August 28, 2011

Italian Accademia della Crusca Threatened by Budged Cuts


Italian language under threat from cuts, warns academy
Accademia della Crusca, a leading linguistic institute, is to lose all its funding in the government austerity drive
Tom Kington
August 19, 2011

In a summer when Italy's latest debt-driven austerity budget threatens to slash pensions, close schools and shut down local services, one woman is warning that Italians stand to lose something less tangible but in some ways far more important – their language.

Nicoletta Maraschio is fighting to stop the closure of the Accademia della Crusca, the Florence-based institute she runs which has been considered the foremost custodian of the Italian language since it published Italy's first dictionary in 1612.

Almost 400 years on, the government has announced plans to eliminate the academy's €190,000 (£165,000) annual funding as part of its cull of dozens of state-funded research organizations which employ fewer than 70 people.

The academy's small size today – just six staff and about 25 freelance researchers – belies the huge influence it had on the nascent Italian language through the dictionaries it published until the 1920s. Today the academy's scholars are studying early Italian but also offer online advice about modern Italian.

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