Language Policy

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 289–303 | Cite as

The Accademia della Crusca in Italy: past and present

  • Arturo Tosi
Original Paper


An informal organisation that is becoming quite influential in the spread of Italian in Italy, as well as abroad, is the Accademia della Crusca which began its activities during the Renaissance, under quite different auspices. Founded in Florence in 1582–1583, this Academy was inspired by the theories of Pietro Bembo (1470–1547), a Venetian who felt that the best models for literary works were those of the old Tuscan writers of the Trecento. In 1590 its members set out to select and define the words and norms in the works of the great Tuscan writers, especially in Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. This project led to the compilation of the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca (1612), the first modern language dictionary. It was produced to provide the models of the literary language: a rationale due to the paradoxical condition of Italian, a language with a great literature but without a nation state. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Accademia exercised an editorial role on the linguistic qualities of literary texts for publication, based on the puristic distinction between those forms and words which could be included, and those considered impure which were to be excluded. The last Presidents have secured for the Accademia the new role of leader of national awareness on issues of corpus and status planning with regard to the contemporary Italian language, both in Italy and abroad. In addition, they have engaged the Accademia for the first time in language-planning activities, sometimes in support of Italian in Italy, sometimes in defence of Italian in Europe.


Language diversity Lexicography Linguistic purism Neologisms Nationalism Xenophobia Language awareness Multilingualism Lingua franca 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emeritus Professor Royal Holloway University of LondonEghamUK
  2. 2.Università degli Studi di SienaSienaItaly

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