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’!