factors for Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo's use of Italian, since it is not only inferred that she is well educated (she keeps herself informed and is an avid reader: "Sento la radio, guardo la television, ma soprattutto leggo", 60), but she is also a former elementary teacher and the central role of women in the process of transmission of (Standard) language to younger generation has been linked to a higher tendency to use (Standard) Italian (Grassi 2004: 204; see also Sobrero 1985). Level of education might also be a relevant factor in the case of Mrs. Lapecora and Mrs. Pipia since a few elements in their language do seem to point to a lower level of education. In the case of Mrs. Lapecora, evidence comes from her inappropriate use of the word cleptomania (instead of telepatia) in the novel, and of the adverb completamente in the television episode, illustrated in (30) and (31) respectively.

30) SIG.RA LP: Grazie per essere venuto accussi di prescia.

MON: Perche? Lei voleva vedermi?

SIG.RA LP: Si. Non glielo dissero all'ufficio che telefonai?

MON: Non ci sono ancora passato. Sono venuto qua di testa mia.

SIG.RA LP: Allora e un caso di cleptomania.

31) a. MON: Ah. Suo marito ha nemici?

SIG.RA LP: Nooo, completamente, no.

b. Ma lei chi bbole sapere, se io mi appostavo pi vvidiri quando dda funmina, nivora, traseva je nisceva dall'ufficio di mio marito? Completamente! No!

As for Mrs. Pipia, as noted above, some regionalisms/low-register, popular Italian features can be observed in her language, suggesting that her level of education is not high.

To conclude, sociolinguistic factors (i.e., age, social class, and level of education) do not appear to play a prominent role in the characterization of our female characters' language in terms of situational functionality of use of Sicilian vis-a-vis Italian. This, however, is quite possibly due to the lack of pertinent information provided (both in the novel and television episode) without which these sociolinguistic factors cannot be adequately assessed.


This paper has aimed at investigating the situational functionality of Sicilian for the depiction of characters, topics, and settings in Il ladro di merendine, the third novel (1996) and the first television episode (1999) of the Montalbano series. It examined the distribution of Sicilian features and the situational use of the Sicilian as a function of female characters vis-avis contexts and situations, as well as from a sociolinguistic perspective (i.e., in terms of social class, age, level of education); and a contrastive analysis of the distribution of dialectal features in the novel and the television adaptation was conducted to establish if and to what extent Sicilian plays a defining role in the depiction of characters, plot, main themes and settings, as well as to evaluate if differences in such functionality emerge between the two media. My results show that both in the novel and the television episode Sicilian indexes (highly) emotional, generally negative contexts and, in the novel, it also functions as a marker of stereotyped (both positive and negative) features of (Southern) women. Overall, then, my results agree with Santulli's (2010) claim that the alternation between Sicilian and Italian is a function of context, communicative situation and interlocutor's purposes, personality, and emotional states, though they do not seem to provide evidence for her claim that Sicilian is the "lingua in cui non si puo mentire" (Santulli 2010: 59). In addition, my results reveal that the observed situational functionality of Sicilian appears to be intensified in the television episode where Sicilian is featured more extensively, primarily at the phonological level but also at the morphological one. The question arises now of why this amplification of phonological features in the television episode. A tentative answer might be that it is due to the media. In television, spoken language is truly spoken (parlato parlato) and heard, whereas in writing spoken language is written and read. Thus, elements like pronunciation, inflection and intonation patterns, which are 'inherent' in parlato parlato and can convey a wider range of degrees of dialectality, may account for the more pervasive presence of phonological features of Sicilian in the television adaptation. As for the actual bearing of the sociolinguistic parameters age, socioeconomic class and level of education on the use of Sicilian, my results do not seem to allow the formulation of strong generalizations since these cannot be measured properly due to the insufficient and/or unclear information provided about them.

In addition, the (qualitative) analysis of the distribution of Sicilian features in the speech of our female characters has shown a higher incidence, and even more so in the television episode, for phonological features compared to morphological, morphosyntactic and, especially, lexical ones. This result appears to contradict claims such as "[i]l livello lessicale e il piu chiamato in causa da Camilleri" (Santulli 2010: 97) or that "l'operazione dialettale promossa sulla lingua da Camilleri [...] investe solo il piano lessicale, lasciando quasi intatto l'impianto grammaticale e sintattico" (Pistelli 2003: 22, my emphasis), except for a few "veniali concessioni vernacolari" like the use of passato remoto and the verb in sentence-final position (Pistelli 2003: 22). The absence/lower prominence of Sicilian lexical features in the television episode could be ascribed to the fact that, possibly, Camilleri's crafty and widely employed (at least in the 'earlier' Montalbano's stories) strategy of providing them with a "puntuale traduzione" (Pistelli 2003:19), which is found in the novel examined (e.g., Mrs. Vasile-Cozzo: non voleva che m'amtniscassi, m'intromettessi, 60; Mrs. Piccirillo e schetta, non e maritata, 26; Mrs. Pipia putia di varberi, come si dice, salone da barba, 129), is less practicable and less effective in the television adaptation.

