For extra flavor to your meal, add Italian.
Mr. Parker: 'Fra-gi-le'... it must be Italian!
I think that says 'fragile', honey.
When in Hollywood Italy
, speak as the Italians do. Or, at least, in a fair approximation.
A work set in Italy, or featuring Italian characters, will often insert Italian words or phrases in the dialogue, for "flavor". Italian is also a favorite language of opera singers and classical musicians and the official language of The Mafia
. And, supposedly, everything sounds more romantic in Italian.
Culinary and musical terms are often used, because that's what many people associate Italian with. This is Truth in Television
, somewhat, as many of these terms have been exported from Italian and don't have an English equivalent; "mamma mia!" is often heard, even though it's hardly the only Italian exclamation available.
Naturally, even though the people speaking Italian are supposedly Italian themselves, they will never, never
pronounce certain words correctly. For instance, the word capisci
is always pronounced "kah-pee
sh" instead of "kah-pee
sh-ee"; however, this is a bit of truth in television as dropping final syllables like this is (sometimes) the easiest marker of southern Italian dialects and accent; because most of the immigrants to America came from either Naples or Sicily, these accents tend to predominate in American media. Also, at the turn of the century when most of the Italians came to America, very few of them spoke "Italian" or - to be more specific - the language based on the Tuscan dialect that one learns in school, but rather they spoke only their local dialects, which could be as different from each other and standard Italian as Italian is from Spanish (not to mention the ones who spoke Greek or Albanian).
Don't expect the grammar to be correct, either. Verb-object agreement is a source of trouble, and - unlike English - Italian adjectives are gendered, which is often ignored. For example, "bravo" should be "brava" if referring to a woman. A really lazy way of doing it is having the characters simply speak English, but with a heavy accent and with unstressed "a's" tacked onto the end of random words
. ("Give-a the ugly kid a plate of the red-a crap!")
Italy has many different accents, which can vary wildly between regions. The ones that are most often heard in the media are those typical of Southern Italy, especially Naples or Sicily (the latter is commonly associated with the Mafia). There are also many regional dialects, some of which are different languages from Italian itself.
open/close all folders
Creazioni Originali dei Fan (Fan Works)
- SOS Pretty Cure has the Cures start their attack incantations with the line: "Spiriti cattivi andatevene, perché io vi schiaccerò!". Translates to "Evil spirits begone, for I will crush you!".
- Also, the Cures' names are Italian translations of "God", "Key", "Alien", "Time", and "Psychic", and there are several Italian words and phrases scattered throughout the series in miscellany (including "capisci?").
- Otto goes into this in A Fish Called Wanda, largely because it's a turn-on for Wanda.
- Pistachio and and his grandfather speak this after Pistachio says something to Jennifer about her bottom while finding an assistant in "The Masterof Disguise," and it also happens in the beginning of the movie when Pistachio says, "Fantastico."
Televisione (Live-Action TV)
- Birca in Engine Sentai Go-onger. Birca is a giant green orca/motorcycle mecha, so the Italian is minimal compared to everything else about him.
- Sofia from The Golden Girls constantly spouted off gratuitous Italian (or Sicilian) phrases, especially when riled or passing on a proverb.
- Mid 90s European videogames TV channel Game Network broadcast all over the continent in a number of languages from Italy. The channel's news programme at one stage would read stories alternately in English and Italian. This may/may not be Gratuitous English.
- In the first season of Soap Danny is seen conversing in extremely gibberish-sounding Italian when he was in the The Mafia and under the impression he was Italian.
- Sometimes invoked in Whose Line Is It Anyway?. The ep with special guest Robin Williams had one game with Robin and Ryan as pizza chefs — the first thing they did was swear at each other in vaguely Italian gibberish.
- In Doctor Who, one of the Tenth Doctor's many catchphrases is: "molto bene!".
- Friends has Joey Tribbiani who, as an Italian-American, often utters random Italian sentences, and a lot of Italian sounding gibberish.
- On Bitchin' Kitchen all kinds. Both cookbooks provide a glossary and the show has short spots where Nadia defines a word for the viewer. Also, torrents of gratuitous Greek any time Panos' wife appears.
- In Leonardo, the Translation Convention means everyone in Florence speaks English, but they still dot their language with "magnifico" and "scusi".
- Cibo Matto meant their name to be Italian for "food-crazy", as their songs had frequent references to food. However, "cibo matto" is more accurately translated as "crazy food".
- Akiko Shikata likes to insert Italian lyrics in her songs, most famously in her various themes for Umineko no Naku Koro ni but also in other songs like Kuon no Umi (a song revering the sea), or in a good half of the album Haikyo to Rakuen. The idea is probably to give a more majestic feel to the songs.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic parodies this in his song "Lasagna" which names many Italian foods while rattling off Italian phrases.
Manga e Anime
- Professor Chronos in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX used some random Italian phrases in his speech. (The "na no ne" he ends sentences with is Japanese, though.)
- Izumi from Digimon Frontier uses Italian exclamations from time to time. She moved to Italy at a young age, and had only recently come back to Japan. Commozione~
- Parco Folgore in Gash Bell.
