Like many other idioms, Italian is a living language. It is used every day by millions of people, and it changes over time to reflect cultural, political, and social transformations.
Some changes are slow, like grammar mistakes or exceptions being gradually accepted as a norm. Some happen instead pretty quickly, like new words entering the everyday vocabulary. Every year the most prominent institutions dealing with the Italian language publish a list of neologismi— new words that have made it into the daily life of many people and finally, into the Italian dictionaries.
Several Italian neologisms are simply English words that—through newspapers, news, and social media—have been adopted by Italians. Fake news, deep fake, fact-checking, flat tax, and influencer, among many others, are regularly used to express some relatively new concepts, or at least special meanings somehow influenced by social media.
Fake news could be easily replaced by notizie false, but Italian is generally open to foreign words—or, some might argue, Italians are lazy. In other cases, the Italian equivalent is simply not as effective and agile as the English term. Take hater for instance—persona che odia does not convey the same “social media nuance” as hater, plus it is much longer.
A super common 2019 neologism is vocale. The word itself is not new. It translates “vocal” (related to the voice), but 2019 has witnessed the explosion of “vocal messages,” mostly thought Whatsapp, so vocale has become short for messaggio vocale, and you’ll hear ti mando un vocale all the time nowadays.
Some neologisms are simply English terms that have been Italianized: spoilerare, for instance, is obviously from “to spoil,” like stalkerare is from “to stalk,” and bullizzare is from “to bully.”
We’ll need to wait until the first months of 2020 to know what will be crowned as the parola dell’anno 2019. Last year it was Ferragnez, which combines the name of two social celebrities: Chiara Ferragni, the most famous Italian fashion blogger and influencer, and Fedez, an Italian rapper. The two got married in 2018 and #ferragnez went viral and finally made it to Treccani, thus bringing the social couple by definition into one of the most respected and traditional language institutions.