lunedì 8 febbraio 2010

Tests for immigrants

The proposal to impose a test to immigrants arriving in Italy on italian language and knowledge about the italian Constitution has driven me to make some personal reflections. This proposal could be taken into consideration, in my opinion, but with a condition: to impose the same exam to italian citizens.

The adoption of such a test I'm sure will provide very interesting results.

I've made a small survey in the village where I live. Here about 80% of the local population actually speaks a very approximated italian: within this percentage about 30% speaks an unintelligible language they label "dialect". Writing italian is another trouble: a lot of people frequently make severe errors and a large number of adults hasn't been reading a book for decades. Many of them acknowledge to have never read a book in their life (except those at school).

Many people do not watch TV news programs because considered too difficult for their langauge and the issues discussed: the only TV programs they watch are fictions (possibly about priests and saints) and TV shows.

On these premises, their knowledge of the Italian Constitution is pure fantasy. A lot of people knows Constitution only by name, others have a very confused idea about it (it's an omnicomprehensive law). Fundamental State entities and Insitutions are seen very confusely: the parliament, the President of the Italian Republic, the Prime Minister, etc.

Local administrators and politicians are not better at all. A Mayor of a small town in the surrounding told me some years ago that italian region are 80 (they are actually 20): in many official documents I have found a lot of grammatical errors.

Maybe in other contexts things are going better and it is not correct to generalize such conclusions. But the scenario is not absolutely encouraging: I remeber that a recent TV show has evidenced the dramatic ignorance in many italian MPs.

I want to cite an anecdote. Periodically a pitchman from Nigeria arrives at my home to sell small objects: he is an engeneer and he speaks a good italian. He is also a fanatic football fan of an wellknown italian soccer club and with him I have often many discussion about soccer. I have clearer conversations in a good italian with this "immigrant from Nigeria" rather than with the majority of the people living in my village.

This is not a form of cultural snobbery, but before imposing ridicolous test to others it could be better to have a clear conscience. After all I would like to remind to many italians what the Latin writer Decimus Iuniius Iuvenalis wrote in the I century in his Satires. He complained about the excessive number of people (slaves and liberti) arriving in Rome and in Italy: they were so many to highly overcome the Romans. They were: dancers, hairdressers, cooks, skiwies, waiters, actors, singers, doctors, magicians, etc. Iuvenialis complanied about their hypocrisy, cinicism, falsity. They were occupying any aspect of roman life: they were engaged, once become liberti, only to gain money, to cheat and to steal.

Can you identify them? This mass of individuals, arrived in Italy in chains from all over the ancient world with ships together with olives, wine and vegetables, is the origin of the ancestors of many contemporary italians.

Thus, before giving lessons of race superiority, it is better to remind this...

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