In my early days in Brighton, I found some bad Italian displayed on the public street, and duly reported it to my audience in the post called La commissione libera. Over the time, things could only get worse, and they actually did! I can now prove, through the pictures I’m publishing here, that my beloved native language is being terribly mishandled all over the town.
I won’t mention the names of those wrongdoers, but Brightonians might recognize some of the places. Three of them claim to be Italian restaurants, by the way…
So here goes the list of shame…
1. “Fungi” instead of “Funghi”.
2. “Proscuito” and “Gorgonzolla” instead of “Prosciutto” and “Gorgonzola”.
3. “Specialita” instead of “Specialità”.
4. “Caffe” instead of Caffè”
5. “Mozarella” instead of “Mozzarella”.
6. “Spaguetti” and “Linguini” instead of “Spaghetti” and “Linguine”.
7. “Prosseco” instead of “Prosecco”.
8. Well, this one is a real mess! I counted 7 mistakes on just one side of the billboard! Let’s try and recap them all: “Proscuito” (look who’s here!), “Al Funghi”, “Bolgnese”, “Arrabbiatta”, “Alforno”, “Florentina” instead of “Prosciutto”, “Ai Funghi”, “Bolognese”, “Arrabbiata”, “Al Forno”, “Alla Fiorentina”.
Now, the question is: is it really so much troublesome to brush up on the spelling? Come on, you lazy bunch of people, it’s not! 🙂
By the way, I’m afraid I’m getting some sort of neurosis: it seems I can’t approach anything allegedly Italian without starting to shake… I need do something about this, and I will!
Jokes apart, the linguist in me urged to find an explanation for those mistakes. There’s quite a lot to say on each of them, but I’d rather not be too pedantic here… I’ll just drive your attention on an issue that’s always tricky for my English students: geminate consonants. This is because the English language doesn’t feature the “doubled” sound of consonants. In the examples above, we find a good variety of cases in which the writers were completely lost: they either “forgot” a consonant, or doubled it when unnecessary (hypercorrection?). The word “Prosseco” is a real gem: it contains both mistakes 🙂
One last remark on “fungi” instead of “funghi”. This is probably due to the fact that the word “fungi” in English actually exists, as one of the plural forms of “fungus”, the other being a more English sounding “funguses”. Still I’m sure none of you out there would ever order “fungi” at a restaurant (except for truffles, of course!). As you may know, most of them are inedible parasites…
After reading this post, a friend told me an interesting episode happened in London. He asked for a bruschetta (it was part of the menu), but the guy at the counter seemed not to understand. After a while he “corrected” my friend saying: “Ah, you mean bruscetta!”. That’s funny, because the proper Italian pronunciation is close to “brew – skate – tah”, but the guy thought it was “brew – shet – tah”, following the English usage. The moral of this story is: even when an Italian word is spelt correctly, the pronunciation may be wrong! By the way, my friend played dumb and sayed: “Yes, a bruscetta, please!”…
PS Left click on any of the images above the text to start a gallery presentation. Right click on each and open in new tab/window to see them in full size.