International day of the mother tongue. Statement from the Napolitana Academy and the Institute of Valencian Studies
Naples, February 21, 2018
International Day of the Mother Tongue: protection of the Napolitano
On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day, the Napolitana Academy for the Neapolitan Language and Culture, chaired by Massimiliano Verde, collaborator of several international projects for the promotion of the Neapolitan language and culture, offers his collaboration, for the preservation of the linguistic diversity and the plurillingüisme. In response to the Sustainable Development Goals, encourages the promotion, through the millennial and universal humanistic message of the Neapolitan cultural identity, the teaching and preservation of its linguistic heritage that is an integral part of a millennial historical-cultural and artistic heritage and international. In fact, in the proposal to UNESCO to insert the Historical Center of Naples in the list of the goods of humanity, ICOMOS - International Council of Monuments and Sites - highlights the next uniqueness of Naples: UNESCO recognizes that city exceptional universal value that has had a profound influence in many places in Europe and the world. This cultural heritage is the heritage of all humanity: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/726. The linguistic heritage of Naples is a vehicle and an integral part of its cultural heritage. The Neapolitan language, for example, characterizes and is the vehicle of the famous Neapolitan song or theater (small, Viviani, De Simone, De Curtis-Toto and the Di Maio, De Filippo, Scarpetta, Giuffre families, etc.) of the history of the cinema (Notary, Sica, Troisi, etc.) - the well-known neorealism was born in Naples - from the musical and gastronomic tradition and has influenced in its material and immaterial cultural expressions the Italian artistic heritage (the last one has been "the appocundria" of Pino Daniele inserted in the dictionary of the Italian language of the Treccani). It is also the language of the cultural traditions that belong to the internationally appreciated art of the Neapolitan Nativity that is transmitted from generation to generation within (and not only) in the Historic Center of the city. The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, on the occasion of the recognition of the "art of Neapolitan pizzaiuolo" (December, 2017) uses a word that belongs to the Neapolitan language and its linguistic heritage, that is to say: "pizzaiuolo" (pizzaiolo in Italian) which refers to an art and "know how" Neapolitan, typical of this cultural community, intimately related and inseparable from the city of Naples as it has developed typically in the course of time in that community and as a universal value for the humanity. Appropriately UNESCO referring to languages in danger writes: Neapolitan language (ISO 639-3 code (s) turnip, Vitality: Vulnerable) or otherwise Italian South (following the old frontiers, not only of the language, of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies without Sicily, which has its own language) cf. www.unesco.org/languages-atlas/index.php. In Italy, this linguistic (and therefore cultural) heritage is in danger because it is very often treated and conveyed by the national media, like someone who speaks it in a low way and in a lot of degradation and is not taught, that is, it is treated directly or in allusions, mainly as the language of criminality and the ignorant, illiterate or at least sympathetic ignorant, finally in a folkloristic way.
The unique and unilaterally negative representation of the reality, cultural and linguistic of Naples as Southern Italy in general, produced by the Italian national mass media helps to spread among Neapolitan youth and children, especially pertaining to social and cultural situations at risk, a subculture that induces a dangerous domino effect in this new generation to change towards a violent way in front of the Neapolitan way of speaking.
The Neapolitan-speaking child, the Italian national education and media system is imposed (as they impose it on the family) an education to the undervaluation regarding their language or accent, as something that has to be lost, something "vulgar", degrading, ignorant. Naturally, this includes losing and undervaluing everything that belongs to the authentic cultural-linguistic heritage. It is unfortunate if we highlight the cartoons for children which (in the case of cinematographic works from abroad, translated into Italian) have a negative imprint if they have a Neapolitan accent, spots appear in characters with a clear Neapolitan accent as scammers, criminals, etc. In this way, a discriminatory representation and identification is fostered in children and among Italian children around a whole cultural, geographical and social community that and we could say "anthropological" (also in violation of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child). The education system in Italy is not interested in protecting this heritage. And this situation is reproduced abroad. In this way a mother language of universal value is lost, a Romance language spoken in its many variations throughout the continental part of southern Italy and by communities of Neapolitan origin in the world (napoleophone), a language that has a documentation written over a millennium. Let us remember in this sense the Placita Capuano of 960 d. C. when for the first time in Italy there is an official use of the vernacular language (Napolitano), for legal reasons in opposition to the Latin language, the "Epistle" of Boccaccio, considered as the first text of dialectal literature in Italy, in prose, written precisely in Napolitano, the text in the Neapolitan language of "Jesce Sole" of the thirteenth century, considered the first document of the Neapolitan song. In the Angevin court and especially in Aragon, where the cultural and artistic influence between Naples and Valencia was reciprocated, official documents are produced in Napolitano and since the fifteenth century Literature evolves in the Neapolitan language (De Rosa, Sannazaro). In Napolitano is written the universal literary work of G. Basile, "The Cuntis de le Cuntis" the first and most illustrious among the books of stories that exist in European civilization: the philosopher Benedetto Croce defined it as "the oldest, the richest and most artistic of all popular fairy tales. " This work anticipates novels such as that of the brothers Grimm and Andersen (La gatta Cennerentola is Cendrosa, Sol, Luna and Talía, La Bella Durmiente, etc.). In the 18th century, when the Napolitano also became a diplomatic language, the golden age of the Neapolitan musical school saw the light, it was appropriate to use this expression, in San Alfonso María de Ligorio, "Quann nascette Ninno" (When the Child Jesus or You eat down from the stars, in English, 1754), a true work of "evangelization" in Neapolitan language that is universally known and sung and intimately connected to the wonderful folk tradition of the Neapolitan crib (the Neapolitan language serves as a vehicle of that cultural community).
Between the 19th and 20th centuries there was an international diffusion of the Neapolitan language due to the great emigration of the Neapolitans after the year 1861, in the triumph of the classic Neapolitan song thanks to the authors and poets such as Salvatore di Giacomo (Era de Maggio, A Marechiaro), Vincenzo Russo (I 'Te Vurria Vasa), Ferdinando Russo (' O surdato 'e Gaeta, Neapolitan poem), Giovanni Capurro and Eduardo di Capua (authors of the famous' O sole mio, sung by all the great artists and the greatest tenor of all time, Enrico Caruso) and the whole epic of this musical genre, in the Neapolitan language up to Gilda Mignonette, Bruni, Trevi, Carosone, The New Folk Song Company, D'Angelo, Avitabile, etc.
The work of the Napolitana Academy, in cooperation, among others, of the Institute of Valencian Studies, aims to protect cultural and linguistic minorities through European language courses (CEFR) recognized by the City of Naples, projects social and didactic, documentary exhibitions and conferences. All these initiatives are aimed at favoring the indigenous odo-toponomastics of the city of Naples and safeguarding this unique and rich heritage mistreated and not protected.
Massimiliano Verde, President of the Napolitana Academy