The Italian language is in danger of losing its beauty and complexity, language experts have warned, as writing becomes increasingly simplistic and people rely on an ever-smaller range of vocabulary with which to express themselves.
Italian, as its students know, is a complex language with many fascinating words.
But many of these words are now falling out of use, and apparently our brief communications in the digital age are at least partly to blame.
Editors at the Zanichelli publishing house have drawn up a list of lesser-used words in serious danger of disappearing from the written language altogether, and launched an unusual campaign to save them.
La cultura si fa strada e lascia il segno anche lungo le vie di #Napoli, la città dove la parola #insigne si distingue e ha un significato illustre. #laculturasifastrada #LorenzoInsigne pic.twitter.com/5sCbeYWYGF
— Zanichelli Editore (@Zanichelli_ed) October 24, 2018
Using the words in graffiti on the pavements, editors say, gives “opportunities for reflection on our capacity for expression.”
It’s “not by chance” that the words have been painted in the streets “where we walk with our eyes down, answering messages or looking at the latest social media post,” they added.
From the grand total of 3125 entries, Zanichelli has somehow narrowed the list down to just five words for the campaign using graffiti on Italian city streets.
The five chosen words (and their English translations) are:
- Bòria (noun): haughtiness, conceit
- Denigràre (verb): denigrate, disparage
- Insìgne (adjective): distinguished, eminent
- Solèrte (adjective): diligent, zealous
- Corroborare (verb): corroborate, strengthen
The complete list includes words like ondivago (wavering) and taccagno (miser).
The campaign also features other Italian words that describe literary devices and terms, such as 'onomatopea', as well as false friends in foreign languages.
— mauro8100 ? (@mauro8100) October 21, 2018
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The graffiti can now be seen in the streets of Turin, Milan, Padua and Naples. There are 50 pieces of graffiti in each city, each one marked with the hashtag #laculturasifastrada.
The eco-friendly paint used for the graffiti, apparently made with yogurt, will be removed using ‘nothing but water’ after two weeks.
Cerca parole intraducibili e da salvare, figure retoriche e falsi amici lungo le strade che percorri ogni giorno.
— Zanichelli Editore (@Zanichelli_ed) October 19, 2018