Twenty-five years have passed but words have lost none of their importance and his reaction is as relevant as ever. It is, in fact, increasingly difficult to read an article or watch a TV programme that doesn’t contain any foreign terms, the odd Anglicism or mangled versions of other foreign languages. Just imagine what would happen if Michele Apicella had to attend a briefing meeting with the project manager of a branding agency and a company marketing manager. And just imagine the insults I’ve have got for even writing that sentence.
The concepts of Branding and marketing were invented by the Anglo-Saxons, so it makes sense that much of the terminology used in these two fields is English. Their names have even been adopted without any translation into our language. In fact, the very idea of translating marketing with ‘strategia dei mercati’ or branding with ‘progettazione della marca’ is not only weird but downright reductive.
There’s no need to get up in arms about this but perhaps Michele Apicella – and he wouldn’t be alone – would object if he heard that a new brand stretching project had passed the briefing phase following extensive brainstorming, a series of refinements and debriefing and subsequently a test in which a panel of consumers validated marketing’s big idea which will now be presented with at a cascade meeting in order to bring everyone up to speed on the outputs and deadline. You need a dictionary to work out the lingo to begin with, but then you just get used to it.
However, we must bear in mind that languages evolve, sometimes due to contamination, and that neologisms are constantly being invented all over the world. Without forgetting of course, that speaking more than one language correctly and contemporarily, handling different lines of thought and using the wealth of two vocabularies is without a doubt a sign of maturity and intelligence. Many other common terms in the Italian language have been adopted from other languages and nobody finds it weird. Sport, computer, toast, autobus, brioche: what would we call them in Italian? Mind you, neologisms and foreign languages are one thing, but Itanglese is quite another. To return to Mario Apicella, just imagine his reaction upon hearing the verbs endorsare (from the English to endorse, the Italian word is supportare), strecciare (from to stretch, estendere), scrinare (to screen, selezionare), draivare (to drive, guidare), mecciare (to match, abbinare) or ciallengiare (to challenge, sfidare). Or adocchizzato adjectives (invented ad hoc) such as gastronomizzato (prepared using gastronomical techniques), editato (edited) or impattante (having an impact). I’ve heard them all, many a time, and I just smile.
While Italian may not have coined the terms for marketing and branding, it is the fourth most studied language in the world and has a sufficiently large vocabulary for us to find the right alternative to many abused foreign terms. Without wishing to appear nostalgic and conservative, and certainly without being insulted by anyone, I am still conscious that “words can be like X-rays; if used properly, they go through anything”. And with a closing quotation from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, I can claim to be a cultured writer.
Giacomo Cesana, Creative Director