Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Snaps from Milan

This is another view of Piazza Duomo. The statue is of Vittorio Emmanuele II, who became the first king of the united Italy on March 17th 1861. The statue was completed in 1896, eleven years after the king's death, and portrays him in the battle of San Martino in 1859. He was in command of the army of the Kingdom of Sardegna against Austria, and it was one of the key battles in the second war of Italian independence.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


This is a post that I'd been thinking about for a while, but hearing a discussion about the use of English words in Italian on the radio was the push I needed to put it together. Inglesismi is a term that's used for English words that are used in Italian. And in modern Italian there are a lot of English words that are used in daily speech, here are some of them.

Weekend - In Milan at least (where there's generally more acceptance of foreign words amongst the younger generations) the word weekend is used almost as much, if not more, than the Italian fine settimana (settimana is week, and fine is end).

Spot - a lot of words to do with advertising have been borrowed from English. PubblicitĂ  is the Italian word for an advert, but you'll also hear 'spot' being used (also in the plural form) for adverts on TV or radio.

Computer - There isn't another word for computer in Italian. Some words for recently invented technologies, such as tablet or touch screen have also been taken directly from English. A computer is used to send Most words to do with social networks have been borrowed from English, such as twittare for 'to tweet', or taggare which means 'to tag'.

Meeting - There are a lot of words in business, including the word 'business' itself, that are English. Meeting's another word which is used even though an Italian word for the same thing already existed. Riunione translates as meeting, assembly, or gathering; not necessarily business related, wheras the use of the word 'meeting' is used purely for work meetings.

Mister - The Italian word for a sports coach or trainer is allenatore, but in football the coach is also commonly known as the mister. The use of this word dates back to when William Garbutt, an English ex-football player, became Genoa's coach in 1912, the first professional coach in the history of Italian football.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Horned Man

"A horned man's a monster and a beast" (Othello 4.1.62)

One of my English literature A Level texts was Shakespeare's Othello. Every time I hear the word 'cornuto' it takes me back to a lesson where the teacher had to explain to us why Othello saw himself as having pair of horns on his head when he suspected that his wife, Desdemona, was cheating on him. For some reason or other it stuck in my mind. It was a strange image that I'd never come across before, but now it's something I hear almost on a daily basis. I find it very interesting that what I still see as a piece of Shakespearian imagery has managed to survive from his time, and lives in modern Italian - that of the cornuto, the horned man. To put it simply, if your partner is cheating on you, it makes you a cornuto, or a cornuta if you're a woman. It's used in colloquial language, and there's a verb for it too, cornificare, which means ' to cheat on'. It's also used as an insult, a favourite of Italian drivers and football fans (the horned man in question at football matches being the referee, obviously.) There's also a gesture associated with the insult, so if you want to save your breath make your hand into a fist and stick your index and pinkie finger up. Perfect if an Italian driver gets in your way!

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Viva Italia"

This is a menu for a pizzeria/kebab shop in my neighbourhood that got delivered to me this morning. It's good to see that Italian stereotypes are alive and well...!