- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2023

Italian officials better start pronouncing “bruschetta” correctly or they could face up to a six-figure fine.

New legislation introduced recently by Italy’s right-wing ruling party seeks to ban the use of English words — and Anglicized pronunciations of Italian words — in government communications, at schools, in the media, or in advertising.

According to a CNN report, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has given her blessing to the proposed legislation in the name of protecting the Italian language and the country’s national identity.

“In the lower chamber of deputies we speak Italian,” Fabio Rampelli, who introduced the legislation, wrote in a November tweet pinned to the top of his profile. “We continue our battle for the use of our language instead of English.”

The tweet, which was written in Italian and translated with computer assistance, was accompanied by a clip from the chamber in which a speaker uses the word “dispenser.”

Mr. Rampelli denounced that word as an Anglicism, though his use of the Italian “dispensatore” becomes “dispenser” in Google’s autotranslate function.

Euronews reported that instead of using the English word “dispenser,” Italian government officials would have to say “dispensatore di liquido igienizzante per le mani,” which literally translates to “dispenser of sanitizing liquid for the hands.”

Mr. Rampelli’s tweet denouncing “dispenser” used that lengthy phrase.

The legislation would levy fines ranging from about $5,500 to $110,000 to violators.

The bill also calls for university classes to be taught in Italian — unless the subject is a foreign language — and requires all public officials must have “written and oral knowledge and mastery of the Italian language.”

Further, the nation’s Culture Ministry would be in charge of making sure the “correct use of the Italian language and its pronunciation.”

Like many languages worldwide, Italian has seen an influx of English words in recent decades as that language has become globally dominant and more Italians have come to learn it.

Words such as “briefing” and “deadline,” for example, have become more common in Italian since they are single words that, like “dispenser,” Italian would require a whole phrase to convey.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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