Encyclopedia of Language and Education

2008 Edition
| Editors: Nancy H. Hornberger

Language Survival and Language Death in Multilingual Italy

  • Arturo Tosi
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30424-3_225


Although Italy's widespread multilingualism is usually attributed to complex historical circumstances, it is largely rooted in its geography (Savoia, 1997). Once the great barrier of the Alps has been surmounted, there are then the massive Apennines which run from the northwest to the south of the peninsula for nearly 1000 km, being as wide as 50–100 km in some parts. Tortuous routes and severe weather often impede communication, increasing the isolation of many communities. The result today is a country with a rich linguistic mosaic and cosmopolitan spirit, but one where rival local identities still flourish (De Mauro, 1996).

This paper provides an overview of the linguistic transformations in the Italian peninsula since political unification in 1861. It aims to present an account of language policies and their effects on language change, focusing on five dimensions: (1) the spread of Italian (Early Developments), (2) the impact of education (Major Contributions), (3) the...


Language Policy Language Education Minority Language National Language Bilingual Education 
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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arturo Tosi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LondonEghamUK