LEI aims to document and etymologically comment on the entire vocabulary of Italoromania from a historical perspective. The project was founded in 1968 by Max Pfister. Since 2001 it has been managed by Max Pfister together with Wolfgang Schweickard. So far, 16 large-format volumes have been published. The LEI can also be accessed online via open access at a later date than the print output. LEI enjoys an outstanding international reputation.The project leaders were awarded seven honorary doctorates by the most important Italian universities. They are members of the Italian National Academy in Rome, the Accademia della Crusca in Florence and the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, among others.
One of LEI‘s most important concerns is the promotion of young talent. Numerous young scientists trained at the LEI can now look back on outstanding academic careers. Several doctoral theses written in Saarbrücken have been honoured with the “Premio Giovanni Nencioni” in recent years. The LEI has been digitized at the University of Mannheim under the direction of Prof. Elton Prifti since 2015. In the first phase of the long-term project LEI-Digitalale, the retro-digitisation of all data material (over 5 million index cards) and the published articles was completed.