Ciao, hello, no! Italy’s right-wing government wants to ban English words

The right-wing party has presented Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni with a new bill that would fine the use of English and other foreign words in official communications between €5,000 and €100,000.

According to Meloni’s party, the aim of the law, which has faced widespread opposition in Italy even from Italy’s most famous linguist and philologist, the prestigious Accademia della Crosca, is to “defend and promote the Italian language” and protect national identity.

The new proposal, supported by Meloni, was put forward by Fabio Rampelli, a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. In a tweet pinned to his Twitter profile, the MP gave an example of a so-called “Englishmania” that would see Italian politicians and bureaucrats fined if the law was passed.

“In the Chamber of Deputies,” Rampelli writes, “we speak Italian.” “We continue to fight for the use of our language instead of English. We can’t understand why we call an automatic hand sanitizer dispenser a ‘dispenser.’”

Instead of using the word “distributor” in English, Meloni’s government wants officials to use the more elaborate Italian expression: “dispensatore di liquido igienizzante per le mani.”

Italian – like most other languages ​​in Europe – has adopted many English terms in recent years, partly because they are terms for “new” things that do not belong in the Italian tradition (computers, social media, smart work), partly because English often offers a more succinct and faster version of terms that Italian can only express in a roundabout way.

Second, because many English words are used, even when an Italian term would suffice—in Italy, for example, it’s common to refer to business meetings as a “briefing” or to use the word “deadline” in a professional context—a touch of authority and cosmopolitanism.

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According to the latest data, the prestigious Italian encyclopedia Treccani currently contains 9,000 English words and 800,000 Italian words. Since 2000, the number of English words blending into the Italian language has increased by 773 percent.

The adoption of English words into the Italian language is the subject of endless debates in Italy, with opinions divided between protecting the integrity of the national language and accepting that living languages ​​are fluid and constantly evolving.

Meloni’s new bill takes a strong position in this debate, pushing for a conservative approach aimed at effectively banning English words from public administration, schools and universities. According to the new law, “everyone [Universitäts-]A course that is not specifically intended to teach a foreign language must be held in Italian.” Courses in foreign languages ​​are justified only if they are intended for foreign students.

Anyone holding a position in public administration must be “fluent in Italian, both written and spoken”.

According to the draft law, the use of English words will “humiliate and humiliate” the Italian language, and it gets worse because the UK is no longer part of the European Union. The bill has not yet been discussed in parliament.

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