Last night I went to see my local football team Celtic play Inter Milan of Italy. A slightly disappointing 3-3 draw, but one of the things I was most looking forward before the game was meeting up with some friends and chaperoning a group of Italians who are friends of my cousin Paolo in Italy and who came over for the game.

As I made arrangements to meet up with the Italians, one thing struck me - the level of fluency in English of the current generation of Italians, specifically up to the age of 40. Having lived in Italy for several years when I was younger, fluency in English was never fact I would say it was minimal. My sense however is that with English becoming the main global language, Italy has not been immune to its linguistic colonisation. In fact putting aside the heavy accent, which is still a feature of most Italian’s attempts at speaking English, the standards from a grammatical, linguistic and vocabulary point of view are up there with the Dutch/Danish/Germans…the nationalities which most would say were most fluent in English.

So on one hand I am delighted by this development as it feels like Italians can participate in the English speaking world far more fully and seriously than in the past – on the other hand a bit of me feels sad..the globalising effects of the English language can also manifest themselves in a global culture which feels increasingly homogenous from one country to the next..and for a country so rich in culture as Italy is this seems an unnecessary but inevitable part of the Anglicisation of the world!


Post by Andy Piacentini

One Comment

  1. This post struck a chord with me. I’ve become too comfortable with the mixture of embarrassment and relief I feel when meetings between employees who can speak at least 2 languages (possibly 3 or 4) are conducted in English. I feel diminished by my inability to fluently converse in a second language and by the complacency that has crept in to my working life knowing that I will only ever be required to transmit and receive communications in English (for those that are not in originally in English are translated).

    Personally, I believe I learned more about cultural differences and the nuance of language having led consultations with a German Work Council, where business had to be conducted in German. Of course concessions were made to accommodate me as the only non bi-lingual party in the room. But the true intent and purpose of the consultation remained intact having not been initially filtered through the translation funnel. I won’t divulge the success of the consultation?!

    In an odd take on the language debate, the parent company of the organisation I currently work for is headquartered in Korea. However, business is conducted in English and, arguably, leadership progression is hindered by the inability to speak English!

    My development plan now includes – learn a language to conversational standard!
    Forza Celts

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