ITALIA BENI CULTURALI: Spiacenti Renzi, il mondo ha bisogno di apprezzare e imparare l’italiano | “When in Rome, Don’t Speak English. Grazie.” THE DAILY BEAST (03|01|2015) & THE NEW YORK TIMES (28|02|2015).
“Caro ministro Renzi, mentre il mio Google-italiano fa schifo davvero, so che l’importanza e il valore della lingua italiana meglio allora che fai. Mille grazie Martin”
1). When in Rome, Don’t Speak English. Grazie. Furious Italians are defending the sanctity of their native tongue after a navy ad campaign and an aggressive PM trigger worries of an English invasion. THE DAILY BEAST (03|01|2015).
ROME — La lingua italiana è la quarta più studiata al mondo. So, how does it feel to see a language you don’t necessarily understand? Or one that you think you maybe do on a superficial level, but you aren’t quite sure what the phrase really means?
That’s how a growing number of Italians feel when they see an increasing number of English words plastered on billboards and sprinkled into the daily vernacular. More than 65,000 people have signed an online petition so far to dillo in italiano or “say it in Italian.”
The last straw in what has been a slow but steady Englishization of the Italian language was a campaign by Italy’s navy known locally as the Marina Militare in Italian, telling Italians, in English, to “Be cool and join the navy.”
Not only does being “cool” not translate easily into Italian—because Italians like to think they have what most people who want to be cool are trying to emulate—but most found it offensive to have one of the most respected of all of Italy’s defense forces shunning the national language to recruit Italians. Insults have been hurled at the Marina Militare suggesting that the use of English signifies that Italy is a “slave to NATO” or that perhaps the Americans are trying to colonize Italy. “It seems a rather provincial approach. Why use the phrase ‘Be cool’?” Anna Maria Testa, an advertising consultant, told La Repubblica. “There are plenty of equivalents in Italian… it’s like putting ketchup on macaroni.”
The city of Rome has also joined the anglo-lingo movement, introducing a new campaign called RoMe&You, which can be read both as Rome and You, or Rome, Me, and You, which has insulted many locals since they call their beloved city Roma and who assume people visit the city because of its Italianness, not because the ad makers speak English. The publicity firm for the 2015 Expo in Milan have also joined the move with an English-Italian combination phrase very bello website to showcase the apparent “very beautiful” events.
“Renzi asks that his ministers all speak English, which is the first time in Italy’s history when such a requirement has been even suggested.Renzi asks that his ministers all speak English, which is the first time in Italy’s history when such a requirement has been even suggested.”
The peppering of English into the Italian psyche has gained speed with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s rise to power. He talks about the “jobs act” and frequently uses English words like “benchmark” and “market” in his parliamentary addresses. Nevermind that a video of his inarguably bad English pronunciation has gone viral in Italy. Renzi has insisted that Italy must modernize and he asks that his ministers all speak English, which is the first time in Italy’s history when such a requirement has been even suggested.
But for some Italians, like linguist Gianluigi Beccaria, the use of English is a matter of snobbism versus provincialism among the Italians. Citing Dante and Galileo, he says poisoning the Italian language with English words threatens the DNA of the language. “I’m worried above all that the adoption of English as a unique language will water down other languages,” he says. “We need to be as strong as the French insisting that the native language prevails.”
Beppe Severgnini, one of Italy’s most-loved political columnists (who, by the way, writes in both English and Italian), addressed the issue in a recent column for The New York Times, pointing out the problems with the Milan Polytechnic university switching its higher level courses and doctorate degrees to English only in 2011, only to revert back to Italian only in 2013. He notes that the linguistic conversion to English was protested by faculty who embraced a 1933 law under Benito Mussolini that made Italian the formal language of academics in the country as part of a move then to block words like “cocktail” and “sandwich” from Italian advertising campaigns.
But Severgnini said it is in Italy’s best interest to embrace English, especially in education, or Italy will lag behind. “As you know, here in Italy we speak Italian. Beautiful though our language may be, it is not the medium of choice for engineers when they’re building a beltway in Norway or designing a dam in Vietnam,” he writes. “Time to face the future, signori professori, in any language you like. Just look in the right direction.”
