In our last article, we spoke about the Italian language, its popularity in the world, and how expressive it is. A truly colorful tongue, which has a plethora of words to define anything and everything, needing no help from other languages other than the Latin – and in some cases Greek – it stems from. Which brings us to a sore point – one of the few bones we have to pick with our beloved Italian Italians (yes that sounds weird, but we are referring to thoroughbreds, not mixed up folk like us who consider it absolutely normal to hold conversations with a bit of one and a bit of the other!)…….they don’t seem to appreciate the beauty and worth of their native language, and are forever introducing foreign terms into their daily vocabulary. Apparently, anything that comes from across the pond, be it the Atlantic or the Channel, is always so much cooler than the terms used here (and there are always plenty available), so in the last few years, hundreds of anglicisms have filtered into their vocabulary, and are regularly replacing their Italian counterparts.
Smart working; Stress; Briefing; Leader; Riunion; Weekend ……just to name a few. And with the advent of Facebook we now shamelessly say “Cliccare” (to click), “Aplodare” (to upload, and this one makes us literally cringe), “Taggare” (to tag) “Scrinsciot” (screenshot) and so on. People must be careful never to “Spoilerare” (reveal the end of a film or book and spoil the fun) if they wish to keep their friends…. In the business environment, where a universal language is useful in order to comunicate with the world, it is tollerable. But this “trend“, or “fescion” (other stolen goods), as well as going a little overboard, has also led to many so-called false-friends, ie. words whose definitions in Italian are totally unconnected to the original meaning. This is where the cringing for anglo-italians gets beyond painful….
Slip; simple word which means to slide on a banana skin and possibly break a leg right? Nope – Italians wear “slip” (that is plural!), or at least they do if they care about personal hygiene…..slip being pants/panties….or for British English knickers!! Could be because they can be quickly slipped on – and off?! We’ll go with that!
Golf; a popular game played with a club on a lawn right? Nope – Italians wear “golf” (no “s” added to form plurals!), when they feel chilly, a golf being a sweater, jumper, pullover. A ladies’ snazzy little number will be a “golfino”, as would be a child’s garment, and a cardigan is a “golf aperto” (an open sweater), although the word “cardigan” is also often used. This actually derives from the old English term “golf-coat”, worn during the games.
Pile; a heap, a stack of stuff right? Nope – for Italians , pile is synthetic fleece, and also indicates any garment, such as a sweater, made with this material.
Scotch; a whiskey produced in Scotland right? Nope – for Italians scotch is sellotape. Both are brand names, but whilst you can’t really mistake sellotape for anything else, if you ask for scotch in a bar, you may not get what you were expecting! Although, to be fair, Italians do know what scotch whiskey is!
Furthermore, there are words which, for some inexplicable reason, are universally mispronounced; “Management”, has the accent placed on the second syllable, and comes out sounding like “Mannaggia” – an exclamation of annoyance! Another is “Continental”, pronounced with the same error, which probably results in many an Italian requesting a “Breakfast contInental” in a hotel! No one knows who launched these bad pronunciations (maybe the media?), or why they were never corrected, but it all adds to the color we suppose!
It really is a crying shame that the Italian language is slowly being swallowed up by American and British English terminology, because rest assured that, for every foreign word introduced, there are probably three or four equally appropriate, and in some cases, more expressive native words. It is also a shame that it takes mixed up folk like us, for whom using English words is not a problem, to mourn for the lovely, musical language that Italian is.