Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano is being slammed for criticising the use of foreign (English) words in Italian – and using foreign words when doing so.
The right-wing politician said: “I believe that a certain abuse of English-speaking terms is a part of a certain snobbery, very ‘radical chic’, that comes from the lack of awareness of the global value of Italian culture”.
In Italian, Sangiuliano used the expression “snobismo, molto radical chic”. Chic, of course, is a French word.
Snobismo is derived from the English word ‘snob’, and translates rougly as ‘snobbery’. The phrase ‘radical chic’, which was coined in 1970s America to describe fashionably left-wing political views, is rarely used by native Engish speakers today, but is widely used in Italy.
Italy's culture minister, using English words to complain about Italians using English words. 🤷♀️ https://t.co/YvAol1Sq3e
— Clare Speak (@ClareinItaly) December 29, 2022
The minister’s statements were given in an interview with Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. He commented on the government’s draft proposal to identify the Italian language as part of the country’s national identity in the Constitution.
READ ALSO: Puns and plot spoilers: How English movie titles are translated into Italian
“It is only fair that our language be in the constitution. The Accademia della Crusca (a Florence-based society of scholars of Italian linguistics and philology) should have legal powers similar to what exists in France or Spain”, he said.
He added: “Language is the soul of our nation, the hallmark of its identity.”
Social media backlash
The irony of Sangiuliano’s choice of words, using a foreign word to criticise the over usage of foreign words (though he aimed particularly at English expressions), was not lost on Italian social media users.
One Twitter user commented sarcastically: “Using foreign words to criticise the use of foreign words” and added a check mark. The tweet has been viewed almost 50,000 times and gathered more than 2,000 likes in 24 hours.
Ministro Sangiuliano: "Giusto inserire la lingua italiana nella Costituzione, usare parole straniere è snobismo radical chic"
Usare parole straniere per criticare l’uso di parole straniere ✅
— M49 (@M49liberorso) December 29, 2022
Another sarcastically agreed, and appeared to parody the penchant among Italian politicians for peppering their speech with anglicismi, or English words: “Fair enough. Using foreign words is radical chic because it is trendy and shows you are jet set. You have to go back to using your own slang by default. Without feeling like an underdog, no? OK!”.
Giusto. Usare parole straniere è radical chic, per essere trendy e mostrarsi jet set. Bisogna tornare a usare il proprio slang, di default. Senza sentirsi underdog, no? Ok!#Sangiuliano #radicalchic pic.twitter.com/RQ2c06GZm6
— Mangino Brioches (@manginobrioches) December 29, 2022
Italian politician Elio Vito also commented on the minister’s using three foreign words in a single sentence to defend the Italian language.
Il Ministro della Cultura, Sangiuliano per difendere l'uso della lingua italiana dalle parole straniere ne adopera tre in una sola frase ("snobismo radical chic")…🙄
— Elio Vito 🇮🇹🇪🇺🇺🇸🏳️🌈🍁🌍 (@elio_vito) December 29, 2022
Reminds me of when George W. Bush said that there is no word in French for entrepreneur.