The Lottomatica people just announced this terrific new lottery game, with three winners on Day 1 garnering 4000 euro/month for 20 years (let's just say, we hope the lives of the Win For Life winners don't come to an abrupt end in around that time -- not that that wouldn't make a good thriller plot). But then, I think the term was used just to coin a phrase, and I wonder, how many of Italy's main players -- those aging seniors (and even a lot of youngsters) really know what those words mean. It never ceases to amaze me how much of English is used to sell anything, from the ridiculous M'Honey Bank card (from my nemesis, Monte dei Paschi) to cars to the very Italian Todd's.
And then a reader sent in this witty piece to put it all into perspective:
The English tend to struggle with foreign languages – which may be why they made the rest of the world speak theirs instead. So as an Englishman of a certain age, the five years it’s taken me to learn Italian have put, well, years on me.
Blunders that still make me grimace? Confusing ho scoperto (“I discovered”) with ho scopato (“I screwed") – on one of my first meetings with my future mother-in-law. Even worse was my asking at a restaurant what to do about la mancia (the tip). Only it came out as la minchia (a quite vulgar term for the male genitalia).
All that trouble to learn the world’s most romantic language and what do I find? Half of Italy has replaced it with “Anglo-Italiano”, a curious mix of English and Italian.
Accommodation for your vacation to Rome? If gli hotel are booked, lo staff may recommend un bed and breakfast nearby that is one of i top in the capital and comes with tutti i comfort. Staying for a few weeks? Then think about un residence or un loft with un big open-space.
The media is no better. Il Premier Silvio Berlusconi has allegedly been sleeping with le sexy escort after using il suo private jet to transport i VIP and le showgirl to i party at his home. It’s un altro gaffe by il tycoon and il feeling between him and voters has never been worse. Now he’s complaining about lo stress and il suo privacy.
Following il summit di G8 – which brought altri leader such as Barack Obama and le first ladies to Italy – Berlusconi called un meeting of his cabinet to settle un budget. But the newspapers have un scoop – during un briefing, he blamed Il Ministro del Welfare for the deficit reaching un record.
Or how about the soccer in La Gazzetta dello Sport? There was il derby during il weekend between i due club di Milan, AC Milan and Inter. Because il match era sold-out, i fans found it hard to buy i ticket. Milan’s No9 was il matchwinner with a goal from un corner. It led to scuffles among gli hooligan, which gli steward soon dealt with. Leonardo, il mister di Milan, was just happy to win.
But gossip and beauty magazines are the worst. Madonna non è piu single – la superstar now has un boyfriend and she and il suo partner have been spotted in un resort. Or fancy un po’ di restyling? Read all about il beauty, gli accessory-must and i color this season – sono black and white. By the way, il new look is un T-shirt extra large with un paio di jeans.
Then there’s una showgirl from un reality show, downing i cocktail in un bar, before a spot of il clubbing and then heading off with un pop star from un boyband.
But surely Italian is a rich enough language with words of its own that do the job perfectly – un albergo, not hotel; impiegati rather than staff; spuntino instead of snack.
Last year the prestigious Dante Alighieri Society launched a campaign to curb the erosion of Italian by English words. Tough job – Anglo-Italiano is now il nuovo trend…
Mille Grazie! to Ainsley Okoro for his terrific commentary on this trend...
Ainsley Okoro works for Homes and Villas Abroad.com, a property website and specialises in Calabrian property and property in Tuscany.