FONTE | SOURCE:
— THE DAILY BEAST (03|01|2015).
2) MILAN – Beppe Severgnini “Italy’s New Lingua Franca”, THE NEW YORK TIMES (28|02|2015).
MILAN — Most students look forward in life; too many teachers look back. A tad depressing as sentiments go, perhaps, but it sums up Italian universities.
Take Milan Polytechnic. With around 40,000 students, the Politecnico di Milano is the largest and most prestigious technical university in Italy, offering undergraduate, graduate and other advanced courses in engineering, architecture and design. Founded in 1863, just two years after Italy was united, Milan Polytechnic ranks well internationally; many of its graduates now grace the faculties of schools like M.I.T., Caltech and Oxbridge. Among the Politecnico’s distinguished alumni are the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Giulio Natta and the architects Aldo Rossi and Renzo Piano, the latter of whom designed the New York Times building in Manhattan.
Yet the Politecnico has a problem. As you know, here in Italy we speak Italian. Beautiful though our language may be, it is not the medium of choice for engineers when they’re building a beltway in Norway or designing a dam in Vietnam. For better or worse, the global tongue of engineers is English. Hoping to attract more international students, the Politecnico decided in 2011 to run its master’s courses and doctorates in English only.
And then all academic hell broke loose.
Over 100 faculty members went to court to block the plan, citing a 1933 royal decree that makes Italian the official language of academia. Who cares if the decree was issued under fascism and driven by Benito Mussolini’s obsession with banning words like “cocktail” and “sandwich”? So what if Italian Politecnico students speak good English already, and use only English-language textbooks? So what if their future job applications, interviews and business meetings will all be in English?
And requiring English-language teaching was obviously a good move for the university: The Politecnico’s international enrollment shot up. But for some faculty members, all that matters is their cozy routine. They don’t feel comfortable teaching in English. Period. And in 2013, the regional administrative court said they were right. Teaching in English was out.
But there was more to come. The recalcitrant academics then went on a nationwide campaign against their university’s decision. Unwisely, the guardian of the Italian language — the Accademia della Crusca, based in Florence — backed them, saying, “We note with regret and intense concern the creeping marginalization and abandonment of Italian in the upper tiers of university education.” Never mind that the English-language requirement applied only to master’s degrees and doctorates at a technical school where students learn how to build bridges and don’t deconstruct Dante. The defenders of Italian were on the warpath.
Administrators at the Politecnico refused to be intimidated, and appealed the ruling. Last month the Council of State, which vets the legality of Italian administrative policies, ruled that it was up to the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest legal body, to decide whether English-only university teaching violates Article 33 of the Italian Constitution: “Art and science are free, and teaching them is free.” The question is whether teaching in English hampers students’ free access to knowledge. But one could put it differently, and ask whether universities should be free to teach in whatever manner they think best serves their students.
Interestingly, the people one might expect to be most up in arms over English-only teaching, the students themselves, have taken it in stride. The Politecnico’s rector, Giovanni Azzone, told me: “Students write to me about everything from the lack of parking spaces to washrooms that don’t work. Not one has ever complained about the courses in English.”
I had an early taste of this mood in 2011, soon after the university adopted English for graduate degree courses. In a speech to students on the Politecnico’s main campus in Milan, I introduced myself in Latin — still a cool, international language — and then spoke in English.
The students didn’t miss a single word. They took notes. They laughed at my jokes. They asked intelligent questions. Some faculty members failed to laugh or, I suspect, follow what I was saying.
But they did ask questions in Italian, like: “I’m past 50. What would you say if I told you that I don’t feel comfortable teaching in English?” My answer: “I’d wonder where you worked, which academic journals you wrote for and what international conferences you attended. What kind of a teacher are you?”
There was one question I didn’t ask at the time, but would like to ask now. Why is Italian academia so slow to change? Could the reason perhaps be that none of the country’s 13,279 tenured professors is younger than 35? Only 15 are under 40; the average age is 60. Time to face the future, signori professori, in any language you like. Just look in the right direction.
FONTE | SOURCE:
— THE NEW YORK TIMES (28|02|2015).