- Chad in Bleach has a tattoo that says "amore e morte" - Italian for "love and death" (he's Mexican, by the way, and in Spanish it should be "amor y muerte").
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn! throws in a lot of Italian, including attack names (being Shōnen, after all). To be fair though, most of those characters actually are Italian, and the series centers around The Mafia. And since the author apparently consults an actual Italian, most of it seems pretty sound, but there are still things like "Elettrico Cornata".note
- Gunslinger Girl also throws in a lot of Italian, which isn't surprising since the setting's in Italy.
- The Numbers Cyborgs of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, whose names are the numbers one to twelve in Italian, except for Sein (the actual Italian word for six is "sei", without the n), Wendy and Deed (the Italian for eleven and twelve is "undici" e "dodici" rispettivamente).
- Another One Piece example: Sir Crocodile uses gratuitous Italian (as well as English, Spanish, and French) in most of his attack names. Badly, at least in the Italian publication, where it's mixed with English: "Ground Secco" ("secco" means "dry") and "Desert Spada" ("spada" means "sword") and "Desert Girasole" ("Sunflower"). In the original Japanese, Crocodile says "Deserto Spada" or "Deserto Girasole". Though this could be interpreted just as Engrish gibberish, it's also true that "deserto" is the ACTUAL Italian word for desert. It must be noted though that the real Italian expression for "Desert Sword" would not be "Deserto Spada" but, rather, "Spada del deserto".
- ARIA takes place in a copy of Venice, so there is some Italian used in series. Curiously though, most written text in the show is actually in Esperanto.
- Italy Romano and Italy Veneziano from Axis Powers Hetalia both sometimes insert random Italian words or phrases into their speech (as do the rest of the personified nations with their respective languages).
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni has this in spades:
- Both the openings for the sound novels and the anime have lyrics in Italian.
- Beatrice's name is said the Italian way ("Bay-ah-tree-chay" as opposed to the more Americanized "Bee-uh-triss").
- Divine Comedy references abound.
- And Beatrice Castiglioni, a character who is actually Italian.
- The Dolems in RahXephon are named after Italian-derived musical terms ("Fortissimo", "Arpeggio", "Mezzoforte", etc.).
- Speaking of which, Mezzo Forte is also the name of an action-packed hentai OVA series.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica and its Spin-Offs Puella Magi Kazumi Magica and Puella Magi Oriko Magica are this in terms of Calling Your Attacks. Mami Tomoe of the parent series is the biggest, with her ultimate attack Tiro Finale, or "Final Shot". She gets mocked for this practice in two of the drama CDs. In one of the drama CDs, it's also revealed that Kyouko used to have the ability to create illusory copies of herself. Mami suggests calling this "attack" Rosso Fantasma (Red ghost, should be Fantasma Rosso). In Kazumi Magica Kazumi is then copying from Mami which in turn her fellow Pleiades Saints are copying from her.
- Fairy Tail has some Italian here and there, including the kingdom of Fiore ("flower") and Aria ("air"), member of the Element Four. The Sky Dragon's name can also be read as Grandine, meaning "Hail"note .
- A Certain Magical Index falls into this on occasion, understandable since the Roman Catholic Church is a major antagonist: "Croce di Pietro" (St. Peter's Cross), "La Regina del Mare Adriatico" (The Queen of the Adriatic Sea), and "La Persona Superiore a Dio" (The Person Above God) have all been thrown around here and there.
- Galilei Donna has Cicinho throwing in the odd bit of Italian. Which is rather confusing, as it'd be assumed that everyone is speaking Italian to begin with.
- In the "Musica ex Machina" arc of Jormungand, Chinatsu and her boss suddenly start talking to each other in Italian while they are wandering the streets of Dubai. Presumably it was to throw off eavesdroppers.
- Natsume Ono loves this trope. For instance, in La Quinta Camera they don't celebrate Christmas, they celebrate "Natale."
Giochi di Ruolo (Roleplaying Games)
- The very title of Fate Nuovo Guerra, a Fate/stay night Play-by-Post Game set in Italy.
- Again, it is incorrect because of the issue with gendered adjectives.
- Actually, the correct spelling should be either "Fate una Nuova Guerra" or "Fate di Nuovo Guerra".
Videogiochi (Video Games)
- Morrie from Dragon Quest VIII.
- Assassins Creed II is full of it, being set in Italy.
- Played for Laughs in this Penny Arcade comic. And it still manages to sound sexy and badass. Read it aloud in your best / worst Italian accent for the full effect.
- Considering the nature of Assassin's Creed gameplay though, it's actually due to incomplete translation software, and Desmond Miles ends up thanking the resident techie for the subtitles he's seeing. By Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood the software's been improved so the effect is lessened, though only for Italian — German and French are left untranslated. (The subtitles available to the player however provide a translation.)
- And then of course there are Mario and his brother Luigi. Hilariously so in the Mario & Luigi games where, when talking to non-speaking NPCs, they speak Italian-sounding gibberish.
