There is a school of thought, to which I do not personally subscribe, which says that the world would be an altogether more agreeable place if there were fewer languages. This anti-Babelist tendency will be heartened to hear of a new scheme being introduced by the enterprising Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, whose ultimate goal is to reduce the entire language to the two words “Forza Italia”. A sample sentence in Berlusconite Italian would run: “Forza Italia! Forza forza Italia, forza Italia e forza Italia. Forza Italia. Forza Italia!” This translates loosely as: “Good morning! Two loaves of bread, a pint of milk and 50 Woodbines. Thank you very much. Good morning!” Work is ongoing to find a suitable substitute for the word “e”, meaning “and”. I am told that the trick lies entirely in the intonation and the gestures which accompany the words, which perhaps makes Italian, out of all the languages, ideally suited to this project. In trials, seven out of ten “shoppers” in the above scenario succeeded in obtaining all the items correctly, though two were given orange juice in place of milk and one unfortunate man ended up with a giant child’s paddling pool for his Woodbines. This caused the individual concerned to fly into a rage, screaming: “Forza Italia! Forza forza Italia? Forza! Italia forza!” He was led away by police and later given a substantial fine for uttering the phrase “Italia forza”, which is the gravest possible insult in Berlusconite Italian.

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