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Italian in English, English in Italian


Italian words have been migrating to English over the course of many centuries, so you'll be happy to discover that you already know quite a bit of Italian. Most musicians are familiar with musical terms such as bel canto, cello, mezzosoprano, pianoforte, and solo. Architecture has borrowed words like cupola, loggia, and stanza. If you like Italian food, there's no avoiding mouth-watering ravioli, mozzarella, lasagne, vermicelli, or porcini. And in everyday culture we speak of camera-toting paparazzi, graffiti artists, gun-slinging mafia, and the urban ghetto. So your vocabulary already consists of many familiar words that are Italian. Figuriamoci! (Imagine that!)

And because of the growing influence of American culture, especially through the media, it's a two-way linguistic street. So many English words have been adopted in Italian that there's a name for them: Itangliano (highly anglicized Italian). These words include "club," "flirt," "shopping," "spray," and "style." Sometimes it might seem that you hear more English than Italian spoken in the tourist-heavy cities of Florence, Rome, and Venice!

Ironically, there have been a series of efforts by politicians and academics to defend the Italian language against what's often referred to as italenglish or itangliano. Members of the Italian parliament launched a campaign against English phrases and syntax that were flooding into their culture and language, and threatening to kill off Italian(!). More recently, Italian officials declared war on officialese, vowing to simplify the way the state communicates with its citizens.
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