Italian anger over English-language slogans used to promote Rome and country’s navy
Growing use of English in slogans such as “Be Cool, join the Navy” hurt pride in the land of Dante
By Nick Squires, The Telgraph, 23 Feb 2015
It gave the world the linguistic sophistication of Latin and the poetry of Dante, but Italy has had its pride dented by the increasing use of English in prominent publicity campaigns.
Conservative politicians and commentators are indignant that the Italian navy – or Marina Militare – has adopted as its latest recruiting slogan “Be Cool, join the Navy”, using English rather than Italian.
The phrase appears on posters and billboards in a new recruitment campaign, along with images of Italian warships ploughing through the waves and commandos equipped as underwater frogmen.
Fabio Rampelli, an MP with the Right-wing Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party, said the use of English was unpatriotic and unacceptable.
“I ask myself how it came into the mind of the Italian navy to launch, with our money, a campaign in the English language to recruit young people,” he told parliament.
Basilio Catanoso, an MP from Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-Right Forza Italia party, said “it provokes anger, disgust and sadness to see the Marina Militare transformed into ‘the navy’”.
Annamaria Testa, an advertising consultant and communications expert, told La Repubblica: “It seems a rather provincial approach. Why use the phrase “be cool”? There are plenty of equivalents in Italian.”
Employing an English slogan to drum up sailors for the Italian navy was “like putting ketchup on macaroni,” she said.
There were also critical comments on the Italian navy’s website, with one person wondering whether the adoption of English amounted to “war reparations” for Italian attacks on Royal Navy ships during the Second World War. “How can we be proud of our country if we don’t even use our own language?”
On the navy’s Facebook page, another indignant Italian wrote: “Are we now an American colony?”
But a spokesman for the navy said the campaign was intended to show the service as “modern, dynamic and international” and would appeal to an increasingly connected, internet-savvy younger generation.
Roberta Pinotti, the defence minister, said the campaign had succeeded in boosting applications to join the navy by 20 per cent since it was launched in January.
There was similar scorn this month when the city of Rome unveiled its new campaign to attract tourists.
Another of the campaign’s poster (Marina Militare/Facebook)
The Eternal City dropped the Italian “Roma Capitale” as its principal branding slogan in favour of the English “Rome and You”.
The adoption of English caused a furore on social media and was criticised by politicians.
Rome also dropped the image of a wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, one of the best known symbols of the capital.
In an online survey conducted by Ansa, Italy’s national press agency, 95 per cent of people said they did not like the new slogan.
Ignazio Marino, the city’s mayor, said: “It’s the recognition of the fact that for 3,000 years Rome has been known as ‘Caput mundi’ [capital of the world]. Rome is Rome and it doesn’t need any other adjectives or nouns.”
The mayor’s Facebook page attracted plenty of critical comments. “Enough with turning everything into English,” said one Roman, identified as Marco.
Another local, Giorgio, wrote: “If we are talking about communicating Italian excellence, would it not be better to use Italian?”
A columnist for Corriere della Sera accused the city council of giving into “Anglo-Saxon linguistic hegemony.