English Words in the Italian Language

Parlando2Using English words in the Italian language seems to be becoming more and more popular these days unlike some other languages, which have been strongly resisting the entry of foreign words, especially those of English origin, into their 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:


  • Email = posta elettronica
  • Fan = ammiratore
  • Hobby = passatempo
  • Hostess = assistente di volo
  • Manager = dirigente
  • Meeting = riunione
  • Relax = riposo
  • Week end = fine settimana

However, English words are not the only ones to be incorporated into the Italian language. Actually, there are also many French words being used such as:

  • Abat-jour = bedside lamp
  • Boutique = small and elegant clothes shop
  • Chignon = bun (hair style)
  • Collant = pantyhose
  • Tailleur = woman’s suit

Although the use of Anglicism and Gallicism is predominant, it is also possible to find a lot of words coming from other languages, like kitsch (German), yogurt (Turkish), and kayak (Eskimo).

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. They could do the same as the French and Spanish, who have eliminated foreign words altogether, even for Information Technology (IT) terms. So, instead of using the English word computer, they use the French ordinateur or the Spanish ordenador.

staff Parlando Italiano-2But 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.

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English Words in the Italian Language — 2 Comments

  1. The simple answer is that there is no “correct word”. Language is fluid, and changes are not made in dictionaries or by authorities, they are made by the people who use it. Authorities ‘try’ to stop or direct those changes, dictionaries just record those changes…..and people carry on using the language that they want to use.

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