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The discovery of Calabria Waldensians

109Giovenale Vegezzi Ruscalla (1799-1885) was a Romance languages specialist belonging to so-called pre-Ascolian linguists. His research was as focused as much on history and ethnology (he coined the word in Italian) as on language.

He gathered material on the Piedmontese dialect but was also interested by the Occitan spoken in the Waldensian Valleys. As he was granted a project to draw an ethnic map of the newly unified Italy, he published that article “Colonia piemontese in Calabria. Studio etnografico” about the Guardia Piemontese Occitans, in the 1862 issue of the Rivista contemporanea. At that time Guardia was not yet called Piemontese, and Vegezzi wrote the rationale to change its name.

Vegezzi also published a manifest for keeping Niça inside the Kingdom of Italy (La nazionalità di Nizza, 1860) and another one to eradicate the use of French in the Waldensian Valleys and the Valley of Aoste (Diritto e necessità di abrogare il francese come lingua ufficiale in alcune valli della provincia di Torino.)

Vegezzi’s main interest of study was not Occitan, but Romania and the Romanian language: he taught it in the Turin university until he retired.

The text was extracted from the Rivista contemporanea digitized and published on the Internet Archive.

Click here to read or download Giovenale Vegezzi Ruscalla’s Colonia piemontese in Calabria. Studio etnografico (#109 of the Documents pour l’étude de la langue occitane series) from the IEO Paris website.

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