Media are a fundamental instrument in promoting and developing minority languages.
Employing the Friulian language in the press and in broadcasting, but especially in writing, is of strategic importance for the growth of the language itself. Not only does it transmit information and news, but in so doing it also sends the message that a minority language is a viable tool in all spheres of daily life, even outside the domestic domain. Moreover, it also promotes literacy by not confining it to being merely an oral means of communication.
Thus, properly used, the media can boost literacy, raise awareness and improve skills.
Friuli’s Regional Law no 29/2007, “Regulations designed to advance, promote and support the use of the Friulian language” (arts 20/23), applies to the use of Friulian in the media, namely radio, television, press and other printed works (books and magazines, including multimedia and cd or dvd material, films, works for the theatre and musicals), as well as the internet and new technologies that make use of Friulian in their work and which the regional administration encourages and supports financially through the Agenzia Regionale per la Lingua Friulana.
Law no 29/2007 supplements the previous Law no 15/1996 by adding specific regulations with regard to funding, but only concerning radio and television, leaving the Agenzia Regionale per la Lingua Friulana the job of funding other publishing and promulgation ventures by means of specific financial support notices.
Media in the Friulian language
Although the Friulian language has become increasingly common in the media over the years thanks to the advent of the internet and has shed most of its image as an example of anachronistic folklore, it is not at present able to compete with Italian-language productions, largely because it is not available on a continuous, daily basis.
The first Friulian-language periodical, the weekly “Florean dal Palazz”, was founded in 1883. The magazine was published between 1883 and 1886, totalling 170 issues and print runs of around 10,000 copies. However, it was not until 1946 and Giuseppe Marchetti’s “Patrie dal Friûl” that a more sophisticated Friulian journalism became available. This pioneering, dynamic newspaper openly campaigned for the creation of an autonomous region of Friuli and the official recognition of the Friulian language. Patrie dal Friûl came out on a regular basis until 1965, having encountered competition from 1963 in the form of “Int furlane”, a magazine that remained in circulation until 1987. The following years saw the publication of the monthly La Patrie dal Friûl (founded in 1978 and still flourishing), “Ladins dal Friûl” (founded in 1998 and distributed until 2016, when its publisher Renzo Balzan died), and INT (first printed in 2001 and remodeled as an online magazine, www.lenghe.net, between 2004 and 2009).
In addition to these magazines, the weekly “La Vita Cattolica” publishes a page and various regular columns in the Friulian language, as well as the children’s insert “Alc & Cè” (though not on a regular basis), consisting of cartoon strips, games and features in Friulian, which is also used in schools. The weekly “Il Friuli” also publishes material and games for children in its double-page spread “Maman!”. “Udinese Magazine” publishes a regular page edited by Agenzia Regionale per la Lingua Friulana, while “Voce Isontina” publishes a page a month in Friulian, edited by Società Filologica Friulana, which was also responsible for a monthly page of news in Friulian in Messaggero Veneto until June 2017. Lastly, articles in Friulian also appear on the monthly freesheet “Il Paîs”, which is also available online.
There are other periodicals published wholly or in part in the Friulian language, albeit not always on a regular basis: these include literary and scientific reviews, current affairs magazines and the in-house publications of cultural associations. Some of the publications mentioned above can be downloaded.
The use of Friulian on the radio and television is much more recent. The language was first heard on the radio in the 1960s, when Radio Trieste broadcasted the Florean and Venturin series. News and current affairs programmes in Friulian had to wait until the mid 1970s, with the “La vôs dal Friûl” (Radio Effe) radio news programme and “Friûl ch’al vîf” (Radio Effe and Radio Friuli). Radio Onde Furlane was the first radio station to air programmes in Friulian on a regular basis. Radio Spazio 103, founded in 1993, also gives considerable air-time to broadcasts in Friulian. Radio Onde Furlane and Radio Spazio 103 produce and broadcast news, information, current affairs programmes and entertainments in the Friulian language every day. The two stations have ensured continuous, high-quality coverage, even taking over the role of the public broadcasting company (for example with their radio news services), and have been able to experiment with innovative content and formats. One example is Çurviei scjampâts, a weekly live broadcast on Radio Spazio 103 that invites listeners to call in to give their views on the new Friulian emigration in a lighthearted tone and with references to the history of the “Patria”. The programme was devised and conducted by Teatro Incerto, with funding by ARLeF. Meanwhile, Radio Onde Furlane provides live commentary of sports and cultural events in Friulian. Several radio programmes are available as live streaming and as podcasts.
The first television transmissions in Friulian, aired by the private TV station Telefriuli, date from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Regional Law 15/96 in defence of the Friulian language has enabled programmes in Friulian to be extended to other local stations and to the RAI (the national public broadcaster), promoting innovation in news and current affairs programmes and cartoons. Programmes in Friulian are made and broadcasted by a few private television stations, but with no real continuity. An exception is VideoTeleCarnia, a community television station – with almost insignificant public funding – that has been broadcasting programmes on the history, traditions, current events and everyday life in Carnia and TeleAlto Bût, which explores the area and its inhabitants, with a particular interest in events in Paluzza (from where it broadcasts) and its valley.
Maman!, the first television programme for children entirely in Friulian, funded and curated by ARLeF and produced by Telefriuli, is an important novelty. The first Maman! series aired in 2016 and it has since become a regular feature of the TV station. Each new school year begins with a fresh Maman! series, whose twenty-minute episodes are broadcasted once a week. Each programme is conducted by a pair of eclectic female presenters and includes games, cartoons and special features on Friulian culture and songs – all in the Friulian language. These instalments can all be viewed on ARLeF’s website.
The information and entertainment available on the internet is in constant evolution, but this seems not to apply to the Friulian language, which is almost always overlooked by the websites of organs of communication that otherwise broadcast or write in Friulian. The same applies when the organ also has a social media profile (e.g. Facebook or Twitter). In practice the newspaper or magazine that uses the Friulian language in ordinary circumstances rarely employs it online, whether in its official website or its social profile. In their dealings with the citizenry, the regional public authorities, including the town councils, which have the most direct contact with the general public, make almost no use of the language. This means that in the end the Friulian language is confined to organs that use it on a virtually exclusive basis, such as La Patrie dal Friûl, Radio Onde Furlane and friul.net, or organizations like Società Filologica Friulana, which has a bilingual site that includes a news section, as does Associazione Glesie Furlane.