Internationalisms, Anglo-Latinisms and other kinship ties between Italian and English

Virginia Pulcini


In the analysis of language contact and borrowing, the category of internationalism denotes lexical items that are formally and semantically similar across unrelated languages, mainly of neo-classical origin. Internationalisms are characteristically unmarked for a specific national provenance, like the pair En electricity / It elettricità. On the other hand, many similar examples, such as En romantic and It romantico, are the result of borrowings from English into Italian, a fact that can be established only on historical grounds, because the word itself does not reveal any trace of foreignness to the lay Italian speaker, being Italian a Latin-based language. In this paper, the lexical category of internationalism will be defined and set apart from other outcomes of language contact, like direct and indirect Anglicisms, Anglo-Latinisms, and other forms of linguistic kinship between these two, partly unrelated, European languages. Linguistic factors such as etymology, route of transmission, and non-linguistic ones such as historical events and motivation for borrowing (Wexler 1969) are used for this analysis, which will be applied to relevant examples of Italian vocabulary.

Słowa kluczowe: internationalism, language contact, linguistic borrowing, Anglicism

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