A neologism is a new term or phrase recently introduced into a language. The most obvious ones today are those related to technology; as the world of science expands, words are being born.
Other neologisms are linked to more traditional aspects of culture, such as food, music, dance and the alike: the palatable Boeuf Bourguignon from France, the bold tunes of a Mariachi band from Mexico and the sleek moves of the Tango from Argentina. Neologisms with pizazz.
Take Italian food, for instance, which is widely enjoyed across the globe. Words like spaghetti, ravioli and lasagna—granted, no longer considered very recent neologisms as they were introduced around mid-19th century—are used to describe the respective Italian dishes and forms of pasta. These words in Italian are, in fact, in the plural form. Spaghetti is the plural of spaghetto, ravioli is the plural of raviolo and lasagne is the plural of lasagna.
So when referring to one ravioli (one bit-sized pasta pocket), if we were Italian, we would say raviolo. Let's take another look at the word "lasagna." Lasagna, in Italian, refers to one noodle of this type of pasta; therefore, the proper usage when describing the dish, would be lasagne, in the plural form, because of course, people generally eat more than one "lasagna" noodle.
Most Canadians and Americans use the singular form—lasagna—instead of the plural; however, some have picked up on this discrepancy and have integrated the change on menus, in recipes, and so forth.
I bring up this point because not only do I enjoy examining words that have been adopted from other languages, these expressions, more often than not, are misemployed in the borrowing language.
Can you think of a more recent word appropriated from our italiani friends?
"Yes, I'll have a latte grande with low-fat milk."
This mistake has nothing to do with masculine or feminine, singular or plural, but rather meaning. Perhaps many of you know, but for those who don't, latte (like lait in French and leche in Spanish) means milk. So, instead of asking for a caffè latte like the Italians do, we are in fact just ordering...milk.