Italy is home to people from all over the world; in some cases, migrants continue to speak their mother tongue. These people create minority languages, which Italy safeguards and protects.
What does the term ‘minority language’ mean?
The term ‘minority language’ generally refers to a group of people who speak a different language to the official one in the country they reside.
Although this definition might make you think of people who speak foreign languages, Italy is also home to lots of dialects (such as Neapolitan). People who only speak a dialect also belong to a minority group.
What are some of Italy’s recognised minority groups and languages?
Italy’s minority languages are generally found in border areas such as Val d ‘Aosta, where a large German-speaking community resides.
Communities that have long been established in Italy (such as Greek and Albanian communities) but continue to speak their native languages are also recognised as minority groups. For example, Griko is a variant of Greek spoken in some areas of Salento.
In other cases, places with a geographical and historical identity that differs from Italy’s, such as Sardinia and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, are home to their own languages, which have protected status.
Italy’s official minority languages are: Albanian, Catalan, Germanic languages, Griko, Croatian, French, Provençal French, Occitan, Ladin, Friulian, Sardinian, and Slovenian.
How does Italian legislation protect minority languages?
Protecting minority languages is an integral part of Articles 2, 3, 6 and 8 of the Italian Constitution.
These articles establish wide-reaching, specific regulations on the public teaching of minority languages with protected status.
In 1999, the constitution was amended to allow the oral and written use of protected languages in public sector offices in locations where minority languages are spoken.
These territories also use bilingual public and road signs, thus enhancing their traditional toponymy.
Finally, people who wish to do so can exercise the right to use historical first and last names with roots in a minority language that were forcibly ‘Italianised’ in the past.
Given its cultural and linguistic wealth, people often require official documents to be translated into recognised minority languages in Italy. This is a sign of respect and inclusion that has been rooted in Italy’s legislation since its birth.
At Eurotrad, we pay particular attention to translations from Italian into minority languages as we are aware of the cultural importance of appreciating all languages. Send us your texts to translate and we will provide you with a timely and accurate quote.