Mr. Parker: 'Fra-gi-le'... it must be Italian!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-peesh" instead of "kah-peesh-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. As you might expect (given the parellel example of British versus American English ) spoken Italian in North America has diverged from the European version to the point where linguists consider it a seperate dialect of its own. See Everybody Loves Raymond below for examples. This is a subtrope of Gratuitous Foreign Language and really should be used with extreme care.
Mrs. Parker: I think that says 'fragile', honey.
Mrs. Parker: I think that says 'fragile', honey.
— A Christmas Story note
open/close all folders
Anime e Manga
- 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).
- 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").
- 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.
- 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~
- 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 .
- 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.
- Gunslinger Girl also throws in a lot of (bad) Italian, which isn't surprising since it's set in Italy.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Vento Aureo that is set in Italy. Many characters are named after Italian foods. Examples include Pannacotta Fugo, Risotto Nero, Melone, Cioccolata, Gelato, Sorbet, Prosciutto, Pesci, Formaggio, and Mario Zucchero.
- Some fansubs groups of the first season of the anime also add a bit of Italian when either of the Zeppelis are involved.
- While it's not the Italian language per se, the vast majority of American citizens in Stone Ocean (set in Florida, US) have Italian names for some reason (because Araki names most Stand masters after famous fashion designers and companies, but there's no In-Universe reason).
- 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.
- 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
- The Numbers Cyborgs of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, 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).
- Speaking of which, Mezzo Forte is also the name of an action-packed hentai OVA series.
- Natsume Ono loves this trope. For instance, in La Quinta Camera they don't celebrate Christmas, they celebrate "Natale."
- 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".
- 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.
- The Dolems in RahXephon are named after Italian-derived musical terms ("Fortissimo", "Arpeggio", "Mezzoforte", etc.).
- The Aldini twins, Takumi and Isami, from Shokugeki no Soma throw in lots of Italian words. From the two, Takumi is the one who uses more words, most commonly "grazie" ("thank you").
- Umineko: When They Cry 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.
- 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.)
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 Master of Disguise, and it also happens in the beginning of the movie when Pistachio says, "Fantastico."
- Nick Nolte as Augusto says many things in Italian in Lorenzos Oil. Nolte studied Augusto carefully to make sure he really sounded as well as looked and behaved like him, so we know he did this in Real Life. Augusto was from Gamalero and probably spoke Piedmontese, but it's reasonable to assume he also spoke classic Florentine Tuscan as he does in the film. There's a point about midway through where he fires off a lengthy (subtitled) rant to Micaela.
- An early use of gratuitous Italian is in Emma, where the crass new wife of Mr. Elton constantly calls her husband her "cara sposo". The phrase is grammatically incorrect (it should be "caro sposo") and was in Austen's time a tired old catchphrase, but this was deliberate: Austen was sending up Mrs. Elton as a badly-educated social climber. (Strangely, some editions of Emma correct the spelling, probably because the editors are ignorant of Austen's intentions.)
- The Discworld novel Maskerade is a parody of The Phantom of the Opera and features opera prominently, so naturally it has grammatically incorrect Gratuitous Italian. A scene in the opera has a young woman singing about how hard it is for her to leave her lover: "Questa maledetta porta si blocca, si blocca comunque diavolo io faccio...!". Then, the aria is translated into English:
This damn door sticks
This damn door sticks
It sticks no matter what the hell I do
It's marked "Pull" and indeed I am pulling
Perhaps it should be marked "Push"?
- Towards the end of The Count of Monte Cristo, Danglars escapes to Italy and shouts orders to the coach driver using musical terms, the only Italian words he knows. This however is a case of In-Universe Fridge Brilliance on his part, he probably knows that presto means quickly.
- Marie Corelli was an expert at many things, but language wasn't one of them. She was (or said she was) half Italian but spent most of her childhood in England, then was educated in France. She was a concert pianist, so probably most of her knowledge of Italian came from her musical education. Her attempts to use the language in her writing are laughably bad.
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!", which means "very good!"
- 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".
- Largely averted in Everybody Loves Raymond. where although the protaganists are a lively Italian-American family, any use of Italian is kept to the (American-Italian) names of foodstuffs note . Conversational Italian is used only in episodes where the plot demands it: Mia Famiglia, where the Barones welcome a visiting relative from Italy and speak it freely at the dinner table, and in the two-parter where the whole family goes to Italy on holiday.note
- In Kitchen Nightmares, the pretentious owner of Sebastiane's in Los Angeles chivvies a waitress (an out-of-work actress) into delivering Gordon Ramsay's pizza, in the deluded hope he will be impressed by her use of the phrase...
(Waitress, hamming it up with deliberate Up to Eleven) As Sebastiane's mother would say, mangia!(Gordon Ramsay, one step away from doing the face-palm thing): Okay, darling, you've got the part!
- 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: When They Cry 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.
