This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for July 23, 2016: Elegy

July 23, 2016: on this day: Fascist government in Italy bans the use of foreign words

On this day in 1929, the Fascist government in Italy banned the use of foreign words. Regional dialects were still so prevalent when Mussolini came into power in 1922 that no more than 12 percent of the population of the unified state spoke straightforward Italian. The regime wanted to promote unity and a strong national identity, so anything that was seen to undermine these things was a cause for concern. French and English words and phrases were particularly popular; where possible, the government required the use of the Italian equivalent, and if one didn’t exist, they made the foreign word as Italian as possible. Wine from Bordeaux became known as Barolo; a movie, formerly known as “il film,” was now called “la pellicola.”