Last updated at 16:19 GMT, Monday, 19 November 2012

Italian writer warns of English invasion

Summary

19 November 2012

A leading Italian author has warned that his native language is being dangerously undermined by the increasing use of English in everyday life. Crime writer Andrea Camilleri suggested that Italian was being subjected to a "devastating colonisation", with Prime Minister Mario Monti particularly guilty.

Reporter:

Alan Johnston

Italian Prime Minsiter Mario Monti

Prime Minister Mario Monti is a fluent English speaker.

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Andrea Camilleri is a literary celebrity in Italy. And he's best known abroad for his novels featuring his brilliant fictional creation, the Sicilian detective, Inspector Montalbano.

But the author is worried about the health of the language in which he works. Speaking earlier this week he took issue with the country's politicians for peppering their speeches with English words and phrases. Terms like 'welfare', 'governance', 'devolution', and even 'election day'.

The author said that Prime Minister Mario Monti was a leading offender. And it's true that Mr Monti does indeed frequently reach for English terminology. Here's an example from his first speech to Parliament. Listen to how he just drops in the English phrase 'best practices':

Clip of Mario Monti speaking Italian

And in the very next breath, he's at it again, sliding in that grim English term 'spending review':

Clip of Mario Monti speaking Italian

Mr Camilleri said Mr Monti's habit was just part of what he called an "awful tradition" in Italian public life. Not enough, he said, was being done to take care of the national language.

And he gave a classic example. He said that when he served on a jury for a prize given by the Italian state broadcaster at the Venice Film Festival he was dismayed to find that the official language of the judging would be English.

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Vocabulary

literary celebrity

someone very famous for their literature

took issue with

disagreed strongly with

peppering

to drop a few pieces over a surface as if with pepper

welfare

financial or other assitance to people from a government

governance

the way or system in which an organisation or government is managed

devolution

moving power from the centre (of a government) to a lower or regional level

reach for

decide to use

terminology

special words or phrases used in relation to a particular subject

drops in

casually and effortlessly uses

best practices

working methods which are officially accepted as being the best ones within a particular business or industry

at it

doing it

grim

worrying or dark

dismayed

disappointed and unhappy

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