Too much English, but not on Italian tongues.

badenglish2Did you know that your Italian health service doctor can now send you a prescription for a Class A pharmaceutical even if you are out of town? Yes, indeed. And it’s quite convenient with only one element of absurdity. Here we are in Italy, speaking and reading the language of Dante, and this new online system which you have to register with and which (strangely enough) works beautifully is called………….MyHealthBook. Yep. Not IlMioLibrettoSanitario but MyHealthBook.

Now this is downright ridiculous. It’s one thing to read in the newspapers about Whistleblowing, as I did recently, as there does not seem to be a single word in Italian to express that concept. And maybe one can also close an eye to parole techniche come computer e software (although the French and some Spanish-speaking countries have chosen a different path).  But Jobs Act? voluntary disclosure (for Italian residents with undeclared bank accounts abroad), question time, spending review, standing ovation, hotspot, stepchild adoption etc. etc. I mean, really!

english badIt’s true that English has more words than Italian; recently, I read that there may be more than a million English words these days while estimates of the number of Italian words seems to hover around the 260,00 mark. But this does not seem to account for the predilection of some Italians – the Renzi government seems to have an exaggerated penchant for this – for using English instead of making do with time-proven Italian words.

Obviously, there is some kind of snobbism afoot since as we all know, despite the presence everywhere of English, in shop signs and advertisements, very few Italians know English really well and in fact one repeatedly finds signs, handwritten or not, with glaring errors in English.ì, my favorite being “Next opening” as opposed to “prossima apertura.  True, there are many more – witness waiters, café servers and shop assistants –  than in the past who can now manage with tourists quite well . But a good English-speaker is still very hard to find and Prime Minister Renzi is a live example of how unprepared for linguistic globalization this country’s politicians still are.

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