Italglish Update

10 Oct

Reading a magazine recently, I saw “checkare la mail” for the first time. (Translation: check email).

What? We can now say “checkare”? Since when? I must be so old-school, going around saying “controllare” which I THOUGHT was the Italian verb for check. Hmmm…

Not too long ago when I was waiting in a piazza to meet a friend, I was eavesd… ahem… I inadvertently overheard a man on his cell phone, telling the person on the other end that he needed to “downloadare” a program for his computer.

Wait! Stop the insanity! We can say “downloadare” now too?

I recently also became aware that people are saying “faxare.” Maybe that’s an old one. I kept saying “mandare via fax.”

I don’t know, call me old-fashioned. I just don’t think I’ll be able to manage “checkare.”

Hey, all you Italian speakers out there! Do you use these ones? What are some other English verbs that you know of that have mysteriously morphed into Italian ones with the simple addition of “are”? And speaking of that, how do they decide that it’s “are” and not “ere” or “ire”??

I personally believe this is an evil plan hatched just to confusare all of us who have spent endless time and money learning Italian, only to discoverare that they decided to changeare all the Italian verbs to easy-to-understandare English hybrids.

And of course, half the time when the words are in English and not just verb hybrids, I have no idea what the heck they even mean. People look at me funny and go, “How is it possible that YOU don’t know what they mean? They come from English!” (Dummy!) And I stand there and go, really? I mean, let’s not forget my tyrade on this from last year, Going Footing in Your Smoking. How many of you ENGLISH speakers who don’t speak Italian might know what that could possibly mean? Go ahead, take some wild guesses!

I heard that in France, they are so protective of the language that they only allow a certain percentage of non-French songs on the radio. I’m not calling for that level of control, but I think this increasing hybrid thing is starting to confuse me, the native English speaker, more than the Italians!


32 Responses to “Italglish Update”

  1. Giulia October 10, 2007 at 11:35 am #

    OK, this has nothing to do with with adding “are” to the ending of English words, but lately I’ve noticed lots of people using the word “chance,” yet prouncing it… shawnce. Try saying the word Shawn, and add “ssss” to the end of it. Really irritating when I hear it prounounced that way. I always want to correct, but then I think of how I hate being corrected, so I leave well enough alone. 🙂 I honestly think it has a lot to do with American/English shows being so readily available in Italian households today. Looks like Italglish is here to stay.

  2. KC October 10, 2007 at 12:14 pm #

    I hear shawnce often too. I really hate “look,” which I usually hear pronounced like “luke,” but I think “feeling” has to be the absolute worst.

    But back to the -are on English verbs. My husband has taken to saying stoppare when he refers to pausing the dvd player. I’ve never heard it anywhere else and I don’t know if he’s just using it to be cute. He works in IT but would never say “ceckare l’email” or “downloadare.” He does say “fare il download” with “load” pronounced as two syllables. Yikes.

  3. Jen October 10, 2007 at 12:31 pm #

    The French say “le smoking” as well — it’s an abbreviation of “smoking jacket”. The term “tuxedo” itself comes from Tuxedo Park, New York, a locale favored by wealthy socialites in the early 20th century.

    The French also put “le shampooing” (sham-PWAN) in their hair. If they simply used French spelling instead (“le champouin”) the way that Italians do (“lo sciampo”), they could have avoided the unfortunate appearance of needing to take hygienic cues from their neighbors across the Channel.

    But hey, the English lifted the word “shampoo” from Hindi. Which brings to mind the following exchange…

    Reporter: What do you think of Western civilization?
    Mahatma Ghandi: I think it would be a good idea.

  4. romantales October 10, 2007 at 1:40 pm #

    How about chattare?

  5. nyc/caribbean ragazza October 10, 2007 at 1:54 pm #

    This is hilarious. Does this mean I need to lookare for a new dictionary?

  6. Cinzia October 10, 2007 at 1:55 pm #

    Shelley, have a look at this forum and laugh at us.

