Charlie and I have been living in
So, having covered some of the influences of Italian on English, albeit in a drastically brief and probably slightly crass way, shall we now have a look at the corresponding influences that English has given in return? I think it is fairly safe to say that the borrowing of English words or phrases is a peculiarly modern phenomenon, probably dating from the post-war period. At this point in Italian life, the country had been laid low by the horrors of World War Two, yet was only a few years away from the economic miracle that the 50s and 60s would bring to bear. With this boom period came all the trappings of the British and American pop cultures that were themselves taking the world by storm at the time. This era of economic stability and development heralded in pastimes heretofore unknown to the general population of Italy, who had begun to leave the hardships and penury of rural life for the promise of the new high-life in the rapidly expanding cities. So, where someone might once have gone to the market to buy some scraggly chickens and fare la spesa, now suddenly they were buying clothes and other consumer items. Somehow “doing the expenses” did not encompass the grand new activity so, in the absence of any other aboriginal word or phrase, people were now doing “lo shopping”.
This is just one example of many lifestyle words, such as lo jogging or il weekend, but there are others that have crept in over the years in all walks of Italian life. If you have ever watched football on Italian TV, then you may well have heard such classics as “sta facendo il dribbling”. In business you have joint-venture, marketing plan and you are considered all the more employable if you have know-how. As the world becomes smaller and boundaries corrode, so more and more English words will find their way into Italian dictionaries. The younger generation in Italy seems to give ever increasing credence to the UK, and particularly London, as a role model and a place many believe they would like to spend time, if only the weather were a little better... Take the weekend flight from Perugia to London and you will see many local youngsters heading over to see friends who already live there. English may never be able to match Italian for universal linguistic influence, but it is making great progress in filling up the Italian dictionary with modern day “isms” and phrases that the poor Italians never knew they had a need for.