What made “gusto” popular?

Gusto is a foreign term which the English language appears to have borrowed twice: 1620s, “very common from the beginning of the 19th c.” [OED], from Italian gusto “taste,” from Latin gustus “a tasting,” related to gustare “to taste, take a little of.” …. English first borrowed the French form, guste “organ of taste; sense … Read more

Why is semibreve commonly pronounced as ˈsɛm iˌbriv?

I am seeing this on some dictionary sites: / ˈsɛm iˌbriv, -ˌbrɛv / But, I’ve only heard it (in Anglophone musical contexts) as ˈsɛm iˌbriv. I wasn’t aware about a cafe breve until yesterday. This appears to be a US invention, given an Italian name, which got me to wondering about why we pronounce semibreve … Read more

Is there an English equivalent of the Italian idiom “non confondiamo l’oro con la tolla!”?

In Italy we say “non confondiamo l’oro con la tolla!” (= don’t compare gold to tin!) when someone compares a (concrete or abstract) high-value thing to a low-value one. For example: Joe: “LaTeX è come Word” (= LaTeX is like Word) Carla: “Per piacere, non confondiamo l’oro con la tolla!” (=Please, don’t compare gold to … Read more

What rules govern uniform mispronounciation of romance languages?

As someone who isn’t a native speaker of English, I’m often fascinated by how those who are seem to change the pronunciation of words originally from French, Italian, Spanish, and so on in a seemingly uniform manner. But what unofficial rules govern this? For instance, I recently looked in my fridge and saw a bottle … Read more

How to translate “rapporto bancario”?

In Italian, we use “rapporto bancario” as a generic word for any “banking relationship” you have with your bank, like a banking account, a mortgage, a loan, you name it. Is “banking relationship” a correct translation? Answer I would say that, yes, “banking relationship” is the correct term, for financial institutions that accept deposits and … Read more

Are there any “fake” Italian words used in English?

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 … Read more

Where does “pizza pie” originate?

The Italianissimo pizza—pronounced /ˈpiʦ:a/—is not always spelled or called pizza around the world: In Bosnia, Belarusian, Macedonia, Serbia it’s spelled pica but pronounced /pîtsa/ In Estonian; pitsa The Greeks call it πίτσα (pítsa) In Haitian it’s pitza In Thai it’s พิซซ่า (Phiss̀ā) In Vietnamese it’s bánh pizza For everyone else it’s just plain pizza, except… … Read more

How did “lobster” mean two different species?

This live crustacean is called astice in Italian. The one on the right is aragosta. They look very different from one another. The Italian dictionary describes the astice as having a deep (intense) blue colour (turchino) with yellow splotches and large claws, whereas the aragosta has a reddish body, five pairs of legs, long antennae … Read more

One word for “a one-eyed person”

I’ve given an English children’s story to a small group of Italian kids to read and perform. The story is about a boy who changes into a cat and makes friends with a one-eyed next-door neighbour; a grumpy-looking man who wears an eye patch. The kids didn’t really understand what “one-eyed” meant so I translated … Read more