Monday, September 18, 2006

Italglish, or: Going Footing in Your Smoking

Something that’s always given me a few laughs and more than a little confusion is a strange hybrid vocabulary that exists here in Italy, that I know of no name for, so I will dub “Italglish” for the moment. Italglish, in my opinion, has at least two distinct categories:

1) Words that sound deceptively like English but aren’t, or do exist in English but Italians use them to mean something completely different
2) English words that have been genetically modified to resemble their Italian cousins

Today we’ll tackle #1. The fun never ends when you’re trying to figure out just what the heck a smoking (smohck-eeng) is, and why you would go footing (fu-teeng) in it. Actually you wouldn’t, unless you were a groom late to your wedding. Here’s a smoking:

That’s right folks. Who knew? Turns out Jackie Chan made a movie with Jennifer Love Hewitt called The Tuxedo, and this is its Italian cousin. You can all sleep at night now. (By the way, the caption on the bottom says something approximating: "Wear it...and there'll be trouble.")

How about footing? Here you have it:

What we might call jogging. (It’s the whole “ing” ending that seems to make it all ok.) And you do use your foot, uh, feet to do it, so in some way it is close.

What about a golf? No, not the game played by Tiger Woods—more like the shirt he wears when he plays!

You can go to a beauty farm (day spa) for a snelling (weight-loss) treatment. Moo! (Associating cows with weight that's not a marketing strategy I would recommend.)

Sports are easy because they just take out “ball”: volley (voh-lay), basket...

But really, nothing beats the American TV shows imported and Italianized. Like when the Cosby show transforms mysteriously into I Robinson (Eee Roh-bean-sohn), aka The Robinson Family, apparently because “Cosby” was just too hard for Italians to pronounce. Or when that 80s classic Diff’rent Strokes becomes known as Harlem contro Manhattan (Harlem vs. Manhattan), then in later years just simply Arnold. ("Che stai dicendo, Willis?") Or when the Fresh Prince of Bel Air meets his Italian alter ego: Willy. I know you're go ahead, test out your Italian skills with Willy’s Bel Air rap in Italian.


Lux Lisbon said...

That's to funny! I'm starting to speak Swinglish (swedish/english) but it's more like saying a sentance in swedish but using the english words for the ones you don't know yet in swedish. good times!

FinnyKnits said...

I plan to practice the reverse while I'm there - Englitalian. I imagine I will confuse a few people and then we will all have a good laugh. For now I'm living the absurd fantasy that my "501 Most Used Italian Verbs" and "Italian Vocabulary Builder" will actually:

1 - Be read in full by the time I leave in 2 weeks

2 - Be absorbed into my fractured and easily distracted mind

Prepare yourself for me to "Destroy and Devastate" the Italian language.


Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Lux: Love it! That works for me, too. I've gotta hand it to you for trying Swedish--when I was in Stockholm everyone spoke such great English.

Finny: Englitalian--sounds like a plan! Preparing for devastation as we speak.

Dygez said...

It's the same on the other way:

Why Maccaroni? Real name is Maccheroni, although americans seems they can't pronounce it.

And what about American FOOTball? Football (Soccer) is actually played with foots, so why did you name a game in which you use your hands most of the time as Football?

Anyway, great blog, i'm reading all your entries because it's really interesting and entertaining. :)