Open Letter for the National Day of Historical Linguistic Minorities

Dear Francesco Candido,

I am writing to you in light of the National Day of Historical Linguistic Minorities to express my great concern for what is happening to the state of linguistic opportunity and equality on a national and European level. 
Being the Secretary of the “Esperanto” Radical Association, these are themes that I have been busying myself with for 24 years now; and many of our fears have, unfortunately, become a reality. 

Italy is a part of and one of the founding members of the European Union, and yet the recent exclusion from the single European patent is an indication of the ever-growing marginalization of even the “major” national languages, which can not but affect the marginalization of minor languages. 

Today what we are witnessing is linguistic genocide, denounced by numerous experts and organizations, UNESCO included, which, at this rate, will lead to the extinction of more than half of the world’s languages within the century, according to the most optimistic estimates. All this is happening greatly due to the uncontrollable expansion of the dominant language and the measures that are facilitating the linguistic colonization on the entire national territory. The auto-subordination of the national language is currently active in a number of sectors, including the education department, and is bending in favour of the cuckoo language, or English, or “Globish,” if you prefer, and it has long reached its limit and is starting to show on the great Italian identity linguistic patrimony.

The Gelmini reform has implanted the obligatory requirement of having a B2 English certificate in order to teach any school subject, including Italian and any second EU language, meanwhile 8 thousand requests for the CLIL, the teaching of a non-linguistic subject in a foreign language, were presented to the MiUR (the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research), and over 86% of these were in English. It implies the absurdity of not only of having to know English in order to teach German or even Italian, but also the fact that future students will be taught essential terminology for maths and geography in English and English only. 

At the same time, the anglonization is growing in our universities, thanks to the incentives that currently exist for all those who graduate from a course taught in English or choose to take the entrance exam offered in English. The end result of these linguistic policies, recorded in the EU Comission statistics, together with the 50% budget cut on all those organs which work towards preserving the Italian language, show that 1 in 5 Italians are semi-illiterate.

According to the data collected and analyzed by the economist Aron Lukàcs. the linguistic monopoly costs the non-English-speaking European countries 900 euros a year per capita. With the addition of an interest tax, the cost rises to 55 thousand euros a year for every non English-speaking European citizen. The linguistic discrimination against all those who are not English mother tongue in the EU is alarming, and yet it is even more worrying to see these discriminations happening inside our own country, which does not even have an English-speaking community within its borders. 

There are, however, endangered communities in our country which can not be defended because the Constitution is not even capable of defending our official language, and, instead of respecting Art. 6, Law n.48 that oversees the preservation of national linguistic minorities, it initiates linguistic collaboration policies and chooses monolingualism over trilingualism (as has already happened in the case of the single EU patent), so that Italian will become a minor language in Europe and on national territory. 

The 126th newsletter that circulated on the 10th of April, 1995, fruit of a positive meeting with the Minister for Education and 44 pages long, established that the experimental use of the International Language, called “Esperanto,” should take place in Italian schools; however, it has never been applied in practice. 

For several months now there has been a debate in Parliment concerning a new minor language, that is LIS (Lingua Italiana dei Segni), or Italian sign language. In the Italy we live in today is there really any foundation to talk about protecting minor languages on national territory, or would the foundations be put to better use by exchanging our entire linguistic and national heritage for a dry fig?

We turn to you, to the delegates of the 12 languages spoken in Italy, to the organizors and to all those present at the Day of Linguistic Minorities to which we could regretfully not participate, with the same appeal that we made to his Pontefice on the Pentecost, on June 12 earlier this year: take part formally and support the non-violent promotion of the International Language in Italy and in Europe. What we ask for is linguistic democracy and equal opportunity which can only be gained by hitting the brake on the engulfment and marginalization of the minor languages on behalf of the dominant ones, which, in the end will only unfairly support the economic superpower: the United Kingdom, which abolished the obligatory requirement to learn a foreign language in 2004 and saves, thanks to its linguistic superiority, 18 billion euros a year. 

Minor languages receive the greatest damamges, even though the impoverishment of the national language and the economic, political and cultural fallbacks are not to be underestimated. We therefore hope that you will listen to our appeal with serious reflection and consideration. 
I anticipate our gratitude and thank you for your time, 

Kind regards,

Giorgio Pagano 

Secretary of the”Esperanto” Radical Association

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