Legal English – Peter’s Pills – Lesson 43 – English words that the English do not understand

Legal English for Notaries - By Federnotizie

English words that the English do not understand



Today we will look at some words that Italian people have borrowed from English, but which are used in a way that native English speakers would not easily understand. In bold is what you should say if want a native English speaker to understand you:

  • Basket – The sport is called basketball in English. We use a basket” for picnics. If you say “Do you want to play basket?” We will understand “Do you want to play cestino?” You should say “Do you want to play basketball?“;
  • Bar – The Italian “bar” is similar to an English “café“. For us a “bar” means a “pub” where coffee and tea are not served. If you say “Let’s go to the bar for breakfast”, I presume we will have beer and fish and chips;
  • Block-notes or Bloc-notes – In English we call it a notepad;
  • Body rental – Is a temporary staffing firm when referred to the company offering temporary staff, or temporary staff if referring to the person who is filling a temporary position;
  • Box – “Box” means “scatola” in English. A car is parked in a garage;
  • Box docciashower cubicle;
  • Cotton fioc – We say Cotton bud (UK) or cotton swab (USA);
  • Un discount – A Hard-discount supermarket. “Discount” only means “sconto” in English;
  • Una fiction – A miniseries. “Fiction” means “storia o racconto di fantasia” in English;
  • Un talent – A talent show. “Talent” means “talento” in English;
  • Un golf – A sweater or a jumper or a jersey. “Golf” is a sport in the UK and USA;
  • Un Mister – A football coach;
  • Un night – A nightclub. On its own “night” only means notte in English;
  • Un residence – A residencial hotel, a residency hotel or an extended stay hotel;
  • Un happy hour – A happy hour is a time when drinks are sold cheaply, or half price, in a bar to encourage drinking and to get the bar full earlier. There is no equivalent for what Italians take to mean as “apericena”. At a Happy Hour in the UK or USA you drink a lot and pay very little. At a Happy Hour in Italy you drink very little and eat a lot!;
  • Fare footingGo jogging. “Footing” in English means “appoggio per i piedi“;
  • Plum cakeLoaf cake. For us a plum cake means “torta di prugne“;
  • PullmanLuxury bus or coach;
  • PungiballPunching bag or punching ball;
  • Sexy shopSex Shop. “Sexy shop” to us would mean that the shop, itself, is very sexy (che il negozio stesso è sexy e affascinante);
  • Social – We say Social network;
  • Fare un po’ di social – to go onto social networking sites for a while;
  • lo SmartworkingWorking from home or Remote working. We have no idea what you mean if you say “He is in smartworking”. Please say “He is working from home“;
  • SpotTV advert. For us “spot” means macchia;
  • StageInternship. “Stage” means “palcoscenico; palco“. Fare uno stageto do an internship;
  • Un ticketpay the cost associated to a National Health Care System service;
  • TightMorning Suit or Morning Dress;
  • Un trolleyRoller bag or Suitcase with wheels. Trolley means “carrello da supermercato o da trasporto” in English, So if you say “I’ll take a trolley on my trip”, we understand that you will be using a supermarket trolley, like a homeless person;
  • TutorSpeed camera or Traffic enforcement camera;
  • WaterWater closet or W.C. or toilet. “Water” on its own only means “acqua“;
  • Un WriterGraffiti writer or Graffiti artist;
  • Un Babykiller or Baby KillerJuvenile murderer. If you say “baby killer” an English speaker would understand “a person who kills babies”.

Thank you very much and see you next time for more Peter’s Pills to improve your Legal English!

You might enjoy these 19 cultural differences that English people discover when living in Italy: “The Intrepid Guide“.

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