January 2021, Year XIII, n. 1
Italian: A Language without an Empire
Telos: Dario Franceschini, Minister of Cultural Heritage, announced the creation, and funding, of the Museum of the Italian Language last August. This was like a bolt of lightening in a clear blue sky. You are the coordinator of the National Committee that is planning this museum. Could you tell us about it?
Luca Serianni: Various other languages in the world have a museum that illustrates their history and current relevance: German, French, Lithuanian, Basque... There are a total of 65 such museums scattered throughout the world.
And in 2018 the linguist Giuseppe Antonelli, who is on the committee, published a successful book with Mondadori called Il museo della lingua italiana. Of course, it won’t be a museum with a lot of stable artefacts (the handwritten texts are jealously guarded by libraries, as they should be, along with the portraits of the people who have impacted the history of the language, from Pietro Bembo to Alessandro Manzoni).
It will mostly be an interactive museum with a network structure offering several different itineraries, not merely chronological, although the various moments will be arranged according to their time in history. There will also be a fun dimension ...more
2021 is here at last. And it’s loaded with expectations – really loaded. It’s a very important year for the Italian language, because this year we’ll be celebrating the 700-hundred-year anniversary of Dante’s death. So who better than Luca Serianni to have as our guest for the January issue. Prof. Serianni has dedicated his entire scholarly life to the Italian language. Italian, the “language without an empire”, as defined by linguist Francesco Bruni in 2001.
After all, it was Monti, quoting Horace’s Graecia capta, who wrote that “of languages it isn’t the strength of weapons that settles disputes, but the strength of writings, repositories of human thought and of all the oracles of reason, whose strength lies mainly in words.” In 2020 Serianni was also appointed to coordinate the work on the Museum of the Italian Language. So he talks to us about this project – the 66th museum of its kind in the world – as well as a few opportunities to rediscover Dante and Dante-related initiatives in 2021 you shouldn’t miss ...more