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Il Forum è nato dalla giornalista Marilù Mastrogiovanni ed è organizzato da Giulia Giornaliste e dalla cooperativa IdeaDinamica, con l’obiettivo di “creare ponti, abbattere muri: promuovere una riflessione sul giornalismo delle giornaliste investigative, come presidio di Democrazia, dunque di Pace”.

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By Rosario Coluccia*

academy-cruscaI am pleased to convey to the organizers of the “1st Forum of Mediterranean Women Journalists” the most cordial greetings of the Accademia della Crusca; to them, the participants and the audience go our best wishes for good work. By proxy of President Claudio Marazzini I was supposed to attend this meeting in person: so I had committed to do, so I had assured Dr. Mastrogiovanni, with whom I repeatedly interacted. I apologize for not being present: unfortunately, on November 24 and 25 I will be at the Academy for two important scientific meetings, not scheduled by me, which could not be postponed. I would have gladly attended the Forum’s proceedings out of a definite professional interest, not out of well-mannered practice. The proposal, made explicit in the program, for a Memorandum of Understanding between the Apulia Region, Giulia giornaliste, Ordine dei giornalisti, Assostampa and regional newspapers in Apulia for the use of gender language in newspapers, TV, radio, and public administration documents is in tune with the positions repeatedly expressed by the Accademia della Crusca. I can point to concrete examples. On the website of the Accademia della Crusca(www.accademiadellacrusca.it) is much consulted the section of language consulting, a service aimed at all those seeking information and grammatical and lexical clarifications, explanations of linguistic phenomena, origin and history of words. For example, search the site for the entry feminicide, you will find there the history of this word. There you will find, in addition to linguistic clarifications, also crisply described the ethical and social implications related to the spread of this ominous neologism, unfortunately so frequent in our news. A few days ago, edited by the Crusca and the newspaper “la Repubblica,” appeared the fourth volume of the series “l’Italiano. Knowing and Using a Formidable Language,” entitled “Mayor and Mayoress: the language of gender.” It was authored by Cecilia Robustelli, who teaches Italian Linguistics at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, collaborates with the Department for Equal Opportunities of the Prime Minister’s Office and the MIUR, and is certainly one of Italy’s leading experts on the topic of gender language. Even amidst a thousand difficulties, women perform cómpiti and reach positions unattainable until very few years ago. Society changes, language registers the changes. Not immediately nor uniformly, language is not monolithic, speakers are not all the same. In newspapers sometimes within a few lines of each other, even in the same article, one time “the mayor” and another “the mayor,” perhaps referring to the same female person. Indeed, after the recent local elections, which saw Virginia Raggi in Rome and Chiara Appendino in Turin, among others, prevail, the same oscillation (the mayor ~ the mayoress) recurs in television broadcasts and debates, in daily conversations. The question arises: what is the correct form? how is it decided? or is it indifferent, everyone can do as they please? The Editor-in-Chief of “Repubblica” posted on “twitter” a photo of an article in his newspaper where it is written: “the day of mayors”; the “Corriere della sera” ruled, “And now let’s call her mayor,” adding, “Let’s avoid messes, messed-up formulas and grammatical horrors. The mayor exists and should be called mayoress.” All resolved? On this point, yes, the specific indication is correct: we say and spell mayor, without hesitation. If we suggest that we prefer mayoress (in the feminine) delicate issues come to the surface, involving not words but relationships between people. In the background is the problem of gender discrimination: often for some professions that have recently also been the preserve of women, we continue to use the masculine even with reference to female protagonists (perhaps out of laziness): “magistrate Ilda Boccassini,” “lawyer Giulia Buongiorno,” “minister Stefania Giannini,” etc. Someone objects that “magistrate,” “lawyer,” “minister,” “rector” “sounds bad”: but what does it mean? Let’s look again: Maria Elena Boschi wants to be called “minister”; but Laura Boldrini on the Parliament website calls herself “the president.” On a union’s official website I read, “Susanna Camusso, general secretary of the CGIL” (and the masculine “secretary” is repeated several times, referring to the same one); but again on the Web I find, “Valentina Fragassi, the first woman to hold that position, has just been elected general secretary of the CGIL Lecce.” Using language properly is not an Italian quirk, far from it. In France they regularly say “la ministre,” “la présidente,” “la juge,” “la conseillère”; in Germany Angela Merkel is “kanzlerin,” a minister is “ministerin.” In Spain they normally have “la presidenta,” “la profesora,” with the authority coming from the “Real Academia Española” (somewhat like the “Accademia della Crusca” in our country). Those who choose sindaca effectively employ the inflectional resources available to them from our language: mayor/sindaca, lawyer/advocate, postman/postmistress, etc., follow the normal alternation of masculine ~ feminine gender, expressed through the -o and -a outputs. Don’t we already say, without fail, teacher, nurse, model, cook, professor, etc.? Why should we be shocked at mayor or engineer? Society changes, women attain positions and professions once barred to them (it matters that they act well, perhaps better than men); language, appropriately, takes note. It is up to us to adapt to the times, simply.

Still good work

*It deals with ancient texts, southern linguistic history, lexicography. He published for Mondadori’s Meridiani the first critical and annotated edition of the Sicilian-Tuscan Poets.
He is a reviewer for LEI (Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken) and DERom (ATILF-Université/CNRS, Nancy). Serves on the scientific committees of “Medioevo Letterario d’Italia,” “Bollettino Linguistico Campano,” “Bollettino del Centro di Studi filologici e linguistici siciliani.”
He served as president of ASLI (2006-2008). At the University of Salento, he held various institutional positions.

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