Ceremonial pills: Minister ... we do not have a soup!

(To Eleonora Spalvieri)

That for some time now there has been an improper use, not to say incorrect, even in institutional language, terms referring to public offices has been ascertained: the reference, in particular, is - and I will limit myself to the terms that are more mediatically exposed - to "minister" and "mayor".

Almost in a sort of female claim - as if these were the things to count - high officials of the State of our country, and local administrators, have demanded that, when these terms were to cover the corresponding positions were women, were declined in women .

Nothing could be more wrong, given that, if in journalistic language and in common usage, albeit with extreme "patience", the use of "minister" or "mayor" could be tolerated, this is completely incorrect when it comes to 'institutional framework: each title, in fact, indicates a function or a qualification that is to be considered neutral by definition, as it can be attributed both to a man and to a woman, also in accordance with art. 3 of the Constitution, which affirms the dignity of the sexes1.

Without considering that, also from a juridical point of view, norms always refer to the body or office in its official definition, and therefore, again, to its neutral function.

The transfer of the names is instead allowed: ex. Minister, Madam Minister, doctor, but not a medical doctor, nor an engineer and engineer or councilor.

And this, even in spite of what has been argued several times by the Accademia della Crusca (so to speak: the same one that has been committed to the term "petaloso") which, when asked about it, held to "reiterate the opportunity to use the female grammatical gender to indicate institutional roles (the minister, the president, the councilor, the senator, the deputy etc.) and professions to which access is normal for women only for a few decades ( surgeon, lawyer or lawyer, architect, magistrate, etc.) as was the case with traditional trades and professions (nurse, teacher, worker, actress, etc.)"2.

On the subject, however, intervened, in an interview a few months ago issued to Adnkronos3, the president of the scientific committee of the Accademia del Ceremoniale, Massimo Sgrelli, former head of the State Ceremonial at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the highest authority on the matter, who, having stated that "disregarded institutional conduct produces negative consequences, not harmful, for the proper functioning of the institutions and therefore of the country ", he stressed that"even if the Crusca has given consent to the use of female terms - and journalistically I can understand that it is more immediate - the mayor and the minister, as a public function, are neutral terms, for which, in the use of the term in the feminine, at the limit, they could even recognize the profiles of unconstitutionality, because the art. 3 of the Constitution sets gender equality: which means we could not introduce distinctions. At this rate there is the risk of discriminating against those who are gay".

In short, at least in institutional relations ... minister ... we don't make a soup!


Eleonora Spalvieri has a degree in Modern Languages ​​and Literature. He attended the Ceremonial Expert and National and International Protocol Course at the SIOI- Italian Society for International Organization and graduated from the Italian Sign Language (LIS) at the European Deaf Academy.


1 Massimo Sgrelli, The Ceremonial, IX edition, Di Felice Editore.


(photo: presidency of the council of ministers)