Luciano Russo
Professional Teacher
Did you know that Italian gave English hundreds of words?
You may certainly know that Italian culture has been sensitively influential in some historical moments of humanity. If you are fond of music, it will be obvious for you to read that Italian music has been central and particularly proficous in the global musical panorama. That role of predominance and genius gave English the gift of richness in music terminology: <em>basso, concerto, opera, maestro, tempo, piano</em> and many others.
There is no doubt that this process of borrowings led to an enrichment of the high cuisine terminology and everyday's cuisine vocabulary. A significant impulse to the phenomenon was given by the thousands of immigrants coming to North America between the 19th and 20th centuries. That's how commonly used words such as <em>pizza, pesto, pasta, latte and parmigiano</em> got to be integrated into the English language. Of course, as commonly happens in borrowings the form and sound of the original word can change in order to be adapted to the target linguistic contexts. That's why <em>basso</em> became <em>bass</em> and <em>parmigiano</em> became <em>parmesan</em>. Moreover, what's also interesting, is that on the base of specific cultural and social processes a word in the target culture and language can shift from the meaning it has in the source culture and language. For instance, the word <em>latte </em>has lost the meaning of '<em>milk'</em>, which is the actual meaning in Italian. Interestingly, it still came to be associated to something which is similar or belonging to the same conceptual field. Noticing such shifts is extremely important for the job of localizator. A case which I have always found extremely peculiar is that of <em>pepperoni</em>, which is generally used to designate a pizza with hot sausage on it. As an Italian hearer, one may be led to think that English-speakers (above them all, American people) just misspell the source Italian word, <em>peperoni </em>(<em>pepper</em> <em>bell</em>), by doubling the '<em>p</em>'. It's probably a case of corruption of another word, <em>peperoncino (chili pepper)</em>, which is actually used to add spicy to the meat. Other scholars argue that it may be a word pun with the English word '<em>pepper</em>' just suffixed with a typical Italian ending, just to make it more authentic and Italian-cuisine-oriented. One fact is clear: Italian just inspired an American classic, one way or another. Do you know any other words which come from Italian?
Jun 25, 2020 1:12 PM
Luciano Russo
Language Skills
Arabic (Modern Standard), Catalan, English, German, Italian, Latin, Neapolitan (Napoletano), Spanish
Learning Language
English