- All the levels in Super Mario Sunshine are in Italian. Bianco = white, Pianta = plant, and so forth. It's actually pretty correct Italian save for "Il Piantissimo". The...plant-iest? The big cry? note
- In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the demon Horkos will tend to yell "BUONO!" no matter whether he's being hit or if he's eating.
- In Persona 2, Maya likes saying "Ciao!" and "Grazie!" a lot.
- Used badly in Devil May Cry 2 with the "Arcana" MacGuffin. First, in Italian the noun precede the adjective (so it should be Spada Arcana or Medaglia Arcana). Second, Calice and Bastone are male nouns, so they should be "Arcano". Last but not least, the plural form would be "Arcani". Then again, this is Devil May Cry, so they probably didn't care too much.
- In the first Metal Slug, there is a level set in Italy. One of the signs on the shops in the background says "Liutaio", or luthier, another says "Carne", or meat, and there is a "Posta", which is the post office. However, there is also a "Kocher", and a "Playa" which means beach in Spanish, so make what you will of that.
- One boss in Castle Crashers is named Pipistrello, the Italian for Bat.
- Vampire Savior introduces Jedah, the new Big Bad of the series, whose moves all have (broken) Italian names despite him not being Italian himself: Dio Sega = Saw of God (Sega di Dio is more accurate); Nero Fatica = Black Fatigue (Fatica Nera); Ira Spinta = Angry Thrust (Spinta Irata); Spregio = Defiance (this one's correct); Sangue Passare = Passage of Blood (Passaggio di Sangue); Prova di Servo = Proof of the Servant (in the context, it could be also Proof of Servitude; in this case, it could also be Prova di Schiavitù); Finale Rosso = Red Ending (this one's right too).
- Sadly enough, "Dio Sega" is also quite a blasphemy in Italian. Not a very widespread one, but still a blasphemy.
- The Kingdom Hearts franchise is rather fond of this; one of the series' most prominent Recurring Riffs, "Destati" (Awaken), has Italian lyrics, and several of the remixed boss themes in 3D have the same name as their original counterparts... except in Italian.
- The final championship in Test Drive Unlimited is called Viaggio Grande, which translates to "Great Journey".
Creazioni Originali della Rete (Web Original)
- In the late years of the Chaos Timeline, there are artificial insects (flying nanotech robots) called Zanzara. Also, the Renaissance is known under the incorrect Italian term Rinascita (Renaissance is Rinascimento in Italian) in this history, rather than the French term from our history.
- In their riff of Titanic, the guys make fun of Fabrizio's accent at every opportunity. Any scene he's in is replaced with cries of Pasta, mafia, minestrone!, Mafia rigatoni?!, Francesco Rinaldi!, etc.
Fumetti in Rete (Webcomics)
Cartoni Animati (Western Animation)
Vita Reale (Real Life)
- Classical music terminology runs on this trope as well as Gratuitous German, but specifically, Italian tends to be the universal language for sheet music markings, including the tempo (itself an Italian loan-word), dynamics, and various technique markings. Which means musicians across the world know at least a few words in Italian, like forte (loud) and presto (very fast).
- Related to the above: Throughout the 18th century, "serious" operas by Austro-German composers were written in Italian. The German-language singspiele (like Mozart's The Magic Flute) were generally seen as lighter fare. More bizarrely, many operas produced in 18th-century Hamburg (e.g. Handel's Almira) had the arias sung in Italian, though the rest of the opera would be sung in German.
- Weirdly, the British in the 19th century enforced this trope even deeper: their biggest opera company (the one in residence at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden was very definitely the Italian Opera until the end of the century. Operas originally scored in French or German were only performed in Italian translations at the ROH for decades.
- Japanese took the Italian as their idol in soccer, and is very likely to integrate Italian in their names. Just check The Other Wiki list of Japanese pro soccer teams and how many were inspired by the Italian language...
- Many an Italian restaurant in the English-speaking world (at least) will call itself a "ristorante" or perhaps a trattoria to indicate a higher class of cuisine.
- In general, Italian cookery has overtaken French as a favorite for foreign restaurateurs looking for a classy European menu style, as it's seen as being much less snooty but is also understood to be from a grand culinary tradition (and is also objectively delicious). In such restaurants (or, as they call themselves, ristorantes and trattorias), never expect an appetizer to be called anything other than an antipasto, a salad to be called anything other than an insalata, or a soup a zuppa (unless it's minestrone), or raw anything anything other than crudo, or a first course anything but a primo, etc.—and all of it will be pronounced in as close to Italian as the waiter can manage.
- Gratuitous French is usually switched with Gratuitous Italian in French dubs.
- The official motto of the US State of Maryland eschews Latin for Italian—the only Italian motto in the country—but it is not merely Italian, but archaic Italian: Fatti maschii, parole femine. (In modern Italian, it would be spelled maschi and femmine.) It literally means "Manly deeds, womanly words," although the official translation is "Strong deeds, gentle words," which for those playing along at home is basically the same as "Speak softly and Carry a Big Stick."