"Italian becomes official language ... of Italy"

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Apr 4 01:28:50 UTC 2007


Thanks, Don, for bringing this to our attention. In my conception of
language policy, terms like "official" and "national" have limited meanings,
unless spelled out very carefully and explicitly.  Legislators who
officialize a language often think that all they have to do is rubber stamp
a policy with the words "official" and then something will automatically
happen, and a language will be "protected" or whatever.

I like the language of French language policy:  "La langue de la republique
est le francais."   Not "la langue officielle" or "nationale".  But they
still thnk it *means* something.

Hal S.

On 4/3/07, Don Osborn <dzo at bisharat.net> wrote:
>
> So here's another "official language" story and whether it makes eminent
> sense, or is ridiculous, or negates linguistic rights is a matter of
> opinion.
>
> But it does raise again in my mind what the purpose of "official language"
> legislation, especially when it is, as the article mentions, "purely
> symbolic."
>
> 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
> Rome.
>
> 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
> force.
>
> 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
> d'Aosta.
>
> 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.
>
>
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