The French are renowned for their zero tolerance towards borrowing words from other languages. Previously I have regarded this as an extremist position but I am beginning to think they have a point. Italians are not so up tight on this issue and the consequences are plain for all to see.
Many schools have ‘Open Days’ , numerous companies adopt tiresome variations of Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ slogan and my local gym is peppered with motivational missives like ‘Never Give Up’ and ‘Impossible Is Nothing.
Using such phrases is presumably intended to show that corporate Italy takes an all-encompassing Anglo-American attitude to business, education and leisure pursuits.
Near where I live, the successful Technogym gym equipment company calls itself ‘The Wellness Company’™. Their ‘Technogym Village’ is a poncey name for their spanking new HQ which opened in 2013 and is located in what founder Nerio Alessandri has recently named ‘Wellness Valley’. His stated aim is to single-handedly create a sporty equivalent of Silicon Valley in the heart of Emilia-Romagna.
The word ‘wellness’ is one I find irritating. It will garner 118,000,000 results on Google compared to 2,530.000.000 for well-being. These two terms are both defined as the state of being healthy and happy although well-being is more commonly used in English. Some would argue that ‘wellness’ is a perfectly acceptable word for Alessandri to choose – if we can say ‘happiness’, ‘healthiness’ and ‘fitness’, why not ‘wellness’ My dislike derives from the fact that this choice plainly has its roots in marketing strategy rather than a quest for linguistic accuracy.
At the end of this month (26th January 2014 to be precise) is an event that has the mitts of Technogym’s image conscious ‘Wellness Foundation’ consultants all over it. On this day, a Sunday, gyms and health centres will throw open their doors to offer free courses and demonstrations of the facilities they offer. These will be linked to other promotional activities designed to encourage citizens to exercise on a more regular basis.
The aims are laudable but all of this comes under the clunky name of Cesena Moving Day which frankly would sound much better in the equivalent Italian : Cesena in Movimento. There is, to my mind, no good reason to adopt an English name for this local initiative especially as it makes it sound as if the town itself was moving rather than its habitants!
The French wouldn’t stand for it and neither should the Italians.