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Статья опубликована в рамках: Научного журнала «Студенческий» № 41(127)

Рубрика журнала: Филология

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Библиографическое описание:
Ziuziukina A. ITALIAN BORROWINGS IN THE MODERN ENGLISH // Студенческий: электрон. научн. журн. 2020. № 41(127). URL: https://sibac.info/journal/student/127/197239 (дата обращения: 02.03.2024).


Ziuziukina Anna

undergraduate, Faculty of Foreign language Belgorod National Research University

Russia, Belgorod

Perelygina Tatiana

научный руководитель,

scientific supervisor, candidate of Philology, Docent Faculty of Foreign language Belgorod National Research University

Russia, Belgorod


The article is devoted to the study of the functional peculiarities of Italian borrowings in modern English. The author of the paper examines the semantics of lexical borrowings from the Italian language and the level of their assimilation in English. Particular attention is paid to the reasons for the appearance of borrowings. The object of the research is borrowings from the Italian language, and the subject is the ways of penetration of borrowed lexemes and their use in English.


Keywords: borrowings, Italian, assimilation, Italianism.


Lexical borrowings are an integral part of new words appearing process and new meanings in the language. The study of the development and expansion of the natural language lexicon is one of the central tasks of Russian and foreign linguistics in the second half of the XX century. A huge number of domestic linguists have paid attention to the study of borrowings in different languages: in Russian (V.M. Aristova, D.S. Lotte), in English (N.N. Amosova, V.P. Sekirin), in German (L.Y. Granatkin, L.R. Zinder and T.V. Stroeva), the French (E.A. Gutman, B.N. Zabavnikov), in Italian (E.V. Arkadiev, A.M. Eldarov). In terms of progressive globalization it is important to pay attention to the process of lexical borrowings.

Borrowings make up a special formation in the vocabulary. Arising as a result of language contacts and expanding the experience of these native speakers under the influence of other language societies, they represent a certain saving of language effort in speech generation, since ready-made units of a foreign language are used to fill in the elements of speech in this language. At the same time, the loss of previous associative links that existed in the language also leads to the loss of motivation that may be inherent in borrowed words in the source language, which, accordingly, causes significant difficulties in recognizing their meaning in the process of the speech perception. Borrowing as a process of using elements of one language in another is thus determined by the linguistically dialectically contradictory nature of the language sign: its arbitrariness as a force that permits borrowing and its involuntariness as a factor that prevents borrowing [2, p. 243].

A review of Russian and foreign linguistic literature on the problems of borrowing shows that the main differences among researchers’ points of view are related to the solution of the question of the relationship between the concepts of "borrowing" and lexical borrowing" ("borrowed word"). For most Russian and foreign linguists, the terms "borrowing" and "lexical borrowing" are synonymous, i.e. they serve to denote the process of moving words from one language to another, as well as the result of borrowing - a borrowed word [3, p. 154]. Considering borrowing as one of the ways to develop and enrich the vocabulary of a language, researchers include in the concept of "lexical borrowing" in this position not only foreign words in the unity of their external sound and internal semantic sides, but also borrowed meanings and calque, i.e. all those language elements that somehow contribute to the development of the vocabulary of the borrowing language.

Other researchers-proponents of structural and semantic classification of loanwords - also identify the concepts of " borrowing "and" lexical borrowing", including borrowed words, meanings, and calques in their composition. In contrast to the previously considered point of view, this groups of authors considers borrowing not as a process of moving words from one language to another, but as a process of reproducing the phonetic or morphological model of a foreign word by means of the borrowing language. In particular, E. Haugen distinguishes the following types of borrowed words according to the degree of their phonetic substitution: pure loanwords "full borrowings, words without phonetic substitution", loan blends "hybrid borrowings, words with partial phonetic substitution", loan translations "calques, words with full phonetic substitution", semantic loans "semantic borrowings, words with full phonetic substitution" [7, p. 530].

Thus, following the majority of Soviet and foreign linguists, we understand lexical borrowing as a foreign word that has penetrated the language system and is recorded in the lexicographic literature of the borrowing language.

The study of direct and translated lexical borrowings in English is a focus of modern linguistics: not only because this language is global, but also because this language is particularly characterized by borrowing as the main way to enrich the lexicon. One of the most popular sources of borrowing for English is the group of romance languages, in particular, Italian. In modern linguistics there is a special term of Italian origin - "italianisms".

