Italy's PM Backs $109K Fines for Using English

Proposed law backed by Brothers of Italy party aims to fight 'Anglomania'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2023 12:58 PM CDT
Italy's PM Backs $109K Fines for Using English
Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speaks with the media as she arrives for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, March 23, 2023.   (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

"Saying 'bru-shetta' instead of 'bru-sketta' could be a punishable offense" in Italy, where Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has thrown her support behind legislation that would forbid use of a language other than Italian in public administration offices and schools, as well as establish a committee to rule on "correct use of the Italian language and its pronunciation," CNN reports. The legislation, similar to France's Toubon Law, aims to fight "Anglomania," or the increasing use of the English language in the country. It's a "battle for the use of our language instead of English," says Fabio Rampelli of Meloni's right-wing Brothers of Italy party, who introduced the bill with proposed fines ranging from $5,435 to $108,705.

Various English words and phrases—"social media," for example—have become commonplace in Italy "in part because the English language often offers a more concise, snappier version of terms that in Italian would take quite a roundabout way to express," Euro News reports. But this "demeans and mortifies" the Italian language, which would become "mandatory for the promotion and use of public goods and services in the national territory," according to the bill. That means that the popular English phrase "hand sanitizer dispenser" would have to be translated to "dispensatore di liquido igienizzante per le mani," according to Rampelli. Even the acronym CEO would be banned.

The proposal—claiming 1.1% of words in the Italian dictionary are now anglicisms—states "whoever speaks only Italian today risks the failing of incommunicability." But Quartz argues Italy’s government is "making itself the laughing stock of the world" in "following fascist footsteps," specifically those of Benito Mussolini, whose "linguistic reclamation" project led to six-month jail sentences for those who used foreign words. Even Italy's prestigious Accademia della Crusca, a group of renowned scholars of Italian linguistics and philology, is balking. As Quartz reports, "the academy thinks the new proposal is so outlandish that it risks making bonafide efforts to preserve Italian look ridiculous, too." (More Italy stories.)

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