“Dantedì or Dante day, that is the question”
Using English words in the Italian language seems to be becoming more and more popular these days up to be part of the Italian dictionary. It appears that Italian has a strong inclination towards Anglicism to such an extent that Italian words often tend to be substituted by English ones, even when it may not really be necessary.
Here are just a few examples of cases in which the English terms are preferred to the Italian ones: computer, make-up, glamour, relax, love, sex, shock, fashion, style, weekend, team and many others.
This use of an ever-increasing number of foreign words raises many questions and people wonder why Italians don’t create equivalent words in their own language, instead of importing foreign terms.
But Italians don’t really seem to like these translations, and the debate is still open. On one side, there are those who support the introduction of foreign words, especially English words, into the Italian language, considering them as a way to show off a more international and sophisticated culture. On the other side, many linguists believe that the overuse of these words could represent a threat to the purity of the language.
Accademia della Crusca (Academy of the crusca /of the Bran), the oldest language academy in the world, established in 1583 in Florence (home of the Italian culture) are debating on how English words are despoiling the beauties of Italian. On the occasion of the National Dante Day, or Dantedì established to celebrate Dante Alighieri’s 700th death anniversary (dante alighieri , the greatest poet of Italian and world literature) the controversy of the academicians, Puritans of the Italian language, journalists haven’t appeased. They are mortified by the way English words are despoiling the beauties of Italian and are planning a fightback.
The academy’s President, Claudio Marazzini, has called a summit and is promising to set up a quick-response unit to “go after politicians, bureaucrats and journalists who bring English words into our language”.
But what sort of words are worrying them? The communications expert Annamaria Testa, enumerated hundreds, including austerity, chewing gum, download, outsourcing, public relations, politically correct, taskforce, welfare, caregiver, jobs act, bay-sitting, smart working (the latter used and soon contested by the Italian Premier Mario Draghi.
Scholars of Italian linguistics and philology see themselves as linguistic sifters (separating good Italian from bad) and they want to dispatch Italians who use hybrid versions of English words to a particularly fiery circle of hell: “footing” for jogging, “baby parking” for creche, “sexy shop” for sex shop, “mister” for football manager, “box” for garage.
“It’s too late to do something about ‘car sharing’,” admits Marazzini, “but we need to find Italian words in a hurry for ‘quantitative easing.”
The Academy motto is: “Il più bel fior ne cogli: “She gathers the fairest flower”, a famous line by the Italian poet Petrarch and it means that the purest part of the Italian language is examined and offered. Respecting one of the most beautiful languages in the world: the Italian language is necessary to defend people’s identity and history but it’s no longer possible to avoid the language of Shakespeare and Dickens in the land of Dante and Petrarch. In a multicultural society, a community needs to resort to foreign words as an alternative for easy communication.