  7. Virginia October 10, 2007 at 3:00 pm #

    Hello! I’ve never heard checkare!I say downloadare, googlare, bloggare,chattare, postare… languages are always evolving and contaminating each other!

    I prounonce chance like Giulia find incorrect: it’s French!!

    I think that stoppare is an italian verb from many years: i’ve found it on my mum dictionary from the 60’s

  8. kataroma October 10, 2007 at 4:21 pm #

    The computer ones are the funniest – and it’s hilarious how after so many years of English lessons at school, Italians still insist on completely mispronouncing English works in Italian. For example – I heard some people recently talking about downloading stuff from the computer using “eh-moo-leh”. Turns out they meant “emule” (ie as in “forty acres and a…”) which is the successor to edonkey (I wonder how they pronounced edonkey come to think of it.)

    “Mail” (pronounced “mayyl”) drives me nuts too – it’s Email – “mail” in english is “la posta”. And when people stay “stage” (“stazh”) to mean internship it drives me nuts too (if they are speaking English – if they’re speaking some other language ok). Stage in English is palcoscenico in Italian. I can’t believe how often Italians who speak decent English mix that one up. I wonder what language “stage” comes from – maybe French?

    Oh, one more – BF watches a LOT of football and have you guys noticed how the allenatori are always referred to as “meeesterr”?

    No idea what “footing” is and I’ve lived here 2 years. Maybe something to do with football or playing footsie? No idea.

  9. Enrico October 10, 2007 at 7:37 pm #

    Stage is French but almost everyone pronounce it the English way. As others have said we have borrowed “chance” from French, not English, and we pronounce it accordingly.
    I don’t like using foreign words when not necessary, but sometimes it’s so much easier to use the English word instead of a ten word giro di parole (how does that translate?)!
    Other words that I hear frequently: testare, scannerizzare (or even scannare which is not a nice word!)implementare (I still don’t understand what that’s supposed to mean). Shelley you can’t go wrong: “are” is the suffix to use.
    There are hundreds of English words we use daily: “know-how”, “manager” which I heard pronounced manàger (!?) the infamous “call center” and my absolute favourite: “question-time”! “interrogazione parlamentare” was so dull…

  10. Kataroma October 10, 2007 at 7:55 pm #

    oh and we shouldn’t forget “family day”. I’d probably have to be Italian to understand why that had to be in English.

  11. finnyknits October 10, 2007 at 10:36 pm #

    I will try not to run all around willy nilly smashing English and Italian verbs together just because you’re saying it happens all the time. Just don’t worry – I’ll try hard.

    But, I’ll tell you what, this happens a LOT with Spanish in California. For instance, “car” is *supposed* to be “coche” in Spanish, but chat it up with any Spanish speaker in CA and it’s “carro”. Meanwhile, truck “carro” is “trukka” and cell phone “teléfono portátil” is “el cell”.

    I think it’s obvious that English is eating other languages. Stay strong.

  12. squiggy October 10, 2007 at 10:58 pm #

    Hilarious! Let’s not forget “dribblare” which is dribbling both in basketball & soccer. And another sport word “skaitare” which means skate as in skateboarding.

  13. Christina October 11, 2007 at 1:05 am #

    Back in the day I worked as a manager at Home Depot and one of the plumbing associates came up and asked if I spoke Italian or understood Italian. I said that I didn’t, but because they were stuck (couldn’t find anyone to translate) I said I would help. Turned out they spoke ENGLISH fine… except with a heavy Italian accent. So their questions were all “Where-a canna finda butonne for la faucet-ta.” And NO ONE could figure out what they were asking for. (Button for a faucet anyone?) After that, I proclaimed myself a translator of Engla-talian.

  14. sonyaustraliana October 11, 2007 at 1:41 am #

    A very good topic Shelley!

