Italy Bans the English Language

Courtesy of IStock

Courtesy of IStock

Emily Golan, Staff Writer

On April 3rd, 2023, the country of Italy proposed a new law that would ban the use of English and other foreign languages. Violators could face fines of up to $110K. An Italian lawmaker wants to pass a law that will ban the use of English in official documents, prompting hefty fines for those who don’t comply. But some politicians close to Italy’s first female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, are distancing themselves from the proposed law. This is not a hate thing against other languages, however. This law was proposed to keep the Italian language “alive” in the country of Italy. Italy feels that the excessive use of the English language and other foreign languages would eventually lead to the Italian language being used less often and eventually ‘dying’. Adding on to that, it is even worse because the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU (European Union).

Under the proposed law, the Culture Ministry would establish a committee whose remit would include “correct use of the Italian language and its pronunciation.” Especially in school, media, commerce, and advertising. For example, this would mean that saying “bru-shetta” instead of “bru-sketta” could be a punishable offense. The move to safeguard the Italian language joins an existing bid by the government to protect the country’s cuisine.

7th grader Dante Arone explains “I feel like while this law can be upsetting to tourists, foreigners, and others who can’t speak the language and are just trying to visit the country, I feel like it’s an understandable law because not only will it encourage people to learn the language it will also ensure that Italian remains the most spoken language in the country.
I do know how to speak Italian but not that fluently. While some words and sentences could be difficult for me to speak and understand, I feel like with what I know I can make my way around the country. Also, I am taking Italian classes, to help me better understand the language. While this law does affect many people, almost all of my relatives know how to speak Italian so for me and my family this law isn’t really too much of a problem. I say that they should pass the law but only for people who are working in Italy.”

This law could also cause tourism in Italy to decrease. However, the proposed law isn’t to target tourists specifically, because they will only be in the country for a temporary period, rather this law will strictly target Italian citizens. This is likely because Italy feels that other languages, especially English, are being used more than their own language. However, because of this law, this can affect communications between tourists and citizens.

Courtesy of Swedish Nomad

Even Italy’s prime minister has herself used foreign words in her speeches, although she has also emphasized the importance of protecting and promoting the Italian language and culture. Research from CBS News shows that Meloni (the Italian prime minister) has insisted that she is no fascist, just a proud nationalist. She is comfortable, nevertheless, with some of the hallmarks of Italian fascism, including a motto she often utters from podiums: “Dio, patria e famiglia!” In English, that translates to “God, fatherland, and family.”