Talk abstract details

Linguistic Sources for the Study of Popular Names of Stars in Italian and Spanish Languages.
Paola Capponi


Most of the bibliography related to popular names of stars and constellations is spread over different specialised journals.
The scope of this paper is, on one hand, to collect in one single paper materials which are difficult to find out and put them at disposal of everyone interested in studying this field; on the other hand, by proposing a semantic analysis, the paper is intended to clarify that popular names of stars and constellations define a nomenclature system, of course not as well defined as the scientific one, but, nevertheless with its own internal rules, categories and ratio.
Popular names used to refer to celestial objects in rapidly vanishing rural societies are quickly disappearing. The supposed “uselessness of the sky” is only partly responsible (nowadays people don’t look at the sky for the practical purpose of telling the time, or forecasting changes in weather). More seriously the loss of the words referring to stars and constellations reminds us of a deeper change in the view itself of the sky and, more generally, of nature. The loss of a magic and religious view of the sky (which reminds us of ancient pagan beliefs) is the main reason behind the disappearance of these words. These names reflect the human view of the sky with all the ancient heritage they are relics of.