    Yes I think it’s inevitable that Italian is going to adopt English words, especially when talking about things that have been adopted from English- speaking nations. I think it’s interesting when they start using these words in the mass-media because it sort of gives them a ‘stamp of approval’ from those who you would expect to have some type of university education. To look at the other side of the coin, Italian has also copped it’s fair share of mispronunciation – eg

    Pizza – pronounced usually ‘peeeeeza’

    latte – laaataay (man I cringe when I here this at my local Aussie coffe shop!)

    bruschetta – ‘brooshketta’??? Please tell me it’s ‘brusketta’?

    dolce & gabbana – ‘dolchay and gabana’ That extended ‘ay’ makes me ill (very Kath & Kim for those Australian readers)

    Anyway I can go on.
    Good topic – always love the language posts 🙂


  15. Stacy October 11, 2007 at 3:13 am #

    I am so confusare! what what what? lol its bad enough trying to learn Italian and then they throw the Italglish in! sigh

    My Italian is in IT too but he’s never used downloadare or checkare. hehe I am going to have him do some investigating. lol

    Hilarious postare!

  16. Nella October 11, 2007 at 8:23 am #

    I think adding the ‘are’ is a reverse derivation thing. As in this example: did you know the verb ‘to edit’ comes from the noun ‘editor’? Yes! Editor came first, then came To Edit.

    My ‘Are’ theory: It started with the internet when the Italians decided to turn CLICK into CLICCA. (Clicca qui) Clicca, ending with ‘A’ must naturally be an ‘ARE’ verb and soon all foreign verbs entering Italian become ‘ARE’.

  17. Shelley, At Home in Rome October 11, 2007 at 11:06 am #

    Great discussion! Your comments had me smiling, and lots of you came up with words I hadn’t thought of. Take a look at my post from last year (linked in this post) for more, esp. for the definition of footing! And, for the Italian version of the rap from Fresh Prince of Bel Air… always good for a laugh.

    You know, with all the examples of words from French or other mispronunciations of English words, I have to admit that I now pronounce them that way too. Here’s a great post from Tracie B about how to pronounce cracker. I feel kind of silly when I do it, but honestly it’s the only way to get people to understand what you mean. I think the ones that get on my nerves the most (and luckily I don’t ever have to say them) are badge (pronounced beige) and club (pronounced kleeb). So bizarre. I love the coach being called “meeester” … why not just coach? Probably because it would have become CO-atch, two syllables. Like download, which like KC pointed out is down LOW-AD. Argh. Fingernails on the chalkboard!

    I enjoyed the Beppe Severgnini post. I think Corriere della Sera should give me a column to be the American version of Severgnini… I think like he does and see the weird/funny things around here!

  18. Leo October 11, 2007 at 6:29 pm #

    crackare, spammare, settare, resettare, flashare, loggare, loggarsi, moddare, zippare, linkare, bannare, overclockare, scrollare, splittare, shiftare, lurkare, patchare, randomizzare, swappare, uploadare, pingare, shellare, debuggare, forwardare, killare, giffare, filmare,
    ribustrappare, rippare, shuntare, bufferizzare, backuppare, crashare, trollare, skippare, rotflare, quotare, plottare, flammare, fakare, bypassare…

  19. Shelley, At Home in Rome October 11, 2007 at 6:35 pm #

    Leo: Woware!!

  20. nicki October 11, 2007 at 8:31 pm #

    You know what drives me mad? When they use the word shock, but spell it wrong, e.g ‘lui era sotto CHOC.’
    It also annoys me when the boys play ‘footing’. It just sounds kinky to me.

  21. Enrico October 11, 2007 at 11:05 pm #

    niki, for choc/shock take a look at this:

  22. Cecilia October 12, 2007 at 12:33 am #

    The hardest thing for me is when something is in english but pronounced with an italian accent, I can’t even pronounce italian words with an italian accent! 🙂
    Here in Milan I overheard a couple of Peruvian ladies speaking spanlian (italian and spanish), I really can’t remember specific words sorry.

  23. Jennifer H. October 12, 2007 at 11:47 pm #

    The blog and comments made me laughare! 🙂 Sorry couldn’t resist.

  24. Jessica October 14, 2007 at 10:31 pm #

    My Italian teacher (from the Veneto) has started using “sherare” instead of “condividere” to talk about sharing something. She said when she accidentally used “sherare” in a conversation with a sister still living in Italy, her sister scolded her. So, at least some Italians are being a little protective of their language!

