4

Now that we've furnished so many interesting words and ideas in response to @Adrian's request regarding pseudo-Gallicisms, why not do pseudo-Italian pseudo-loanwords in English? To paraphrase Adrian:

By pseudo-Italian I mean words that are of Italian origin but are not actually correct. I mean Italian-derived terms that have evolved to the point of no longer being common-usage Italian.

For instance:

Gumare: : a longtime mistress; from the Italian comare, which means "second mother" or "godmother".

  • 2
    Hmm. Methinks someone's trying to ride the coattails of the "fake French" question. Judging from the downvotes, maybe what everyone's sayin' is, "Fuggettaboutit." – Benjamin Harman Jan 17 '16 at 10:15
  • 1
    @BenjaminHarman Both questions received 2 close-votes. But it's not fair in terms of upvotes. – user140086 Jan 17 '16 at 11:56
  • Not an accepted part of normal English, but the Canadian lingerie store "La Senza" directly translates to "the without" in Italian. – OperaticSkeleton Jan 27 '16 at 5:15
  • Basically you just swallow the leading "th" sound and append a trailing "uh" to many words -- "at's a spicy meatuh balluh". – Hot Licks Mar 17 '17 at 23:02
11

False Italianisms in British and American English: A Meta-Lexicographic Analysis by Cristiano Furiassi has a list of selected false Italianisms. Lest there be any doubt about what it’s meant by false Italianisms, here it is in the autor’s own words:

False Italianisms – which most English speakers believe to be purely Italian – are created when genuine lexical borrowings from Italian are so reinterpreted by a recipient language, English in this case, that native speakers of Italian would not recognize them as part of their own lexical inventory and would neither understand nor use.

And here is a selection of the selection. Opening the list we have:

Alfresco

In English it means in the open air. To express the same idea in Italian you’d say all’aperto (in the open). Fresco is Italian for fresh (of fruit), recent (news), pleasantly cool, etc.

Confetti

Now in Italain confetti (singular, confetto) are sugar-coated almonds, pistachios, etc; or pills. The little, brightly coloured papers are coriandoli (plural of coriandolo, also coriander).

Inferno

This in Italian for hell. A large fire in Italian would be incendio.

Latte

is Italian for milk. If you want a mixture of coffee and milk in Italy ask for a latte macchiato (stained milk) or a caffellatte.

Pepperoni or peperoni

Ask for peperoni (singular, peperone) in Italy and you’ll get peppers. If it is the spicy sausage you want ask for salame piccante instead.

  • Could you please name the paper, and add a few more fake Italinisms to your answer. The list is 100% accurate, my pet hate is latte, which does not mean "white/milky coffee" in Italian. Confetti is another good one, the Italian for torn pieces of colored paper is "coriandoli". – Mari-Lou A Jan 18 '16 at 8:47
  • @Mari-LouA, will do. Just let me have my morning latte first :) – Jacinto Jan 18 '16 at 8:54
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA, see how you like it now. – Jacinto Jan 18 '16 at 10:29
  • 1
    @LSerni That is very interesting: an English speaker being told in Italy they were being taken to an al fresco dinner would be in for a surprise. – Jacinto Mar 30 '17 at 18:49
  • 1
    There is actually exactly that in Volterra. I believe once they were called cene al fresco (al fresco dinners) and it meant both a cool place and a prison, as the "restaurant" was actually the Volterra Penitentiary Facility. Now they are called Cene Galeotte (cenegaleotte.it/info), and it's another pun - galeotto means a romantic matchmaker (from Galahad), but it's also a convict (from galea: a galley oar-slave). – LSerni Mar 30 '17 at 19:13
3

A very nice fake Italianism is in use especially I think in Southern California, where I write from. It's dated, I think, no longer as common as a decade ago. But it's to say that you and someone else are "simpatico," meaning you get along famously. One of the reasons I especially like this one is it has a twin Italian usage that is a false Anglicism: "Noi due abbiamo un buon feeling." That's a very odd use of feeling. Of course, the correct use of simpatico would be to say that a person is simpatico, not to say that she and I are simpatico, meaning well assorted or that we get along.

  • 1
    Erm, it is also possibly from Spanish, which seems more likely given how close CA is to Mexico... – Cascabel Mar 17 '17 at 22:14
  • It has been used in English for a long time - at least throughout the 20th century and probably back to whenever English speakers and Italian speakers mixed. – Drew Mar 17 '17 at 23:08
  • Merriam-Webster has a nice discussion of the word's history. It says it was borrrowed into English from Italian and Spanish, at first, 1864 onwards, with the meaning it has in those languages ("likeable'), but "in recent years, however, the word's meaning has shifted." – Jacinto Mar 18 '17 at 9:30
  • Simpatico(a) in Italian means good looking. She is simpatica or he is simpatico is how that word would be used. It sounds very strange for someone to use it the way you describe. I – Rita Oct 14 '18 at 3:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.