Let’s start with a series of provocative questions. How does English, which has become the lingua franca of science, leave room for other languages? And how much space does he leave? Too much, as those who want to “devalue the Italian” claim as a very weak currency in times of inflation? Or is it too little, as some scholars complain, given ruling 42/2017 of the Constitutional Court? Is it still possible to conduct scientific research in Italian and make it appreciated by those responsible for controlling the quality of knowledge? Or is there only room for disclosure? Will scholars who have completely abandoned Italian in their work be able to publish decently in a language they are not used to? What language should be chosen to convey the research and how to assess its impact on society? Is there a danger of leaving people at the mercy of false information? And what is worse, there is the danger of undermining and trampling on disciplines which by their nature use Italian, and must continue to use them faithfully: for example, to conduct research on legal, historical, archival, artistic and Italian literature? Does it make sense for scholars who do not know the Italian language to present bibliographies in which essential, essential and defining documents, written in our language, are blatantly ignored? Does it make sense to give priority to the English language in these areas? How do the symbols and styles of scientific communication change from Italian to English and back?
Multilingualism – some optimists still hope – should play a role in national assessment of research and its impact. There are international initiatives that include, at least in the declared intentions, the variant of multilingualism. But an important recent book, The Rise of English, by the American legal scholar Rosemary Salomon (Oxford University Press, 2022), shows that all of the EU’s much-adopted multilingualism policies have produced an effective push in the direction of English-only monolingualism. How do we judge the thesis of an American researcher? Will she be overly pessimistic, or is that a sad truth?
This, and related issues, will be discussed in Florence next February 28, at the 2023 second session of the Accademia della Crusca. The meeting will be titled “Italian language and science in Italy’s nature season: real boom or flash in the pan?”.
Nature Italy is an independent digital journal of Italian scientific research, accessible for free at Nature.com/natitaly. All articles are published in English and Italian.
Claudio Marazzini (President of the Accademia della Crusca) will coordinate the interventions of Maria Luisa Villa (scientist and immunologist but also an academic of Crusca) and guests Nicola Nosengo (editor of Nature Italy) and Menico Rizzi (Professor of Biochemistry of East Piedmont and member of the National Evaluation Agency of the University and Research System Anfur). And the “issue” of the nature of Italy will be in the center of attention, to strengthen its weight and importance as it deserves. We will also discuss the evaluation of research based on linguistic judgment which often pre-conditions objective examination of the contents.
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