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A new law proposed in Italy would ban English — and violators could face fines of up to $110K

A new law proposed in Italy would ban English — and violators could face fines of up to $110K

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. But some politicians close to Italy’s first female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, are distancing themselves from the proposed law.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani assured reporters that it wasn’t a government push but the work of one politician, reports Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata. The bill was presented by Fabio Rampelli, a politician from the right-wing Brothers of Italy, of which Meloni is a member.

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.

Asked if the proposed law had a “Mussolinian flavor,” Tajani reportedly responded that “the defense of the Italian language has nothing to do with Mussolini.”

Italians voted in the country’s most right-wing government since World War II last September. For voters, Meloni represented a chance to put traditional Italians and their values first. 

Meloni has insisted she’s no fascist, just a proud conservative and nationalist. She is comfortable, nevertheless, with some of the hallmarks of Italian fascism, including a motto she often utters from podiums: “Dio, patria, e famiglia!” In English, that translates to “God, fatherland, and family.”

France is already ahead of Italy, CBS News’ Elaine Cobbe reports. Its law specifically applies to written contracts — including job contracts, property deeds of sale and rental agreements. However, a contract may include some terms in English or other foreign languages, if they do not exist in French, so long as they are clearly explained, in French, in the document.

That law applies to all government and official documents, Cobbe reports. If those documents need to be sent to a foreign third party, a translator may be hired from a list of officially-approved translators. These translators are also called on when foreigners need to provide authenticated copies in French of official documents such as birth or marriage certificates.

France also has a language watchdog – the Académie Française — in which it catalogs and fight against foreign words, especially English ones, creeping into everyday language. One example, Cobbe notes, is that while government officials may talk about a “courriel,” everyone else calls an email “un mail.”

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