This week, Italy’s Northern League once again dominates national headlines with its latest shock proposal: making the recruitment of teachers subject to a "dialect test" that would probe a candidate’s ability to speak the local language of the province in which he or she seeks work. The idea was partially withdrawn following a mixed national reception, part laughter, part outrage. However, it still resonates as one of Italy’s main midsummer debates.

In reply,La Repubblica has reviewed the state of the 6,000 dialects that testify to Italy's fragmented history. Based on a study by statistics institute Istat, it shows that "the exclusive use of dialect has sensibly decreased over time. From 32 per cent in 1988 to 16 in 2006, almost half", notwithstanding ministers of the League’s efforts to revive them in so-called “Padania” – the name the party has proposed as a possible denomination for an autonomous Northern Italy. Nobel prize winning playwright Dario Fo calls the League’s proposal "nonsense". The author of several plays in dialect is quoted as saying that what the League really wants is to send “teachers from southern Italy away using a dialect story". Rather than the League’s standard racial one.