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  1. #1
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    Italian words commonly used in English

    What are the Italian words commonly used in the English language?
    I am mainly interested to words used to define 'beauty of something'. Also words used in the domain of art, pictures, images etc...
    I know words such as 'bello', 'magnifico', are commonly used in English.
    Which other words could I add to the list?

    Thanks
    Federico

  2. #2
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    Re: Italian words commonly used in English

    The most common area is music - crescendo, adagio, legato... and so on - although for reasons that escape me we mispronounce mezzo-soprano (English speakers insist on using /ts/, where the Italian has a clear /dz/). And a lot of users use crescendo as if it meant 'peak in a loud sound' (*"the hubbub rose to a crescendo") rather than 'getting louder'.

    There's food, of course: spaghetti (although English speakers gloss over the double T) rissotto (ditto), pizza and so on. Some foods are pronounced with a French influence: a lot of people pronounce lasagne (three syllables in Italian) with two syllables (and a /z/). Spelling is also sometimes influenced: we have adopted panini (although in English it's usually singular - although I can't bring myself to say 'a panini', so I often just point); but sometimes, using the English spelling rule that doubles a consonant to keep a vowel short (ban/banning versus pave/paving), people spell the new word "pannini" (I've seen this painted on a shop window, which suggests it's not a casual typo).

    There's also a very odd one - which doesn't exactly borrow the Italian word. A decorative but vapid 'trophy' escort* is a 'bimbo' (with an O), although a baby girl (compare 'babe' in Am English) is bimba**.

    b

    PS *female, that is
    ** In Italian, that is
    Last edited by BobK; 12-Mar-2008 at 18:34. Reason: Added PS

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    Re: Italian words commonly used in English

    thanks Bobk.
    I am interested to know more about "Sublime" and "Bello" .

    I need to know, if in the U.S. (and in English speaking countries):
    1) "sublime" is also used as adjective to express beauty of something (as an example, "sublime picture" would it be ok?);
    2) if common people knows the difference between "Bello" and "Bella"
    A few examples of usage of this words would be very helpful.


    My goal is to blend 2 words, one in English and the other one in Italian (with whom Americans are familiar), to define a gallery of pictures of Italy.
    I also thought to "MagnifItalia" for that. Could it sound fine?

    Thanks

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    Re: Italian words commonly used in English

    I would assume that bella is for females and bello is for males, but perhaps not. I've never seen bello, ever.

    Sublime is something that is exquisitely wonderful - the taste, the sound, the beauty could all be sublime. This may be personal preference, but I don't really like it preceding the noun - as you have in "a sublime picture." Instead, that picture is sublime, her beauty is sublime.

    I like your suggestion for the MagnifItalia. It has immediate meaning to me as "magnificent Italy."

    [not a teacher]

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    Re: Italian words commonly used in English

    Yes, that's right, 'bella' is for females and 'bello' is for males. Also, are you saying me 'Bello' is not so used?

    The reason I write "Sublime Picture" is that I am forced to use just two words. So, finally, it would be something similar to "SublimeItalia". Do you think "ItaliaSublime" would be even better? Would it create more excitement? (In Italian that would be ok because we can place adjective after the noun, but in English I know that would be wrong. Am I missing anything? Please advise me on that).

    Thank you

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    Re: Italian words commonly used in English

    Quote Originally Posted by federico2007 View Post
    Yes, that's right, 'bella' is for females and 'bello' is for males. Also, are you saying me 'Bello' is not so used?

    The reason I write "Sublime Picture" is that I am forced to use just two words. So, finally, it would be something similar to "SublimeItalia". Do you think "ItaliaSublime" would be even better? Would it create more excitement? (In Italian that would be ok because we can place adjective after the noun, but in English I know that would be wrong. Am I missing anything? Please advise me on that).

    Thank you
    I wouldn't say bello is never used; I've heard non-Italian English speakers saying molto bello to other English people; but always in the context of something Italian (perhaps a holiday). But bella is a lot more common, both in phrases like bella Italia, bella figura, bella pasta and as a free-standing noun-like adjective: ciao, bella!.

    I think ItaliaSublime sounds better than SublimeItalia, because the adjective is common in English (/sə'blaım/), and isn't viewed as a loan word (which it probably isn't - not directly from Italian, that is [I guess]). So it's only the foreign-sounding word order that gives the word its impact; also it allows you, in advertising, to pronounce it as an Italian word (which you probably would do anyway )

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 13-Mar-2008 at 11:32. Reason: Fix typo

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    Re: Italian words commonly used in English

    Bobk,
    thanks you for your detailed explanation.
    In Italian we pronounce 'Sublime' as something similar to: "Soobleemay".

    I like 'ItaliaSublime'. However I heard from Americans there is an American saying "from the ridiculous to the sublime" which means "everything."
    So I am afraid 'sublime' is not a so impacting word in the U.S.

    I find your suggestions were very helpful.
    Thanks to all.

    Federico

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    Re: Italian words commonly used in English

    Quote Originally Posted by federico2007 View Post
    ... However I heard from Americans there is an American saying "from the ridiculous to the sublime" which means "everything."
    So I am afraid 'sublime' is not a so impacting word in the U.S.

    I find your suggestions were very helpful.
    Thanks to all.

    Federico
    There is a similar expression in British English, the other way round. Suppose a music programme on the radio is playing Bach's St Matthew Passion, and there's a 1 minute gap at the end of the programme, so the presenter fills it with The Flight of the Bumble Bee, an irate listener might complain that the programme went 'from the sublime to the ridiculous'; the formal/academic word for that sort of juxtaposition is bathos.

    Sometimes, when the contrast is the other way round, people use the reverse order - but they know that they are getting the collocation 'wrong'. In this case it doesn't mean 'everything'. So either this is another British/American difference, or you've got 'the wrong end of the stick' [a misunderstanding, or an imperfect or partial one].

    And thank you - you're welcome.

    b

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