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A historic institution to protect the Italian language, still committed today in the new frontiers of linguistic evolution, is the Accademia della Crusca, now located in Florence, at the Medicean Villa of Castello. Its website, www.accademiadellacrusca.it, is a portal completely dedicated to the Italian language.

The origins of the Accademia della Crusca can be traced back to the decade 1570 to 1580, and to the meetings of a group of friends who called themselves the "brigata dei crusconi" ('brigade ...

of coarse bran'). They chose the name to distance themselves from the rigid pedantry of the Accademia Fiorentina in opposition to which they organized the “cruscate”, playful meetings with trivial speeches and conversations. However, literary intentions were not totally absent from these very early years of activity, which included debates and readings of some cultural value that dealt with works and authors in the vulgar tongue.

Around the year 1590, the activity of the Accademia began to be focused on the preparation of the Vocabolario (‘Dictionary’): the first authors examined were Dante in the Divina Commedia, Boccaccio in the Decameron and Petrarch in the Canzoniere; the criteria that led to this choice of authors being quoted - in Italian ‘citati’ - were coherent with the goal that the vocabulists wanted to reach: to demonstrate and preserve the beauty of the Florentine language in the 14th Century.

The sorting process did not only consider 14th century Florentine texts, both literary and non-literary, but also took into consideration more recent authors (such as Lorenzo de’ Medici, Berni, Machiavelli, Salviati) as well as non-Florentine authors (Bembo and Ariosto).

The Accademia della Crusca was refounded as an independent institution in 1811, with three main goals: the revision of the Vocabolario, the preservation of the purity of the language, and the analysis of works sent to the Accademia for the literary contest declared between 1809 and 1810.

The year 1923 signalled deep changes in the activity and functions of the Crusca: in fact in that year Giovanni Gentile, the then Minister of Public Education, prescribed, with the Regio Decreto ('Royal Decree') of 11 March 1923, the new regulations of the Accademia. These regulations heralded the interruption of the compilation and printing of the dictionary, which practically meant the suppression of the centuries-old lexicographic activity. Another decree, dated 1937, saw the Centre for the Study of Italian Philology, instituted at the Accademia, "with the purpose of promoting the study and critical edition of ancient texts and classical writers of Italian literature, from its origins to the 19th Century".

Freed in 1923 from its specifically lexicographic duties, the Accademia was able to dedicate its energies to other research activities, to editorial duties and to giving advice about the Italian language, opening new paths in the fields of grammar, lexicography and philology.

Today the Accademia della Crusca is the most important center of scientific research dedicated to the study and promotion of Italian language: its main goal is to spread historical knowledge of the Italian language, and of its present evolution in the framework of interlinguistic exchanges in the contemporary world, in Italian society – especially schools –, and abroad.

The Accademia pursues its own editorial activity, and grants the public access to a specialist Library and Archive; the Accademia also maintains international contacts with similar institutions abroad, organizes meetings, seminars and conventions on the Italian language, and has an active role in the field of European linguistic policy (especially through the project "Firenze, Piazza delle Lingue d'Europa" - Florence, Crossroads of European Languages). 

The Accademia offers the public a linguistic advice service and preserves a rich collection of artistic objects, such as the famous "pale", paintings on wooden shovels representing the emblems of the Academics. (Accademia della Crusca)

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