Panino, Panini? Who Cares?
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Alright, I am about to step on really thin ice and will likely be accused of being just another snobby European. Here it goes: When will the linguistic globalization finally reach America? Did you know when you order a panini, you technically order a rolls? No, not a typo. Panini in Italian is plural for panino (a roll). I wish they charged you for rolls instead of one roll but they don’t know any better. Same with cappuccino. No, it’s not cappuccinos, Dio mio! See panino, and you will know the answer.
So, why do I care? Frankly, despite my rant, I have pretty much given up. Actually, I use a pen name to order my cappuccino at Starbucks, because my first name is such a challenge. You wouldn’t believe it, but I use an Italian name. It is phonetically much easier on everybody than the French first name my parents bestowed on me.
So back to why I care. I care, because I love language and its many meanings. Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter whether you are American, Chinese or Italian. We all struggle, even with our mother tongue. But there is such a thrill in learning more about a language and putting it to use. I still get a kick out of using a new word for the first time…hopefully in the right context. And, I am the first one to admit, there is still a whole lot for me to learn about the English language. For example, when I went in to see an optometrist and asked to see the ophthalmologist.
I know, similar and yet quite different. But who cares?!