Invading Italian

Nick Squires in Rome reports for that Italians are using—and stressing—about the growing incursion of Anglo-Saxon words and phrases into everyday use.

From ‘il weekend’ to ‘lo stress’ and ‘le leadership’, Italians increasingly sprinkle their conversations with English terms, some of them comically mangled and bizarre sounding to a native English speaker.

‘Baby parking’, for example, is a child care center or nursery.

A ‘baby gang’, on the other hand, means a group of young criminals or hoodlums.

As with the French and their use of Franglais, Italians sometimes throw in English words to appear worldly and cosmopolitan, and at other times to describe things slightly alien to the Italian mindset, from ‘il fitness’ to ‘il full immersion training’.

But now a cultural guardian of the Italian language is saying ‘basta!’ – enough.

The Dante Alighieri Society, a less strident equivalent of France’s Academie Francaise which promotes Italian culture and language around the world, has called on Italians to reject Anglo-Saxon linguistic imports, ‘Anglitaliano’, and return to the true lingua italiana.

Over the last four months the society, named after the Florentine poet Dante, author of The Divine Comedy and regarded as the father of the Italian language, asked visitors to its website to nominate their least favorite Anglicisms.

The results judge the ugliest imports to be ‘weekend’, ‘welfare’ and ‘OK’, followed by ‘briefing’, ‘mission’, ‘know how’, ‘shampoo’ and ‘cool’.

The worlds of business and politics contributed alien words from ‘question time’ to ‘premier’ and ‘bipartisan’.

Some English words that escaped the wrath of the society’s correspondents include ‘sexy’ and ‘webmaster’—but ‘water’, short for water closet or lavatory would give me pause.

So, will you take that as a problem in grande or venti?


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