Italian writer warns of English invasion

  • 20 November 2012
Mario Monti
Prime Minister Mario Monti is a fluent English speaker.

A leading Italian author has warned that his native language is being dangerously undermined by the increasing use of English in everyday life.

Crime writer Andrea Camilleri suggested that Italian was being subjected to a "devastating colonisation", with Prime Minister Mario Monti particularly guilty.


Alan Johnston


Listen to the report

Andrea Camilleri is a literary celebrity in Italy. And he's best known abroad for his novels featuring his brilliant fictional creation, the Sicilian detective, Inspector Montalbano.

But the author is worried about the health of the language in which he works. Speaking earlier this week he took issuewith the country's politicians for peppering their speeches with English words and phrases. Terms like 'welfare', 'governance', 'devolution', and even 'election day'.

The author said that Prime Minister Mario Monti was a leading offender. And it's true that Mr Monti does indeed frequently reach for English terminology. Here's an example from his first speech to Parliament. Listen to how he just drops in the English phrase 'best practices':

Clip of Mario Monti speaking Italian

And in the very next breath, he's at it again, sliding in that grim English term 'spending review':

Clip of Mario Monti speaking Italian

Mr Camilleri said Mr Monti's habit was just part of what he called an "awful tradition" in Italian public life. Not enough, he said, was being done to take care of the national language.

And he gave a classic example. He said that when he served on a jury for a prize given by the Italian state broadcaster at the Venice Film Festival he was dismayed to find that the official language of the judging would be English.


Listen to the words

literary celebrity: sastrawan terkenal

took issue with: sangat tidak setuju

peppering: menghiasi

welfare: tunjangan dari pemerintah

governance: tata kelola

devolution: transfer kewenangan dari pemerintah pusat ke pemerintah daerah

reach for: memutuskan untuk menggunakan

terminology: terminologi

drops in: menggunakan dengan seenaknya

best practices: metode terbaik

at it: melakukannya

grim: suram

dismayed: kecewa