End-of-stay interview with Fabio Scetti

Published: 12 September 2023

Fabio Scetti's work focuses on migration, language variation and endangered minority languages. He has studied the Portuguese community in Montreal, Portuguese immigration in the United States and in Australia, and Brazilian immigration to Japan.

During his stay at CIRM in the summer of 2023, Mr. Scetti worked on Montreal's Italian community, its language practices and the representations that members of the said "community" have of these practices. CRIEM met with him to discuss his progress.

Fabio Scetti

What goals did you achieve during your research stay?

My research objectives have changed, because I have been hired as an adjunct professor of linguistics at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières! But I was still able to advance my interviews with people from the Italian community, of which I have about 90 so far.

I would have liked to write more, but I had to do some course preparation.

How have you benefited from CIRM's support and collaborations with CIRM members and partners for your research project?

I started this research project around 2018-2019. Thanks to CIRM, I was able to benefit from a quiet space in which to conduct my interviews, which is not always easy to find! I was also able to take advantage of the library.

What's more, because of my teaching position, I intend to become a regular researcher at CIRM.

You study the language practices of Montreal's Italian community and the representations that members of this community have of these practices: why study Montreal's Italian community and its language practices?

I first studied the Portuguese community in Montreal, and was often asked why I hadn't studied the Italian community. As an Italian, I almost felt that after my thesis, I had to. But beyond that, there are some really interesting characteristics about Montreal's Italian community. For example, the fact that you can still find dialects that are now extremely rare in Italy. Italians in North America have a long history of immigration. Italy itself wasn't necessarily unified at the time, or at least its language wasn't that unified. I was amazed to hear Faetar and Arbëresh, dialects of Italy from the Middle Ages!

Also, the Italians had to integrate first into their own community, then into the province, then into the country; it's a triple integration. In this sense, whereas, for example, the Portuguese continue to speak Portuguese, even after two generations, Italians tend to speak dialects and other Italian languages. So there are elements that make Montreal Italians much more heterogeneous than one might think.

You have also studied the Portuguese community in Montreal, Portuguese immigration to the U.S. and Brazilian immigration to Japan, so different communities in different cities. What characterizes Montreal in terms of language and immigration?

Montreal is a "roundabout", as I call it in my book. The city really represents both Quebec and Canada, with French and English having been present for a very long time, and the various struggles to assert these two languages and cultures. As I mentioned earlier, there's a persistence of languages in cultural communities. Some Montrealers speak their original language for longer, and that's unique to Montreal; this is not happening in the United States or even Toronto.

What's your favorite place in Montreal?

I love Mile End! I feel like I'm in my own little bubble, and there are people from so many different communities there, I really love it!

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