A Dante Word a Day & an Italian Language Museum

The statue of Dante Alighieri in front of the church of Santa Croce

2021 will be defined by health and political events around the world but one more positive characterization of this year is the 700th anniversary of Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s death. Author of The Divine Comedy and credited with establishing the Florentine vernacular, Dante contributed to the evolution of the Italian language alongside his contemporaries including Petrarch and Boccaccio. Also to honor the anniversary of his death, the Municipality has decided to establish the Museum of the Italian Language to be headquartered in Florence. Accademia della Crusca, the linguistic academy in Florence which researches and promotes the Italian language, is collaborating on the project and sharing a word or phrase a day written by the poet on their website with a brief explanation.

Mayor Dario Nardella, Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini, and Councilor for Culture Tommaso Sacchi introduced the museum to the public, which will begin construction in 2021 and take just under two years to complete. The new museum will be located in a monastery in the Santa Maria Novella complex and will include four levels where visitors will have access to the museum’s permanent and ongoing collections, refreshments, workshops, and activities. The project, part of the city’s goal of urban redevelopment, will cost 4.5 million euros. 

A committee comprising linguists, philologists, and historians, many of whom are also members of the Accademia della Crusca, will work on the project to make sure the museum is accessible and and its work comprehensible to all. In the spirit of accessibility and Dante’s anniversary, the Accademia’s initiative, “Dante’s Fresh Word of the Day” will share a Dantesque word or phrase each day on their website until December 31, 2021. Each day will highlight a phrase, onomatopoeia, motto, Latinism, or neologism created by Dante followed by a short comment written by Accademia members explaining the meaning and significance of each phrase.

Academy president Claudio Marazzini explains that the initiative not only pays homage to the poet’s contributions to the Italian language but also his creativity and readability. The entire collection will also be promoted on Crusca’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages and will remain accessible in a virtual archive.

Formally incorporated in 1583, Accademia della Crusca’s immediate goal was to “clean up” the recently standardized Italian language, one that was characterized by hundreds of dialects stemming from years of evolution, cultural invasions and linguistic exchanges.  (elizabeth berry)

To learn more about Dantesque language and expressions, check out the following websites: accademiadellacrusca.it, as well as the Municipality’s website: 700dantefirenze.it.