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Wednesday, 20 September, 2000, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
English threat to Italiano
Colosseum in Rome
Italy, a hot tourist spot, fears cultural attack on its language
Italy's lawmakers are meeting to discuss concerns about the growing number of English words that are infiltrating the Italian language.

More than 4,000 foreign words and phrases have found their way into the latest edition of an authoritative dictionary of the Italian language - Devoto-Oli.


Politicians and intellectuals are infuriated by entries such as 'outing', 'pub', 'film', 'transgender', and 'blockbuster'

The legislators will discuss why Italian translations could not be found.

Critics accuse politicians of exacerbating the problem.

At its last convention, the ruling Democratic Left Party adopted the English phrase 'We Care' - instead of the Italian equivalent 'Ci preoccupiamo'.

Court fines

Politicians and intellectuals are infuriated by entries such as 'outing', 'pub', 'film', 'transgender', and 'blockbuster'.

The new entries amount to nearly 4% of the total words in Devoto-Oli dictionary.

Critics complain that not enough effort was being made to coin new Italian words instead of borrowing foreign ones.

Brian Barron, the BBC correspondent in Rome, says one member of parliament is proposing draft legislation which would ban the use of foreign words in all official documents and pronouncements.

Violation could lead to fines of up to one million lire ($500).

Sexist grammar

Italy's La Repubblica quoted Vittorio Sermonti, an authority on the medieval writer Dante saying he objected to "contamination" when Italian words were dumped merely for modernity.

"I think the moment has arrived to put an end to this excess. It is really too much," Mr Sermonti said.

The Italian parliament has unsuccessfully tried to limit the spread of English twice since 1997.

Italy's Commission of Equal Opportunities has called a meeting next week to consider changes to the Italian language because of its supposedly sexist grammar- with a bias for the male gender.

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18 Sep 00 | Education
Swiss shun French for English
12 Aug 00 | Education
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