Is It Illegal To Speak English In Italy For Anyone?

Is It Illegal To Speak English In Italy? No, despite a proposed law that the author claims will protect the Italian language, there are no limits on English.

Is it illegal to speak English in Italy - English is Everywhere

English Is Everywhere In Rome

Using a language as a weapon isn’t anything new, and in fact it has a long history of making it difficult for non-native speakers in a country to use government services and feel welcome in their new country. In the US, the English-Only movement promotes limitations on providing services to non-native speakers that are clearly aimed at putting the immigrant population at a disadvantage for becoming fully integrated into society.

Is It Illegal To Speak English In Italy?

If you read about this new legislation in Italy on social media, you might be wondering if it is OK to speak English in Italy. Don’t worry about that. According to CBS News:

“A right-wing Italian lawmaker wants to pass a law that will ban the use of English in official documents, prompting hefty fines for those who don’t comply.”

“Public employees could reportedly face fines, ranging from 5,000 to 100,000 euros (approximately $5,500 to $110,000) if they are caught using foreign instead of Italian words in any public communication. Fines could also be brought against firms that use foreign terms for job titles or schools and universities that use non-Italian expressions.”

CBS News

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The new legislation, introduced by Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, says that while the legislation encompasses all foreign languages, it is particularly geared at “Anglomania” or use of English words. According to Mr. Tajani, it “demeans and mortifies” the Italian language, especially since Brexit.

When Mr. Tajani was asked by the Foreign Press Association in Rome if the bill had a ‘Mussolinian flavor’, he said “The defense of the Italian language has nothing to do with Mussolini.”. Um…yeah, sure.

Is it illegal to speak English in Italy -  Il Fine Settimana

What About Il Fine Settimana?

Can You Work In Italy If You Only Speak English?

If you are legally allowed to work in Italy, for example if you are an EU citizen, there are no legal limitations based on your language skills that would limit your ability to work in Italy. However, individual companies will most likely have language requirements listed in the job description. Even places where you would expect English to be spoken, like at an American university site in Rome or the US Embassy, you will still have requirements to be able to speak Italian to a certain level.

Do I Need To Speak Italian In Italy?

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You aren’t required to speak Italian in Italy, but it will make your life so much easier. I was surprised how little English was spoken when we moved here to Rome because my admittedly faulty memory was that when we visited Italy for the first time more than 25 years ago, with the exception of Sicily, we could easily function in Rome, Florence and Venice relying only on English, but that has not been our experience more recently.

Is Italy Friendly To Foreigners?

Yes, and especially if you make an effort with the language. It is a great place to visit and since moving here, I have found the people extremely friendly and welcoming. As I mentioned, you will get a great reception if you learn some basics, like “Yes”, “No”, “Please”, “Thank You” and learn how to correctly pronounce Bruschetta.

Using Italian Language As A Weapon

Using very nationalist themes that are still common today, Mussolini’s Fascist regime enacted a compulsory Italianization policy. They made drastic changes by enacting various laws that were designed to enforce the obligatory Italianization of proper nouns, names of places, sports, celebrities, drinks and any name that sounded even vaguely foreign.

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Have fun learning Italian while cooking some amazing and traditional recipes from Italy. I completed the entire book and it was delicious!

Mussolini’s Fascist regime promoted Latin as a national language of which all Italians should be proud. Latin was taught in school and at least one textbook on modern Italian history was written in Latin. Latin was not meant to replace Italian, but was viewed as a language that was particularly well-suited to bearing the essence of fascism.

During the Fascist regime, Mussolini decided to ban the use of Lei (formal 2nd person singular) because of it being foreign and not “manly”. He imposed the use of Voi and restored what he thought the true Italian character was. Today, replacing Lei with Voi has become extremely rare and you might hear it only in the South of Italy and only among older people.

One Reddit User Wrote:

Voi is used as a formal pronoun more so in the south and by older generations. Although both voi and lei have been used historically as formal address, voi saw a major resurgence during the fascist era of Italy when the use of lei as a formal pronoun was discouraged.

Is it illegal to speak English in Italy -  Stores

Stores Use English


Is It A Law To Speak French In France?

The Toubon Law in France mandated the use of the French language in official government publications, advertisements, workplaces, commercial contracts and in all government-financed schools. Similarly to Canada, broadcasted music is subject to quota rules under a related law whereby a minimum 40% of the songs on radio and television must be in the French language.

Is It Allowed To Speak English In Quebec?

In 1977, A law to promote the primacy of French in Quebec was approved by the Assembly. It was bitterly opposed by the English‐speaking community. The law restricts the English school population to its 1977 level by forbidding newcomers to Quebec to attend English schools, except for children of parents assigned here for three years or less. Government language inspectors will have expanded powers to raid offices and search private computers and smartphones while investigating compliance with the law.

Are There English Phrases Used In Italy?

There are quite a large number of English phrases used in everyday Italian. Some are informally used in common speech, but others are used in official documentation and news articles. These words usually have an Italian equivalent, but the English versions are used so they can seem “cool”. Some obvious ones, pronounced with an Italian pronunciation are:

  • Marketing
  • Weekend
  • Film
  • T-shirt
  • Briefing

Other English phrases used in Italy that don’t translate exactly are:

  • Smart Working” – remote work; working from home.
  • Box” – a small single-car garage
  • Mister” – a soccer coach
  • Smoking” – most likely derived from a smoking jacket, it is a tuxedo.

There are also English words that have an Italian suffix slapped on the end of it. Many relate to social media and technology, but not all:

  • Shakerato” – shaken iced-coffee
  • Schedulato” – Scheduled
  • Clickare” – To Click
  • Hackerato” – Hacked
  • Triggerato” – Triggered
  • Bootare” – Boot (as in: to boot your computer)
  • Trollare” – To troll
Is it illegal to speak English in Italy - Burgers And Chocolate

Burgers And Chocolate

More Fun With The Italian Language And Phrases

So, is it illegal to speak English in Italy? No, and if you enjoy learning, speaking and reading Italian as much as I do, you should check out these previous posts. It is the best way to learn about a culture and become part of the society in which you live!

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