Fratelli d’Italia proposes new bill fining those who ‘use foreign words’ up to 100,000 euros

Georgia Meloni, Italy's Prime Minister

 ROME - Fratelli d'Italia, the party of Italy’s Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, has presented to the Chamber of Deputies a bill which aims to defend the Italian language from the “rampant” use of foreign words by introducing potential fines of up to 100,000 euros, according to government officials.

 Complete with obligations, prohibitions and penalties for those who violate them, with fines ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 euros. They range from a ban on the use of foreign names for roles in companies, to a clampdown on language courses in universities. "If you do not make yourself understood or do not want to be understood by the people, you are anti-democratic," commented the first signatory Fabio Rampelli, Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies, as reported by Il Fatto Quotidiano.

 The bill proposal recalls a campaign by Mussolini to eradicate foreign words which were officially banned in 1929 under his fascist government - a policy which included banning the teaching of minority languages. His campaign against foreign influences included replacing anglicisms with new Italian translations. For instance, he ruled that a barman should instead be called a barista.

 There was an immediate chorus of criticism from the opposition. For the PD, the proposal “borders on ridiculous.” They joked: "Will they also fine the Ministry for Made in Italy?", a Ministry set up by the government themselves.

 The signatories of the bill have stated in the presentation that anglicisms have infiltrated Italian life and has reached “watchdog levels.” The risk, they say, is that foreign language may lead to the “disappearance” of Italian.

 The priority, for the FdI deputies, is to “prevent this disappearance” with the initiatives contained in the bill. First and foremost, they state the obligation to use Italian for the promotion of public goods and services. An obligation that also covers communications in any public place.

 Then, legally imposed translations and interpreters would need to be at all events and conferences in a foreign language on national territory. Mandatory translations would also be needed on labels of typical products destined for the foreign market. And again, a ban on the use of foreignerisms for roles in companies, unless they can be translated.

 Finally, the bill proposes a crackdown on schools and universities, where language courses would only be tolerated if justified by the presence of foreign students or as part of specific training projects. To complete the picture, the establishment of an internal committee within the Ministry of Culture to protect the language is proposed .

The backlash has been intense. Benedetto Della Vedova, the secretary of +Europa has called it “a comical proposal.” Irene Manzi of the PD party said she hoped that she was “in a bad dream”. More ironic were the comments of 5 Star Movement deputies in the Culture Committee who said, “What will Giorgia Meloni, who on the day of her inauguration proudly described herself as ‘una underdog’ in politics, think of this?”