    As a student of the Italian language who’s living in the U.S., I, too, end up cringing most often at the butchering of Italian by Americans (who, of course, have no idea what they’re doing). Yes, the knife cuts both ways on that one.

  25. Michael October 15, 2007 at 2:59 pm #

    There are tons in computer lingo—
    ‘il mouse’

    My most recent ‘Huh!?!?!’ was at my nephew’s soccer game, they called the coach ‘Il Mister’

  26. alex October 21, 2007 at 12:39 pm #

    To the people complaining about the way italians pronounce the word “Chanche”.It is pronounced like that just because it is a french work and that is the right way to pronounce it. The english took it from the french language and pronounce it with that awful english-german sound.

  27. matthias October 22, 2007 at 4:57 pm #

    sorry but in my eyes you are just ignorant. how can you complain about the use of english in other languages? that’s just how the story goes, languages are no islands and they do not belong to anyone.

    You guys here complaining about the sound of Chance… it was actually a french word before it’s assimilation into english. Does the term “Lingua Franca” mean something to you?

    Also in Korea they make use of many foreign words. “Kompyuto Hada” (work on the computer, “Deting Hada” Dating, but also the german word for Work, “Arbeit” is used as “Aleubeiteu” for a part time job.

    What’s the sense inf eeling offended or akward about that?

  28. Shelley, At Home in Rome October 22, 2007 at 7:12 pm #

    Matthias: No need to apologize! I hardly think expressing an opinion makes a person ignorant. When a language begins to get corrupted by another language, in my opinion, it loses some of its original beauty. I’m not an expert in the field, but I learned Italian both because it was a challenge and I loved how melodic it sounded… when you inject English words with Italian pronunciation, unfortunately it breaks the melodic “flow” of the language to the listener’s ear. Many grammatic priniciples of the Italian language are actually based on this melodic flow and designed to maintain it. What’s more, the misuse and redefining of the original English words when brought into Italian is confusing for both native English speakers and many Italians who don’t know what the words are substituting in their native language.

  29. alex, Paris October 22, 2007 at 8:26 pm #

    The english language is full of words “corrupted” by other languages.
    In english you say freedom, but also Liberty (from the french libertè).
    You say yearly, but also annual (from the italian anno).
    What language is not influenced? Maybe a dead one!

  30. Shelley, At Home in Rome October 22, 2007 at 11:31 pm #

    When I wrote this post, I certainly didn’t intend to start a debate about the integrity of languages or whether it’s right or wrong that English also has words from other languages. I just wanted to express the simple observation that the degree to which English has an “influence” on Italian is amusing to me. Punto e basta. Or, as some Italians might say when they want to emphasize the end of a thought: “Stop.”

  31. manofroma October 29, 2007 at 10:46 pm #

    Are you sure you really know Roma and her profound culture? Well, don’t know if this is out of place here, but there might be more complicated (and somewhat reversed) language experiments.
    I am a true Roman, 59, whose ancestors were noble citizens of Roma since at least 10 centuries.

    Well, in a *totally artificial* (though fluent) English invented by me through *hard toil*, I explain ancient-Roman ways yet surviving today in *this* town and in *this* country.

    I myself am a sort of living fossil, or a 2700-years old mummy, if you prefer.

    In the last URL, if you have guts, you find out what I mean by *living fossil*: beware, I am totally nuts, something happening to noble people used to marrying with one another only.

    All the best from ManofRoma

    He being here, he being there.
    Though probably being nowhere.

  32. PassagetoItaly August 27, 2010 at 5:35 am #

    Before I begin my own tirade, I LOVE your blog!

    I have not heard of checkare, downloadare, etc, and whatever else nonsense is now being used in place of Italian words. I still “controllare” l’e-mail, and scaricare/fare un download, and mando un fax. My Italian boyfriend, born and raised in Italy, does not use checkare, downloadare, ever. In my opinion, I think it’s a shame for Italians to start using the English word stems to create new verbs. It just doesn’t sound right.

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