by Melinda Gallo

Word of the day

I receive an Italian word every day via email from Zanichelli, an Italian publisher of dictionaries. The words are usually quite interesting and always come with at least one example as well as a brief history of the word as well. Today's word of the day was americanata, which obviously comes from americano/a (American).

The definition of americanata is a bit pejorative and without a real word for word translation. It basically means Impresa grandiosa, straordinaria, spesso incredibile (magnificent, extraordinary, and often incredible action/event), but supposedly attributed to the way Americans are known for doing things.

Zanichelli said that the word was introduced in 1890, but I read on another website that the word might have come out with the influx of American movies in Italy because they were considered over-the-top and extravagant.

When I first read the word of the day, I felt a tad insulted. But I know from talking to my Italian friends that their idea of how we live in the US is that everything is over-sized and in excess. Everything from our cars, houses, and refrigerators to even the people. They consider our society to be usa e getta (throwaway), which they are slowly adopting themselves, albeit half-heartedly.

I will say that we do have a lot of americanate in our country that I don't think we really see until we leave. Now that we don't watch the American TV news and commercials (we do watch a few of the shows though here in Italy), we don't get all the 24-hour hoopla about every news event that happens in the US. I get all my news from different websites and Italian television, so I don't keep up with the up-to-the-minute gossip on every singer and actor in America.

I don't believe that the americanate are all bad. I think it is a part of our American culture. We each seem to have the same "reach for the stars" dream that is simmering somewhere inside of us. Some people believe it'll be by having a winning lottery ticket or the golden ticket on American Idol (yes, I do watch it!). When I speak to a few of my friends in Italy, they seem to be more content with the fact that they have a full-time job than they are about doing what they love. Of course, some people love what they do, like my friend Simone who is a chef, but that is a luxury some people here cannot afford.

And, maybe I am naïve, but I thought that's what our American culture instilled in us. For good or for bad, if you dream about doing something in your life, do it, and the money (and hopefully happiness) will follow.

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