8. On the Different Fates of “darla” and “darlo” in Italian

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by Cinzia Russi

Cinzia Russi demonstrates how Darla “be promiscuous, of women” and darlo “engage in sodomy” first appear in the sixteenth century; in the late twentieth century, darlo acquires the meaning of  “have sex, of men” (same as darla but without the connotation of “easiness”). While darla is well established in the average speaker’s lexicon, darlo (in both meanings) remains highly marginal. These two verbs attest to a lexical asymmetry resulting from the misogynistic view ingrained in Western culture of women as inferior, inherently immoral and wanton, and the different “fortunes” of darlo/a show that sociocultural attitudes and stereotypes shape language change. In English.

 

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