The peculiarity of the process of borrowing Italian vocabulary into English, unlike, for example, Latin, French or Scandinavian, is the lack of direct language communication between the English and Italian peoples. English-Italian language contacts were either mediated (borrowing was carried out through other languages, mainly French), or the nature of communication between individual native speakers of English and Italian (as a result of trade, travel, etc.), or borrowing was carried out by book, in which language contacts were absent [3, p. 180].

As many linguists specify, the mass penetration of Italian loanwords into English began in the 16th century. Until the 16th century, only five italianisms (direct borrowings) were borrowed into English. The italianism Buckram (It. bucherame) is noted in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) as the borrowing of the 13th century. The first meaning of the buckram is "cloth, a kind of fine cotton cloth". It has a direct indication that this word, being the name of a commodity of trade, penetrates into the English language as a result of the trade relations of Italy with England. Trade relations, as one of the initial types of language contacts between the English and Italian peoples, are noted by many researchers. In the 14th century, two italianisms were borrowed into English: scale (It. scala) and tramontane (It. tramontana). It is quite possible to think that the meanings with which these italianisms penetrate the English language indicate the development of navigation in Italy and its influence on the countries of Europe. One of the main ways to navigate the sea in those early days was orientation by the stars, and the word scale could well mean the scale of a navigation device. The italianisms of the15th-century fresco (It. fresco)" fresco "and barble (It. barbola)" wind; inflammation of the neck gland of horses, cattle; foot-and-mouth disease " also seem to be the result of oral contact between native speakers of Italian and English [8, p. 201]. The semantics of these borrowings indicate the beginning of a sharply increasing scientific and cultural influence of Italy on European countries in the Renaissance by the 16th century. Thus, until the 16th century, only five Italian words were borrowed into English. The borrowings were probably the result of oral contacts between native speakers of English and Italian.

In the 16th century, there was a sharp increase in the influx of Italian vocabulary into English, which continued until the end of the 19th century. There are 97 italianisms from the 16th century, 129 from the 17th century, 160 from the 18th century, and 173 from the 19th century in the English Oxford Dictionary. The increased influence of the Italian language on English during this period is primarily due to the cultural development of Italy. The flourishing of science, literature, painting and sculpture, architecture in the Renaissance, followed by the rapid development of secular music and theater in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries could not but affect the countries of Europe, whose languages, along with new concepts, penetrate many Italian words. Almost half of the Italian borrowings from this period are in the vocabulary of art. New musical terms: accelerando, diminuendo, energico, forte, largo, moderato, obbligato, etc., names of musical instruments: accordion, bassetto, bombardon, cembalo, clarino, fagotto, flauto, violin, violoncello, etc., names of musical works: aria, cantata, concerto.Terms of the various sciences penetrate into the English language: medicine (influenza, malaria, pellagra, tarantism), physical geography (archipelago, grotto, fiumara, rivulet, volcano, voloanello), Geology (breccia, lava, lapillo, peperino, cavolinite, gabbro) and others. Borrowings from politics (manifesto, propaganda, ballot, mafia), trade and economy (agio, banco, braccio, grano, tariff), military and Maritime Affairs (capitano, generalissimo, falconet, arsenal) indicate the intensification of Anglo-Italian political, trade, economic and other contacts. The appearance in the lexical structure of the English language of the names of many Italian specific realities, such as signor, signora, marchese, marchesa, vendetta, gondola, barcarole, casino, cicerone and many others is, according to a number of researchers, the result of frequent trips of the British to Italy, acquaintance with the peculiarities of life and lifestyle of the Italian people.

The twentieth century is characterized by a slight lexical influence of the Italian language on English. The dictionary has only 18 italianisms of the XX century: antipasto, autostrada, bassobuffo, contrapposto, diabolo, duce, fascism, fascist, grossomodo, grottesco, mafiosa, mafioso, mezzani, mezzofanti, mezzogiorno, seicentist, terrazzo, valuta - which, however, does not mean that the process of borrowing English vocabulary has stopped from Italian. The process becomes less intense. If, without taking into account borrowings of the XX century, italianisms occupy the fourth place in terms of their numerical composition after Latin, French and Scandinavian borrowings, then according to the research of J. Cannon, this place is preserved for them in modern English. The only difference is that lexical elements from the Japanese language have risen to the third place after Latin and French loanwords [4, p. 35].

