Il Passaggiere/The Passenger (1612): Benvenuto Italiano’s Dialogues for Learning Spoken Italian *
This chapter highlights some elements that mimic orality, a founding characteristic of pedagogical parallel dialogues ever since ancient times. But Benvenuto's Passaggiere is many things at once: it is a collection of useful phrases, an original albeit not wholly accurate poetic anthology. In the Renaissance Italian was considered an essential tool for polite conversation at court and in high society. In the early seventeenth century modern languages began to be taught in schools, and Englishwomen of sufficient means were learning French and Italian as 'accomplishments'. Dialogues create an imagined orality and provide the learner with a fictional situation where oral exchanges can take place, staging a range of possible speeches that rely on the interplay between the written and the spoken word. The process of writing controls some features typical of "real" speech, such as ellipsis, brachylogy, pronoun redundancy and so on.