Language: Dethroning Dante

For 700 years, Italian language purists have held that if a word cannot be found in Dante's Divine Comedy, or did not evolve from Dante's Italian, it isn't really a word at all. This scruple and others have so seriously hobbled lexicographers that they have not been able to bring out a comprehensive Italian dictionary since 1811. Now, overriding all impediments, Italian scholars are finally compiling a modern dictionary.

Actually, Dante's Italian has seldom been spoken or written except by elite men of letters, diplomats, philosophers and scholars. The masses speak various...

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