Thus, in the process of borrowing English words they conventionally distinguish three main periods: before the 16th century - the initial stage of the borrowing; 16-19th century - the period of intensive penetration of the Italian vocabulary in the English language; 20th century stage weakened the lexical influence of Italian on English. Some linguists note the assimilation of many words of Italian origin in the English language and their acquisition of wide usage. Part of the Italian musical vocabulary includes words common in everyday speech, eg. alto, soprano, opera and more specific terms (legato, allegretto, andante). John Grinat and G. Kittridge emphasize that the majority of Italian terms that relate to art and music remain Italian form (eg. allegro, piano, falsetto, soprano, andante, concerto, terracotta, opera, operetta). However, these words, except in rare cases, do not retain their meaning in English. [5, p. 48]

A large number of Italian loanwords have not been assimilated by the English language and retain to some extent the Italian form or are used in relation to Italian reality, for example, casino, cicerone, gondola, viturino, although some words are fully assimilated by the English language, for example: race, stock, traffic, umbrella, artichoke and even volcano and macaroni.

Some Italian words have fallen out of the English vocabulary, but many of them are widely used in modern English, for example: attitude, cicerone, fiasco, influenza, isolate, motto. Words such as balcony, capriccio, design, granito, piazza, portica, studio, violo, vulcano are common in spoken and written speech.

V.D. Arakin notes the occurrence of some of the most common words of Italian origin in the composition of composites, the formation of derivatives from them, and examines the features of their semantics [1, p. 65].

The word piano was included in a number of complex names: grand piano "concert Grand piano”, upright piano "piano", a Board with strings placed vertically in it, coltage piano is a special type of low piano with strings running diagonally; the word opera "Opera" (XVII century) is an integral part of the composites opera-house "Opera house", opera-glass "binoculars", etc.

The noun alarm formed the complex word alarm-clock "alarm clock". It also acquired in English the additional meanings of "alarm", "alarm" and became part of the phrases cry alarm "shout guard", strike alarm “sound the alarm".

Preserving the primary meanings of words is a distinctive feature of borrowings from the Italian language.

Describing the features of the development of polysemy of words borrowed directly from Latin or through French, J. McKnight notes that they have a great similarity with Italian words borrowed from the same Latin sources. Comparison of words of Italian origin with the corresponding words in the Italian language shows how one and the same word in different languages is a completely different matter [7, p. 426].

The subject matter of the Italian borrowing is of particular interest due to the fact that a considerable part of them (especially military and musical terms and words specific to the field of art, architecture) became part of many European languages (including Russian), for example: the battalion, bastion, partizan squad, the gun, the citadel, Opera, Aria, duet, bass, piano, cello, mandolin, granite, grotto, balcony, corridor, niche, dome, concert, Studio, replica, etc.

Many of these words are frequently used in the international languages.

Thus, despite the fact that Italian loanwords occupy a significant place in the vocabulary of the English language in terms of their numerical composition, it would be unfair to talk about any significant influence exerted by the Italian language on English in the field of lexical units. On the contrary, based on the peculiarities of usage, word formation and semantic development, the vast majority of Italian loanwords belong to the passive Fund of the English vocabulary. This is another confirmation, using the example of Italian loanwords and the main conclusion of Russian anglistics that, despite the numerous foreign-language words in the English dictionary, its main vocabulary core remains Germanic in nature.



  1. Arakin V.D. Russian loanwords in the yakut language // Akademiku Vladimiru Gordlevskomu: Sb. st. M., 1953. - P. 25-34. (in Russian)
  2. Arnold I.V. Lexicology of modern English - Moscow: Publishing  lit. on foreign language, 1959. - 350 p. (in Russian)
  3. Brunner K. History of English language/ Translation from German by S.H. Vasilyeva - Moscow: Publishing  lit. on foreign language, 1955-1956. - 323 p. (in Russian)
  4. Cannon G. and Egle B.M. Hew borrowings in English. - American speech. - Vol. 54. -1981. - P. 23-37.
  5. Greenough J.B. and Kittredge G.L. Words and their ways in English speech - London: Macmillan, 1961. -  431 p.
  6. Haugen E. The analysis of linguistic borrowing // Language. - vol. 26 - Yale: Yale University, 1950. - №2. - P. 210-231.
  7. McKnight G.H. The evolution of the English language. From Chaucer to the Twentieth century. - N.Y.s - Dover publications, Inc., - 1968. - 590 p.
  8. Pinnavaia L. The Italian Borrowings in the Oxford English Dictionary: A Lexicographical, Linguistic and Cultural Analysis. - Roma, Bulzoni, 2001. – 319 p.

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