Proprio mentre la lingua italiana si va affermando nei fatti come uno dei grandi veicoli di cultura nel mondo, essa scompare nell’insegnamento di una delle più grandi università europee, quella di Goteborg. L’allarme lanciato da un’intellettuale svedese riguarda, in realtà, il pluralismo culturale all’interno della Ue, e non solo. Questa è la prima puntata di un reportage esclusivo di Ulla Åkerström
Italian in Gothenburg
In a recent article in the roman newspaper Il Messaggero (2015-10-04), Romano Prodi speaks about the position of Italian in the world. According to statistics the language of Dante is one of the most studied foreign languages on the planet. Prodi finds this position surprising in light of the ongoing financial crisis of Italy and the small resources the nation invests in the teaching of Italian around the world. Prodi recognizes that the language is indispensable to everyone who is interested in music, art, cooking and the Catholic religion. To this one could surely add literature, history, fashion, sports and many other things. In order to strengthen the interest in and knowledge of Italian, Prodi suggests we start talking about an “italofonia”, in the same manner as the French insist on their “francophonie”, reminding us of all those countries with Italian populations – among these many nations around the Mediterranean but also Brazil and Argentina. Prodi doesn’t mention Sweden, but in fact even in the biggest Scandinavian country there are large groups of inhabitants with an Italian background. Many of them came here in the Fifties and the Sixties to work at SKF and Volvo. There are also all those young Italians who have been coming to Sweden over the last few decades for various reasons: work, adventure, an interest in Scandinavian culture or, in some cases, for love.
With Italian as one of the largest languages within the European Union, one would have thought that the teaching of the language would only increase. But instead, the University of Gothenburg, in the second largest city in Sweden with more than a million inhabitants, thinks otherwise. Three years ago the Faculty of Arts, lead by Faculty Dean Margareta Hallberg and with the support of the Vice-Chancellor, Pam Fredman, decided that Italian was a “small language” not worth paying attention to, and abruptly cancelled all its courses.
They didn’t seem to care that Italian had been taught at the University of Gothenburg since the 1920s and that there was a bilateral agreement with the University of Rome La Sapienza, that Italian should be taught in Gothenburg and Swedish should be taught in Rome. (It is still possible to study Swedish in the Italian capital.) Nor did they listen to the vociferous protests by students and teachers.
What has happened here is nothing more than a complete insult, not only to every person in Gothenburg who would like to be able to study Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio and Machiavelli in the original, but also to the Italian language itself.