Seven Italian words you think you know

Latin and later the Italian language have had a strong influence on the English language in the past. This is usually an advantage when learning Italian as a great deal of vocabulary has the same origin and can be easily recognised by an English speaker. For example words such as: ironico, sofisticato, musica, arte, architettura, dilemma, teatro, piano, scenario, ballerina, etc

However, nowadays, it is actually the Italian language that is absorbing more words from English, for example from the technology and business world. And Italians are embracing the English words with open arms.

However, the English language is still importing some Italian words. The new vocabulary entering the English dictionary is often related to food and drinks. However, there are a few words that you need to be aware of as they are used in Italian in a different way. Here are a few examples:

  1. Latte – In Italian this word means milk so when ordering a coffee, if you wish for a milky coffee it is better to order a ‘caffè latte’, to avoid being served a glass of milk.
  2. Panini – In Italian this is the plural noun of ‘panino’, which means bread roll, rather than grilled sandwich. In Italy order a ‘panino tostato’.
  3. Pepperoni – In Italian this word does not exist. ‘Peperone’ is a similar word, however this is not a spicy sausage but a sweet pepper. When ordering a pizza, order a ‘salame piccante’.
  4. Bolognese – This means ‘from Bologna’ but the meat and tomato sauce you are looking for is actually called ‘ragu`.
  5. Prosciutto – Prosciutto is both cooked ham (prosciutto cotto) and also cured (prosciutto crudo).
  6. Al fresco – This means ‘in a cool place’ but does not mean outdoors. If you wish to be outside, better say ‘all’aperto’. Funnily enough, ‘finire al fresco’ means to end up in jail.
  7. Confetti – This is actually a false friend. In Italian confetti are sugared almonds and are distributed to family and friends in special occasions such as weddings. The pieces of colored paper are called ‘coriandoli’.

Parla Italiano is a school of Italian language for adults and children. We have classes at various levels and a new complete beginners class starting in January in Palmers Green and Barnet. For information please email laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk or call 07941 092593