Italians unite against ‘il weekend’ – lingustic reactionaries target ‘Anglitaliano’

Wadda you mean ‘il weekend’? Basta! It’s fine settimana!

The pervasiveness of the English language in our world today can be attributed to many factors, history, economy, and culture foremost amongst them. Counting close to two billion speakers, it’s easy to say that English is a global language and in many parts of the world is the lingua franca even if it’s not native language.

English shapes and forms the new trends in other languages thanks to this massive presence. One need only think of the English term “football” (soccer in North America) to see how the language has influenced other languages. The Spanish refer to the game as “futbol” and Serbs simply spell it “fudbal”. English loan words then undergo a process of adaptation to best suit the native language.

The French refer to the mixing of English and French as “Franglais” which quite often is seen as a degeneration of the native tongue. So much so is Franglais seen as a threat that the French government finances the Académie française to ensure the French nature of the French language.

As French culture has come under increasing pressure with the widespread availability of English media, the Académie has tried to prevent the anglicisation of the French language. For example, the Académie has recommended, with mixed success, that some loanwords from English (such as walkman, software and email) be avoided, in favour of words derived from French (baladeur, logiciel, and courriel respectively). Moreover, the Académie has worked to modernise French orthography.

The French have been at the forefront of the resistance to anglicisation and now have gained a new ally in Italy. The Società Dante Alighieri is taking a note from their French counterparts and is actively calling for resistance to the anglicisation of the Italian language. Phrases like “il weekend”, “lo stress”, and “le leadership” pepper the modern Italian language to the consternation of linguistic purists and nationalists who seek to ensure the Italian nature of the language. Some feel that this loan words are a product of globalisation and others suggest that dropping foreign words into a conversation implies sophistication and intelligence. Here are two sides to the debate:

“I don’t think it matters if we use English words,” said Alessandra, 25, a secretary in a Rome travel agency. “It’s part of globalisation. Often it’s faster – like using ‘il weekend’ instead of ‘fine settimana’.”
But her boss, Maria, disagreed. “People think it’s chic to use English words but I don’t like it at all. I want to speak either Italian or English, not an Esperanto mix of the two. It’s important to keep language clean.”

Preserving one’s cultural heritage in an era of rapid communication and globalisation is a worthy affair. After all, how interesting would an Italian-less Italy be? So cancel ‘il weekend’ and bring back ‘fine settimana’!

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3 Responses to Italians unite against ‘il weekend’ – lingustic reactionaries target ‘Anglitaliano’

  1. 3monkeys says:

    The argument made by Maria, that it’s important to keep the language ‘clean’, seems reasonable on the face of it, but when examined more deeply shows an ignorance of how language works, and demonstrates how formal moves to block foreign terms from a language are doomed to failure.

    After all, modern Italian is itself a creation – a language that has taken words from local dialects (‘ciao’ for example, seems to have come from the veneto) and foreign influences through trade and war.

    There can, perhaps, be no better example of the futility of the project than the development of football in Italy over the twentieth century. The oldest football club in Italy is the Genoa cricket and football club – established in the late 1800s. During the early years of fascism, the regime embraced wholeheartedly the popular game of football, though through the sport’s governing body and journalists it endeavoured to ensure that the game was described in Italian. Football is ‘calcio’ (a disingenous nod to the fiorentine game of the middle ages that scarcely resembles modern association football), and offside is ‘fuorigioco’, but fans and players alike all refer to the coach as ‘Mister’…

  2. vodkasoda says:

    Hello 3monkeys and thank you for posting.

    Linguistics shows that languages are rarely static and those that move past a primitive age constantly shift and change for a various number of reasons. You are absolutely correct that Maria’s heart rules her head on this issue. Cultural protection is one thing, but cultural change is quite often a force more powerful than armies.

    On the bright side, Italians have a strong tendency to co-opt and Italianize that which isn’t Italian….so within a hundred years, we might hear about some future reactionaries lamenting the loss of the “old italian phrase il weekend”.

  3. […] was only last week that we reported how Italians are calling for resistance to the anglicization of their language. The Italian drive is spearheaded by the Dante Alighieri […]

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