Bilingual labelling goes ahead in South Tyrol- but not for Ladin

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jan 6 20:12:09 UTC 2004


Eurolang, the European news agency for minority languages


Bilingual labelling goes ahead in South Tyrol- but not for Ladin
Torino / Turin  6/01/04, by Marco Stolfo

The labelling of pharmaceutical products in the Autonomous Province of
South Tyrol, in northern Italy, is now available in German and from
December German-speaking customers of pharmacies have been receiving
information leaflets and brochures in their mother tongue.

This measure has been introduced with the support of the Association of
Pharmacists (Federfarma) and the main pharmaceutical producers and
distributors in the region where German, Italian and Ladin are spoken.

It follows a lengthy process beginning with a presidential decree in 1988
(DPR no. 574 on the use of German and Ladin in dealings of citizens with
the public administration and in court proceeding), followed by a circular
issued by the Ministry of Health in 1997 and confirmed by a new decree two
years ago (D. Lgs. 283/2001).

Fifteen years later, this provision finally becomes a reality. Speaking to
Eurolang Uberto Cimatti, President of Federfarma in South Tyrol, said
that: There was a legal obligation to give customers bilingual packaging,
but it was very difficult to implement it. Now, with information
technology, it is easier to do.

It began with a project started by Unifarma, the main distributor of
pharmaceutical products, to give every chemists shop in South Tyrol the
possibility of giving their customers bilingual information leaflets, says

It was clear that the best way to reach this goal was to install computers
and printers in every pharmacy.  This measure currently covers 10% of
products on the National Health Service [which means 50% of all the
medicines distributed], but the number is increasing, states Cimatti.
People in the province have welcomed the move; German-speakers were
waiting for it for a long time while pharmaceutical producers are covering
the costs.

The initiative illustrates where market requirements and linguistic rights
can operate in tandem. I think it could also be realised for other
linguistic minorities, says Cimatti.  However, the measure does not cover
South Tyrols Ladin speakers. According to Cimatti it is because the Ladins
are a small community, they can read German or Italian, they didn't ask
for it and laws and decrees provide for this measure only in German.

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