Professor of Sociolinguistics
"The main focus in Arturo Tosi’s research has been the relationship between plurilingualism in the individual and multilingualism in society."
Arturo Tosi graduated in Italy in 1971 before he moved to England, where he gained a Ph.D. in London and taught in several universities. From 1997 he held the Chair of Italian Linguistics at Royal Holloway College. There, with the income of a number of visiting positions in European universities, he established the Dionisotti Foundation to support research students in the field of Italian studies. In 2004 he was awarded the title Ufficiale al Merito della Repubblica Italiana for his contribution to Italian language and culture abroad. Since 2008 he is an Emeritus Professor of Italian at Royal Holloway, University of London, and holds the Honorary Chair in Italian Linguistics at the University of Siena. He has published widely in the field of linguistics and has taught in several universities in Europe as well as in Canada and Australia. Arturo Tosi is committed to the promotion of Italian culture in Europe, and the UK in particular, and has set up a number of initiatives to support the teaching of Italian language in schools and universities.
1 - Bilingualism
Arturo Tosi worked at Bedford (England) as the Co-ordinator of the first EEC project on migrant education (1976-1980) which aimed to investigate the early bilinguism of ethnic minority children. From 1980 to 1984 he was the Chairman of the National Council for Mother Tongue Teaching, an association set up to maintain the culture of ethnic minorities in Britain and to promote the teaching of their languages in the school curricula. In 1984 he was invited to Melbourne to investigate the bilingualism of the local Italian community. In the subsequent year he was awarded a Visiting Fellowship of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education to carry out a project concerned with the bilingualism of the Italian community in Toronto.
2 - Social and Linguistic Disadvantage
Since 1992 he has investigated the patterns of new immigration to the South of Europe and he raised EU grants to look at the language disadvantage of immigrants and minorities in inner-city areas.
3 - Language and Society in Italy
From the beginning of his collaboration with the University of Siena in 1994, he has assembled materials on the evolution of Standard Italian and on its varieties, in order to study their impact on the media and other channels of mass communication.
4 - Multilingualism and Multilingual Translation in the EU
Since 1996 he has worked as an consultant for the Translation Services of the EU Commission and Parliament. He was invited to set up in-service programmes on translation practices, terminologies and other relevant topics to the integration of a multilingual Europe. In 2001 he published a summative study on the Italian situation with the contribution of other leading Italian linguists, and in 2003 he edited a book with the contributions of linguists and translators from different linguistic backgrounds. In 2007 he published a substantial monograph on the impact of the EU approach to translation on the textuality of documents in Italian language.
5 - Historical Sociolinguistics
Recently he has been working on a monograph in the field of social history of language. The new book is expected to be useful to historians with an interest in language, and to the increasing number of linguists who are active in the fast growing research area of historical-sociolinguistics. The writings of travellers in early modern Europe provide a valuable source of information about language contact, and illuminate how socialisation with the locals led, on the one hand, to conscious borrowings from prestigious foreign peers and, on the other, to linguistic disorientation when confronted with lower-class speech and rural vernaculars.