Many English words have entered the Italian language but the same can be said the other way around

When we think of linguistic influences in Australian culture we often think of the languages brought to us by migrants from foreign lands.

Dialects and regionalvariants reflect the adaptations and growth of societies in respect to theenvironment they find themselves in.

In the case of Italian, twophenomena have occurred; we note the birth of Italian-Australian, a uniquebranding of regional dialects mixed with Australian-English, and then there'sthe proliferation of standardised Italian in the English language, usedmeaningfully as culturally accepted terms. Though the former is easilyattributed to the Italian migration history in Australia, the latter isn't asstraightforward to contextualise.

The inter-war period of theearly 20th century gave light to pro-British ideals and a somewhatpatriotic view of the importance of "“British English" in Australia. Culturally,there was little room to appreciate the Italian language - Australia was at warwith Italy, after all. Despite this, Italian language education in Australiaprevailed (fuelled by the presence of those Italian migrants), and the languagein general has since solidified its presence in our Australian vernacular.

My question is this: are weconsciously aware of the presence of Italian in today's spoken English?Moreover, after having read this, will you too be more mindful of the presenceof Italian words in your own spoken repertoire?

"“I'll have a cappuccino, please."

"“Have you seen the new al fresco area?"

"“She's such a diva!"

"“No, I'll get this done solo, I think."

"“Begin reading from thesecond stanza"¦"

"“I can't believe it's theseries finale!"

"“A pizza margherita, thanks."

"“Check out my new stiletto heels."

Traces of the Italianlanguage are scattered about the English and non-English speaking worlds. Evenwithout fluency in the language, one knows the meaning of key Italian words welove and use in our day-to-day lives. Now, I am no professor of linguistics,but years of being an Italian language teacher have taught me a few things. Ametalinguistic appreciation of these Italian gems reveals particular trends.Italian terms dominate the fields of cuisine, the arts, music, architecture,literature and geography, being some of the most beautiful subsets of culture.

Ample literature exists thatseeks to unpack the reasons behind this kind of language "“borrowing". It speaksof language roots and language families, much like a family tree. Italianlanguage roots stem back to grandmother and grandfather Latin, with cousins andaunties and uncles in French, Spanish, Catalan, Romanian and Portuguese.

Though the Italian languagehas evolved significantly over the centuries, the Italian spoken today - l'italiano standard - derives from theregional Tuscan dialect spoken in Florence in the 13th century.Naturally, it has been polished and perfected over the years, with theRenaissance, again centered in Florence, giving birth to renewed love andappreciation of the arts, knowledge and sciences. The transference and movementof knowledge and people through this time period has surely solidified Italianterminology in those fields, unchanged after some 700 years.

The use of Italian words inEnglish is a beautiful thing. Using such highly specific words, imbued withcultural and historical significance is a joy to be treasured. It shows notonly the journey made by the Italian language, but also the relevance andsignificance it holds in today's society. The sound and rhythm of these wordsand phrases may indeed alter on our English tongues ('bruschetta' is a point of tension for me, and we won't evenstart on espresso!), but theirimportance remains untainted.

People often ask me:       "“Whyshould we still be speaking Italian in Australia today?"

I respond with: "“You alreadyknow more Italian than you think. Italian is a global language, as Italy is ahub for culture and knowledge; it always has been, and always will be."

They look at me cock-eyed atthat point, somewhat unconvinced.

"“Enjoying your espresso and tiramis๠there, are you?" I ask.

Many English words haveentered the Italian language but the same can be said the other way around.