Music to My Ears

This observation is strictly anecdotal, but one of the many endearing things I’ve come across in Italians is an enthusiasm for adopting American parlance, even when they don’t really speak English. It’s charming, welcoming, and sometimes hilarious. To wit:


Shopkeepers who’ve pegged me as American (as they almost always do) have on several occasions responded to me in Sinatra lyrics, saying things like “I did it my way” when I admired something they’d made or “I will start spreading the news” when I asked them to arrange to have something shipped.


Store and brand names sometimes borrow from English to unintentionally amusing effect.

(Those that incorporate an exclamation point for emphasis get extra credit.).  These are 4 of my favorites.

  • Expensive!  The perhaps-not-as-inviting-as-one-would-have-hoped name of a chain that sells fashion accessories —no doubt those that aspire to the luxe. The merchandise is, in fact, modestly priced.

  • Baby Yogurt  A small franchise that serves up frozen yogurt and gelato, presumably not made by or of babies. I don’t know why “baby,” but my best guess is it’s meant to imply the ingredients are wholesome enough for the little ones to consume.


  • Big Americans  Oven-ready supermarket pizza. Although we Americans and our ample dimensions (in ample touring sweatsuits) were for a time a punchline in some parts of Italy, I truly believe this insult was unintended.

And my all-time favorite…

  • Splat!  The almost-nailed-it name of a swimwear and water sports store in Florence (now out of business).

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