Writing you is Silvana Calabrese, twenty-three years old, with a degree in Communication Sciences at the University of Bari. Few people remember that in 1984, Italo Calvino was invited by Cambridge Harvard University, in Massachusetts, to deliver a series of six lectures on free subject that took the name of American Lessons. He chose to illustrate some literature values which he should save: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity and consistency or coherence. He called them Six memos for the next millennium. The author argued that the mastery of their own language was a moral and social deep value, because it’s the only weapon capable of opposing the loss of form that has infected the world, making senseless and shapeless people life, and the only tool that’s able to make so clear and crisp the nuances of thought and imagination.
Calvino called the precision which would follow the confidence, the ability to process complex and articulated speech without running into contradictions. Extolled the value of the accuracy, as opposed to the tendency to approximation that characterizes contemporary society.
At the end of the series of conferences, emerged the idea of the writer’s work as a challenge to the degradation of society with the specific weapons of the language.
This assumption, while going back to 1984, is revealed present, indeed futuristic, because it seems that Calvino has predicted the linguistic immaturity of youth, so linked to linguistic bad habits "we say" and "pratically" that spread like the plague, and exactly how the plague, they don’t discriminate by class or education level. By television journalists to physicists at Geneva CERN, many souls are affected by this virus.
The "say" is sociable: it goes to "pratically" to "roughly", the "whatever other" and "i.e.", occurring as a nightmare.
What Calvino could "we say" of this expression/pleonasm, sign of linguistic weakness that laps every day new people and don’t leave them never and never.
And then, "we say" it forever, but we know it?
At first, it’s presumptuous to use the plural if the speaker isn’t the spokesperson for a group and then, it’s a clear sign of loss of control over their own language.
But the worst phenomenon which I happened to attend is contagion: learners make large use of it and the lights follow their example.
So... don’t say (it) to Calvino.
Source “La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno”, an italian newspaper, June 25, 2010, p. 22.