"Italian becomes official language ... of Italy"

Don Osborn dzo at bisharat.net
Tue Apr 3 19:43:53 UTC 2007

So here's another "official language" story and whether it makes eminent
sense, or is ridiculous, or negates linguistic rights is a matter of

But it does raise again in my mind what the purpose of "official language"
legislation, especially when it is, as the article mentions, "purely

BTW, I saw this on
http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/crossculturalnews/index.html (via RSS).

Don Osborn

Italian becomes official language ... of Italy
Fri Mar 30, 2007 5:42PM BST

ROME (Reuters) - It's official. The language of Italy is Italian -- but not
everyone is happy about it.

While it might seem obvious, the Italian-ness of Italian has only just been
enshrined in the constitution, with parliament voting this week to state
that: "The Italian language is the official language of the Republic".

The seemingly uncontroversial statement was opposed by 75 members of
parliament, including leftists who said it smacked of cultural imperialism
and northern separatists who are suspicious of pretty much any diktat from

One deputy, Federico Bricolo from the Northern League party, said his
nationality, and therefore his language, was not Italian but Venetian. He
said the dialect of Venice was spoken by "millions of men and women around
the world".

"It's the language spoken in my family, in schools, at work. I am Venetian,
Mr President, my language is that of Venice," Bricolo said in his dialect
before his microphone was switched off because he was breaking a rule that
states only Italian may be spoken in parliament.

Franco Russo, of Italy's main Communist party, said the post-war
constitution deliberately left out any mention of the language in a reaction
against dictator Benito Mussolini's attempts to "Italianise" the country by

The change to the constitution, approved by 361 votes to 75, is purely
symbolic and does not alter the legal status that other languages enjoy in
parts of Italy, such as German in the Alto Adige region or French in Val

But supporters of the change said it was high time the language was
recognised as a fundamental part of what made up modern Italy -- a country
which was only created by unifying rival regions and city states in 1870.

It was Tuscan dialect -- in which Dante wrote the mediaeval epic poem the
Inferno in the fourteen century -- that emerged as the national language of
Italy, but many people still speak local dialects some of which are largely
incomprehensible to people from other parts of the country.

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list