THE TEMPLE OF LANGUAGE

INSIDE CRUSCA ACADEMY

2011

During the years between 1570 and 1580 a group of erudite friends started to meet and called themselves “brigata dei crusconi” (“coarse bran brigade”). They discussed about literary themes but, in order distance themselves from the stiffing attitude of Accademia Fiorentina, they used a trivial language and funny approach to their meeting, for that reason called cruscate (eng. something about bran).
This group was formed by Giovan Battista Deti, called Il Sollo (every nickname was related with flour and bread processing themes); Anton Francesco Grazzini, called Il Lasca; Bernardo Canigiani, called Il Gramolato; Bernardo Zanchini, called Il Macerato; Bastiano de’ Rossi, called L’Inferigno.
In 1582 Lionardo Salviati, called L’Infarinato, joined the group and started to give it an organization and a task. Preserving the connection with the processing of flour they decided since then the task of the group would be “to separate the flour (the good language) from the bran (the bad language)”, following the language model, first advocated by Bembo and then by Salviati himself, based on the supremacy of the Florentine vulgar language, modelled on authors of the XIV century, compared to other Italian dialects.

The 26th January 1583 the first meeting of the brand new Accademia della Crusca took place, during that the Academicians decided the laws and the statutes of the institution. Two years later there was the official foundation ceremony of the Academy.
In 1589, year of Salviati’s death, the various roles inside the Academy were established, and a year later, the “frullone”, a vessel used to separate flour from husk, was taken as the symbol of the group together with the motto “il più bel fior ne coglie” (“she gathers the fairest flower”), from a Petrarca verse. Similar to other institutions of that period they decided to follow the theme chosen for the Academy in every single aspect of their work, objects and furniture inside the Academy were built in order to remember items used in bread processing, every single Academicians also had a “pala”, a bread shovel, painted with his nickname, an image linked to that and a motto related to his activity generally took from Dante’s or Petrarca’s works. The first important work by the Crusca Academy, was the “Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca”, printed in Venice during 1612.
That dictionary was even fundamental not only because instituted the first collection of word of the Italian language, at those time not even established as a proper language used by all the population of the nowadays Italy, but because it was the first Vocabulary based on a meticulous lexicographic work to prepare every single voice that composed it.
For this reason it became an example, also followed today, for every future Dictionary in the world.The "Vocabolario" had another three edition till year 1783 when Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, following the various trouble of the Academy, decided to close it and amalgamate with Accademia Fiorentina and Accademia degli Apatisti.
The works for its last edition, the fifth,started in 1811 after the reconstitution of the Academy decided by Napoleone Bonaparte, was very long and the last volume published remain the eleventh, closed by the word “ozono”, just before the dissolution of the Academy under the ministry of Giovanni Gentile, in 1923.

Nowadays one of the tasks of the Academicians is to recover old notes from their past centuries colleagues and produce a fifth complete edition of the Vocabulary.After its reconstitution the Academy become the most important Italian centre of scientific researches dedicated to the study and the promotion of Italian language. Its main tasks are to spread historical knowledge of the Italian language and to follow its present evolution in the framework of exchanges with other language, technical and scientific language. During august 2011 the Acamedy risked to be closed for the third time in its history.
The heavy budget cuts imposed to Italy by the economic crisis and EURO currency crisis moved the minister Tremonti to not refund the Academy activities. The first consequence would be the closing of the organization base, without government funds there wouldn’t be money to pay employees that run the everyday activity of the Academy.Fortunately the cutting measure was retired but the Academy, as said its president Nicoletta Maraschio, suffers for a permanent lack of funds maybe could be solved by its recognition like a public organization normally financed by the state. Obviously the research activity continue even by money coming from private institution, but normally they are interested in great authors that could publicize their investments in culture, not in small works that even represent one of the most important research field of Academicians.



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