By Geralde Vincent-Bancroft
If you’ve ever studied Italian, you may have noticed that there are some words that sound very similar to English. This is because the two languages share many common roots. In fact, over the past few centuries, English has had a significant influence on the modern Italian language. Let’s take a look at how this influence has manifested itself.
Borrowed words that keep the same meaning
One of the most obvious ways that English has influenced Italian is through borrowed words. English and Italian have much different vocabularies. However, many of the words used in modern Italian have been taken directly from their English counterparts. They are sometimes slightly modified or without any changes whatsoever. Some examples include “computer”, “marketing”, and “weekend”.
Borrowed words with a different meaning
There are many other English words used in Italian where the original English meaning is lost in translation. Let’s take a look at some of these.
Toast which means in English a toasted slice of bread is instead a toasted ham and cheese sandwich in Italian.
The word Beauty means in English a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
In Italian it is simply a cosmetic bag or a toiletry bag.
Fashion means in English the most popular style of clothing, hair or behaviour.
In italian it means to be fashionable, chic, trendy.
Another popular word is box. The English meaning is a container with a flap base and sides. Whereas in Italian it is a garage for a car or motorcycle. It can also mean a stall for a horse.
Shopping which means in English the act of buying goods (food, clothes etc..) from shops is transformed in Italian into the act of shopping for clothes and personal items.
Slip which is in English a small piece of paper (like the one you receive from the cash machine) is a man or woman underpants in Italian.
It is common for Italians to borrow certain constructions from English and use them in their own speech and writing—such as using gerunds instead of infinitives after verbs or using prepositions before verbs to express ideas like obligation or necessity.
While these constructions are not always used correctly by native speakers of Italian, they are becoming increasingly more popular as time goes on.
Finally, there is no denying that the culture around English-speaking countries has had an impact on Italy as well. From films to music to fashion trends, many aspects of contemporary life in Italy have been heavily influenced by cultures outside of Italy—including those from the United States and other countries where English is spoken widely. This influence can be seen everywhere from slang words to clothing brands to popular TV shows and films.
Effects On Modern-Day Speech
Today there are still a lot of words borrowed from English that regularly make their way into conversations between native Italians—so much so that linguists have even coined a term for this phenomenon: Italo-English.
Italo-English is spoken mainly in regions of America where Italian immigrants have settled in large numbers. It consists of a mixture of various Italian dialects and the English language.
The influence of English on modern day Italy cannot be understated—from borrowed words to grammatical structures to cultural influences, it’s clear that these two languages are closely intertwined.
For language learners interested in learning both languages side-by-side, understanding how the two interact can be incredibly helpful for making connections between them and deepening your understanding of each one individually.