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Comments from John Walker on the Situation in Italy

This is some commentary from John Walker on what's happening in Italy (his partner is Italian):

I had a conversation with a friend in Italy, the motives for LMG is a little more sinister. Members of the upper house were influenced by the organisation representing parents of deaf children and the equivalent to the national health service. They are nervous that money will be diverted from their budgets in order to pay for this decree (it is not equivalent to the 'recognition' we have in the UK, there is money attached to this decree). Their strategy is to replace LIS with LMG.

The key emphasis that is at play here is the letter 'L' in the acronyms:
Lingua (as in LIS) - a language;
Linguaggio (as in LMG) - a pan term to describe all forms of communication including flowers, bees, morse code, gestures, signs, languages etc. I am not sure if we have a direct equivalence in English.

Furthermore, LMG is what signed language was called many years ago as the word 'sign' in Italy did not come close to what we know of signed languages today - it was nearer to display signs. It wasn't until CNR researched the semiotic features of signed language in Italy that the
word of 'signs' came into the dictionary. So the upper house are using an 'old' term for something that is lower classed, vague and without full clarity that the language of deaf people in Italy is a bona fide language.

The change for LMG will lower and water down the original decree.

This explanation shouldn't be misconstrued with 'Sim-Com', as this is not what LMG is. The distinction is closer is the difference between American Sign Language and 'America Visual Communication' - the difference loses the political dimension of a language that represents
a community in Italy.

For those who were asking about the text on the Italian Parliament website, appearing to support LIS:

... there is no actual source to the LMG proposition as it was received as part of a consultation exercise. The report from the consultation hasn't been published yet because the process hasn't finished. It just needs a line to say "any other descriptions of LIS that fall short of a language, eg. LMG, should not be considered.

On the morning of Wednesday 25 May 2011, I got:

Some news from Italy.

They have had some meetings yesterday - I am aware that ANIOS (association of sign language interpreters in Italy) have had their meeting. They were very professional about. The response wasn't as good as they hoped. Their political support were not showing signs of enthusiasm for the decree. FIADDA, NDCS equivalent in Italy, were throwing lots of wild Milan-1880-type comments. Unfortunately it has left seeds of doubt in the MPs' minds, when they are already nervous about their tight budgets. It is doubtful that the decree will go through as it stands and the lower house will dig in their heels.

This news makes the work we are doing even more important to tell the Italian Government that we mean business. Especially as they have more meetings today. ENS (Italian Deaf Association) has their own meeting at some point, not sure when.

And more information from John last night:

The original decree (DDL) has been passed through the Senate and how now returned to the House of Parliament for its first round of consultation. The first people to be consulted were those of medical professions and FIADDA, the organisation representing parents of deaf children. It was here where LMG was raised. The motives for the change is not explicit but we are aware that there are concerns over two issues: the cost of a language law and political pressures from families (Italy has a cultural relationship with 'la familiglia'). FIADDA, in particular, has no interest in signed languages or bilingual education, they advocate only the pure oral method and the normalisation of deaf children. The shift to LMG is politically motivated in order to water down the original decree.

The emphasis for you is the potential impact LMG on the political status of signed languages throughout the world. If we were to reach a situation where LMG was accepted as law, it would create a precedence for other Governments to follow suit. This is the reason for the proactive stance on LMG.

See also:
Press Release from FIADDA Tuscany
Deaf Londoners Preparing for the Protest at the Italian Embassy
Press Release from the Irish Deaf Society: Vigil at the Italian Embassy, Dublin
Note from Terry Riley, Chair BDA to those Protesting
Press Release from the Belfast Protest in Support of the Italian Deaf Community
Italian Embassy Events on Wednesday 25 May 2011
How You Can Support the Italian Deaf Community
Letter to the Italian Parliament from Dr Steven D. Emery
Protest at the Italian Embassy in London this Wednesday
Letter to the Italian Embassy in Dublin by Dr. John Bosco Conama
Italy might as well say: Deaf People use Monkey Language!
International Petition to Support Italy & UK Protest

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