This paper explores the theoretical question of linguistic coherence by investigating lexical variation in contemporary Italian. In order to tackle issues regarding the coherence of lexical choice, variation is investigated with methods from lexical lectometry, which approaches the structure of language varieties (i.e. lects) by studying aggregate-level lexical distances between them. Based on uniformity measures, as introduced by Geeraerts et al. (1999), we have calculated the internal and external uniformity of spoken and written traditional standard Italian (represented by the academic section of the CORIS corpus for written Italian and the formal parts of the KIP corpus for spoken Italian) and neo-standard Italian (represented by the ParlaTO corpus for spoken Italian and the newspaper section of the CORIS corpus). The results confirm the hypothesis that two standard norms coexist in contemporary Italian and that traditional standard Italian appears to be more coherent at the lexical level than neo-standard Italian. Yet the study also indicates that other forms of coherence exist in contemporary Italian, depending on the adopted theoretical and methodological framework.
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