False friends: Agenda

Attenzione a questa parola: agenda. Per un inglese non è il diario, bensì “l’ordine del giorno”. Per esempio: “the agenda for the meeting” è ciò di cui si discuterà durante la riunione. Agenda può anche significare “un secondo fine”. E agenda come si dice? Diary…

Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

The word agenda in English is almost (1) a false friend for Italians because in English there are two separate words: there’s your diary, which is basically where you write your daily memoirs, but it’s also where you write your appointments. For example, in the old days, before digital technology, every year you would have an appointments diary in which you wrote down all the events of the year, which is what the Italians called… call an agenda. However, we use the word diary both for personal memoirs and for appointments during the course of the year. We do use the word agenda, but this is not… this does not refer to specific days, it refers to, for example, a meeting (2). If there’s a meeting among people you have an agenda, which is basically what the Italians call l’ordine del giorno, it’s the… the things that you need to talk about during the meeting, and you tick them off one by one (3), as you go through the meeting. So that’s the difference between diary and agenda. However, the word agenda has produced another phrase which is quite interesting, and that is “hidden agenda (4).” And basically that means an ulterior motive. For example, if I ask you to do something and it seems that the reason for doing it is one thing, but in actual fact it’s another one, we talk about “a hidden agenda.” And we talk… in politics particularly we talk about hidden agendas operated by politicians and by governments. And there was in fact a film called Hidden Agenda in 1990 directed by Ken Loach about sinister government activity in Northern Ireland during the time of The Troubles.


1    almost: quasi
2    meeting: riunione
3    you tick them off one by one: li spunti via (li cancelli) uno per uno
4    hidden agenda: piano nascosto, secondo fine

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