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Italian Lawmakers Want To Fine the Use of English Words and I Wish It Were an April Fools’ Joke

Italy just HAS to keep up our reputation as the laughingstock of Europe, I guess.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni attends a two days EU Summit in the Europa, the EU Council headquarter on March 23, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. She's looking to the side with a disgruntled expression.

In September 2022, the Italian political elections brought into office the country’s most far-right government since the first half of the twentieth century—when I’m sure we all remember what happened. And clearly the universe does, too, with a strange sense of humor.

The new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni—proof that girlbossing will bring women’s rights absolutely nowhere—was sworn in just a cool ten-ish days before the hundredth anniversary of Benito Mussolini’s March on Rome, the coup with which he took power in the then Kingdom of Italy. 

And now, news has surfaced of a new bill that would impose fines on the use of English words in Italy, in an attempt to “preserve the Italian language.” We’re just digging ourselves into a bottomless bit at this point.

The bill was presented specifically by Fabio Rampelli, a member of Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, who sits in the Chamber of Deputies—the lower house of the Italian Parliament—of which he’s also one of the vice presidents. Rampelli cites the need to “safeguard and promote the use of the Italian language,” since, as he reports, there are almost 9000 words derived from English currently in usage within it. 

The bill proposes that Italian should be the mandatory language of all public services and communications, as well as for all events and celebrations that take place within the country’s borders. That would include banning the use of all English and other foreign language words and acronyms in the corporate world, as well as limiting the school and university classes that are taught in any language that isn’t Italian—unless foreign students are attending said classes.

Of course, there would be fines for those who wouldn’t adhere to what the bill would put in place. These fines would range from 5,000 to 100,000 euros—more or less from 5,470 to 109,280 U.S. dollars. And as the rest of the country was quick to point out, all of this is absolutely ridiculous.

It’s not just the other political parties raising criticism—kind of a given, as that’s what oppositions do. The actual institution that regulates the use of the Italian language in the world, the Accademia della Crusca, also weighed in to shoot the bill down. The Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported the words of the Crusca’s president, Professor Claudio Marazzini, who said that the bill “threatens to cast ridicule over all those who love the Italian language.”

One also should consider that it’s 2023 and there’s a thing called the Internet—which is where many of the English words that have entered the Italian vocabulary or that have been “Italianized” come from. Would this mean regulating access to the Internet in some ways? Because that has never proved to be a very good idea. 

Now, here’s the thing: Is this bill a red herring thrown up by the government to distract the public from much more serious issues? Most likely. Would something like this actually ever be passed into law, with fines and all? Probably not. 

Still, reading articles about this topic can’t help but feel uncanny. After all, an attempt at something like this—banning foreign words and Italianizing others to make sure that Italian was the only language used in the country—was made once before in Italian history, starting in July of 1923, to be exact, by (you guessed it) Mussolini. History rhyming and all that. 

(via Il Sole 24 Ore, featured image: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

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Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.