We’ve gone over English word of Portuguese, Spanish, Polish and French origin. It is now the turn of Italian!
Italian is a language that has given English many words but in different ways as the other languages we wrote about before. Spanish and Portuguese gave us words related to the ‘new world’ of America, Polish brought the names of some ‘exotic’ products with its immigrants and French imposed itself through 300 years of rule. Instead Italian came into English through the artistic works and the cuisine of the country.
Many words used today in English related to the arts are Italian words that haven’t had many changes in spelling or pronunciation.
Most musical technical terms are Italian words. However, there are still many words related to music that most people will know: bass (from basso), opera and piano are three common words. There are also others that are used when talking about music but in other contexts as well such as diva, duo, virtuoso, maestro and prima donna.
In art and architecture we can also find many other words: patina, replica, belvedere, fresco (from affresco), portico, piazza, balcony (from balcone), studio, villa and grotto (from grotta). Some colour names like magenta, sienna (from terra de Sienna) and sepia (from seppia) come from Italian.
Lingua franca, novel (from novella), stanza, motto and canto are words of Italian origin used when talking about literature and linguistics. While extravaganza (from stravaganza), scenario and finale are used in the theatre world.
Beyond all the words related to pasta (like fusilli or cannelloni) and coffee (like latte and barista) that come from Italian, there are many other words that we now use in English related to the world of food and cooking.
Vegetables like cauliflower (from cavolfiore), broccoli (from broccolo), zucchini (from zucchina), artichoke (from articiocco) and fava all have Italian origins. The name of many kinds of cheese like mozzarella and provolone come straight from Italian without modifications. However, other words like sultana (from sultanina) and biscuit (from biscotto) have changed quite a bit.
Italians have a history of exploring the world, so it should be no surprise that many words related to nature and geography also come from Italian, especially those related to bodies of water and volcanos: volcano (from vulcano) and lava; riviera, marina (from mare), cascade (from cascata), lagoon (from laguna), archipelago (from arcipelago) and littoral (from litorale).
Several Italian citizens have also been used as inspiration for naming: things Amerigo Vespucci’s name was used when naming America, Luigi Galvani gave us galvanise and his competitor Alessandro Volta inspired the word Volt. And Christopher Columbus received two places after his name: Colombia and Columbia.