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The ‘Let's Choose Three Words’ project
Portal of the Italian language

The ‘Let’s Choose Three Words’ project

Categories: Uncategorized -Language and education

Meetings dedicated to students and teachers at the participating schools.

Scegli tre parole
Scegli tre parole

There are eight overseas schools registered for a new educational project promoted by the 5th Office of the Directorate General for Public and Cultural Diplomacy of MAECI: the Italian State School in Athens, the Leonardo da Vinci Scientific High School in Paris, the Italo Calvino Italian School in Moscow, the Italian section of the Third Lyceum School in Belgrade, the European section of the ‘A. Einstein’ Gymnasium in Berlin, the Dante Alighieri School in Córdoba, the Alessandro Manzoni Italian Cultural Centre in Buenos Aires and the Italian section of the United Nations International School in New York.

On May 16th and 17th, two on-line meetings were held between the students and teachers at the participating schools and Professor Ugo Cardinale, the linguist, lexicographer  and author of the book ‘Stories of new words. Neology and neologisms in a changing Italy’.

The two meetings were an important opportunity to discuss the theme of neologisms and an occasion to share useful information and indications on how to go about working on the project.

Professor Cardinale explained how new words are the lifeblood of language, which is destined to die if it does not evolve. Indeed, by its very nature language is prone to change and in order to keep up with progress, it must reinvent itself – Who decides whether a word will be accepted or not? – The answer is use and it is the speakers who decide whether to accept or restrict innovations.

Cardinale then explained the mechanisms underlying the formation of new words, which can be ascribed to causes that are both internal and external to the linguistic system,, recalling the sentence of the famous linguist Ferdinand de Saussure: ‘un système où tout se tient’ (‘a system where everything coheres’).

From apericena (aperitif-buffet) to ‘tanta roba’ (dope, awesome), up to the unwitting loan of the word lockdown, many words were analysed and discussed; and to those asking how to use the loanwords in a conscious and adequate way, Cardinale replies that ‘language is a cultural asset’ that must be protected and it is necessary to study it in order to do so.

After the two days of meetings, Professor Cardinale expressed enthusiasm for the new initiative which sees young people as the ultimate protagonists, since they are the first architects of language renewal, thanks to their curiosity and linguistic creativity.

It was a beautiful and touching experience. Seeing so many students of Italian schools in different corners of the world engaging enthusiastically in discussions about the Italian language  and stimulated by curiosity for neologisms gave me quite a thrill and confirmed my trust in young people and in the possibility of giving impetus to our culture in the world. The MAECI initiative, which succeeded in taking my proposal in its embryonic state and in developing it with the support of motivated and trained teachers, makes me confident in the institutions’ ability to be proactive when they are led by intelligent and engaging people who are devoted to the interests fo the community. I look forward to seeing the results!

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