- Front 242 randomly sneak this into a few of their songs— "I nostri sogni sono sempri presenti"note can be heard towards the end of "Work 01", and "Due Quattro Due" is repeated multiple times in "Im Rhythmus Bleiben".
Fumetti di Giornale (Newspaper Comics)
- There are several examples of this on the radio game show Ask Me Another (where it is specifically used to make some games harder), which makes sense, since the in-house musician (who occasionally provides the questions/hints for the games) Jonathan Coulton studied the language while he was still in school.
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; the correct spelling should be either "Fate una Nuova Guerra" or "Fate di Nuovo Guerra". (Even more confusingly, "fate" in Italian, pronounced "fa-tay," means "fairies.")
- Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers has some Gratuitous Italian singing in its opening scene, where the gondoliers and girls greet each other ("buongiorno, signorine!").
- The Most Happy Fella has quite a lot of Gratuitous Italian spoken and sung by the main character and the comic trio of Pasquale, Ciccio and Giuseppe. The latter three sing "Abbondanza" and "Benvenuta" entirely in Italian.
- In the musical The Phantom of the Opera, Carlotta uses some Italian phrases of the operatic type (though not in the Show Within a Show scenes, which obey the Translation Convention) like:
"O, fortunata! Non ancor abbandonata!".
- In The Fantasticks, the musicians start playing the Rape Ballet when they hear its director call out "accelerando con molto!". This isn't very grammatical, but hey...
- A number of Gian Carlo Menotti's operas do this, as Menotti himself was Italian. There are numerous sections of The Saint Of Bleecker Street where the characters all speak Italian (justified in that they are all of Italian descent), the foreign woman's lines in The Consul, and a duet from Maria Golovin.
- The Rose Tattoo has many characters, especially Serafina, who speak Italian. It helps that most of the characters are Sicilian-American, though they limit their Italian conversations to short phrases.
Videogiochi (Video Games)
- Morrie from Dragon Quest VIII.
- Assassin's 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. Luigi tends to use more Gratuitous Italian than his brother, predominantly words like Ciao! and Grazie! in the likes of Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, etc.
- 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".
- The 21st installment of the beatmania IIDX series is subtitled SPADA, which means "sword". Guess what its theme revolves around. It also introduces new Harder Than Hard versions of songs that are subtitled "†LEGGENDARIA", which means "legendary" (it's shortened to just † in the following game).
- There's also the song LA FESTA LA VITA!!, which literally means "THE FESTIVAL THE LIFE!!".
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)
- Guido from Cars, who is a small blue forklift that can only speak Italian.
- Funnily enough, in the Italian dub it was rendered with a heavy bolognese accent.
- And Guido, while being a perfectly normal and common Italian first name, is also the first person, present tense, of the verb "to drive" (a car).
- Funnily enough, in the Italian dub it was rendered with a heavy bolognese accent.
- In Code Lyoko, Odd says something in Italian. Jeremie, who stinks at it, asks him "Huh?"
Odd: It means you really stink in Italian, Jeremie, good buddy.
- In DuckTales, "Hotel Strangeduck", Benzino Gasolini throws Italian phrases into his sentences all the time.
- Family Guy: Peter Griffin parodied this once by entering an Italian deli and thinking that because of his new mustache, he could actually speak Italian. He wound up repeating random Italian-sounding gibberish, angering the man at the counter, who actually threatened to kill him with the deli goods.
- The Simpsons has an episode set in Italy, specifically in Tuscany in the small country of "Salsiccia" (Sausage). However it was used incorrectly. Sorry, but "Plagiarismo" and "Mayore" aren't the Italian for Plagiarism and Mayor.note Of course, that episode is fond of errors.
- The Triplets of Belleville. The song heard in the barbershop, which is fucking hilarious if you actually know Italian.
- Gurggle from Mixels is given an Italian accent, and adds various Italian words into his speech.
- Anyone who's lived in Spain may (or may not) be familiar with "Los Televicentes", one of a number of animated "time to go to bed" PSAs. At one point during the song, "Don Pepe" (who the talking parrot calls "Don Pepino"; itself an example) says "Io sono el nuovo presentatore Don Pepe"note , which is mostly correct, except for the "el" (it should be "il"); somewhat justified since the Spanish speaking viewers would likely figure it out anyway, since some parts of Italian aren't all that different from Spanish.
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. Since musicians across the world have come to know at least a few words in Italian, like forte (loud) and presto (very fast), composers have freely mixed common Italian terminology with performance directions in their own languages, e.g. "Più mosso (doch nicht alla breve)" in Gustav Mahler's third symphony.
- 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.
- Trattoria is actually a cheaper, less fancy restaurant, usually offering fewer, less complicated dishes, possibly at a fixed price.
- 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 (unless it's a carpaccio), 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."
- Most if not all of Fiat vehicles, specially if they weren't made at the Italy headquarters but one of the foreign plants such as in Brazil. The most blatant is the Fiat 500, which is always referred to as "Cinquecento".