Needless to say, the present study has only scratched the surface, and considerable further research is needed, addressing first the language of female characters' in other (later) novels and television episodes, which would then be compared to the language of male characters. Moreover, the depth and scope of the linguistic analysis should be expanded to include diatrastic and diaphasic dimensions of language variation. Conducting a more fine-grained analysis of the language of a larger, gender unrestricted sample of characters would allow for a more comprehensive and more satisfactory characterization of the situational functionality of language use in Camilleri's work, while adding a diachronic perspective (i.e., looking at Montalbano's novels and/or television episodes published after Il ladro di merendine) would allow to measure the legitimacy of the claim that the presence of the Sicilian dialect has significantly increased in time, as well as to reconstruct patterns of evolution in Camilleri's linguistic repertoire. Finally, extending the study to Camilleri's narrative productions other than the Montalbano's series, such as historical novels (Il nipote del Negus 2010), 'Vigata's' stories (Gran Circo Taddei e altre storie di Vigata 2011) and 'fantasy' novels (Maruzza Mesumeci 2007), would allow to identify potential different strategies of linguistic situational functionality for different genres.


The University of Texas at Austin


(1) Interview by Gabriella Grimaldi, "Le avventure in giallo di un 'europoliziotto'", La Nuova Sardegna, 17 June 1998; quoted in Demontis (2001:18).

(2) The first work of the Montalbano series is the novel La forma dell'acqua published in 1994 and the last is the novel Il metodo Catalanotti published in 2018.

(3) The first episode of the television series, Il ladro di merendine, was broadcasted on May 6, 1999; the last one, Come voleva la prassi, aired on March 6, 2017. The ninth series broadcasted in 2013 achieved an average viewership of 10.2 million. Note that the highest audience rating recorded for Italian television is 27,537,000 registered for the soccer world cup semi-final between Italy and Argentina played on July 3, 1990 (, accessed September 2016). Two more episodes are expected in the spring of 2018 ( tv-radio/2017/11/07/news/montalbano180456909/?ref=RHPPBT-VZ-I0-C4-P12-S1.4-T1).

(4) Le avventure di Topalbano and the interactive cd-roms of Il cane di terracotta (2000), Il ladro di merendine (2001), and La voce del violino (2002), which include a Dizionarietto vigatese-italiano edited by Camilleri Fans Club; for further details see where the complete list of Camilleri's publications is found.

(5) It should be noted, however, that Vizmuller-Zocco's (n.d.) claim seems to be based exclusively on Il cane di terracotta since no other works of Camilleri are referenced.

(6) Other female characters were excluded because they either speak exclusively Standard Italian, i.e., Livia, Montalbano's girlfriend and Karima, a Tunisian young woman who was Aurelio Lapecora's lover (in the television episode only since she does not speak at all in the novel) or do not speak Italian, i.e., Aisha, a Tunisian lady who speaks Arabic and French.

(7) A summary of the plot of the novel is provided in Bonina (2012: 642-645).

(8) <>

(9) Word stress is marked as in the novel.

(10) Cf. For incidence of use on Sicilian in relation to emotive context (i.e., rabbia) see Lo Piparo (1990).


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--. "Il dialetto nei romanzi di Andrea Camilleri." Web. 1 December 2017. <
Table 1 Sicilian features in Mrs. Lapecora's speech: novel vs. TV

NOVEL (pp. 188-191)                TV EPISODE (mm. 1:26:39-1:30:45)
Pazzo nisci?                       Ma ch'e 'mbazzito?
Certo. E che se ne fa con quella
tazzina.                           Ca cettu che e mia! E a tazzina
                                   ddo sewizzio bbono. E si puo
Mi leva una curiosita? [...]       sapere che cosa cci vuole fare?
Pirchi, secondo lei, io non
sono trasUta nello shidio          Mi levassi una curiosita: i
e non ho per prima cosa               ssecondo
ammazzato questa fimmina?          lei picchi io n'ave ammazzato
                                   subbito dda fimmena?
Mi scusasse, ma dato che lei
non era prisente, questa bella     Mi scusasse, ma dato che lei non
storia chi gliela conto?           era presente, a lei tutta questa
Era un cornuto e si meritava       storia cu e ca [tl]a cuntau?
la morte che fece. S'era portato
a casa mia la battana per          S'a meritava, a morte ca feci; s'a
spassarsela nel mio letto tutta    voleva spassare endu me lettu co
la jornata, mentre io ero fora.    dda puttana!

Non faccio queste cose io.         N'e fazzo 'ste cose iu! A minia
M'acchiano il sangue               mi iv'u sangu alla testa appena
alla testa quando                  capii checapii che s'a purtava a
s'era portato a casa mia la          casa mia
battana.                           s'a purtava, 'nda mi casa.

Duecento milioni a quella          Commissario, treccento milioni!
grandissima battana! Se non        Treccento milioni a dda grannissima
lo fermavo, quello era capace      troia! Se non lo fermavo,
di mangiarsi lo scagno, la         tutte cose si cci pigliava! Chiddu
casa e il deposito!                era capaci, ca si faceva mandare
                                   macari a casa, a mi casa ...
                                   milioni! Treccento milioni
                                   pi nna troia! Malidittu, tuttu
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Title Annotation:Andrea Camilleri
Author:Russi, Cinzia
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Jun 22, 2018
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