In the Italian role-playing community, how we use the English loan homebrew, to indicate amateur products? Here is a linguistic study!

Ours are back linguistic insights on RPG jargon (and nerdy stuff in general)!
Over the past year we had dealt with several words: master feminine, hack it / it, il / la retcon e the quickstart (er).
Generally, these insights address the genre that English loans acquire when used in Italian. In fact, the English borrowings recently introduced in our language tend to have a grammatical gender that oscillates between masculine and feminine. Only with time will gender stabilize in masculine or feminine, based on the version most used by speakers.

Instead, today we will talk about an English loan that is not only interesting for the swing between masculine and feminine, but also for its other strange characteristics.
We are talking about the term homebrew! Let's see what its original meaning is and how it is used by our community.

References to making beer at home are not accidental!
References to making beer at home are not accidental!

What is the original meaning of homebrew?

Generally written home brew, in English this term is a name and indicates mostly beers (or other drinks) that are brewed at home.
More specifically, home brew it's a name compound endocentric, that is, in which a main element can be identified, called forehead. In this case, the head is brew (prepare/ferment), which has a relationship of determination with the constituent home (casa). In fact, from a syntactic point of view, brew holds home, more or less equivalent to the phrase "brew (ed) at home".
From a morphosyntactic point of view, home brew follows the classic formation of English compounds, ie with the head to the right. In contrast, Italian compounds generally have their heads on the left (conductor, swordfish, red indians).

Over time, home brew began to be used also in the field of information technology to indicate amateur and free versions of video games or programs. Around the same time, this term also began to be used for indicate things or changes made on an amateur level
In the wake of this semi-slang usage, home brew has also begun to indicate all the materials dedicated to roleplaying created by fans in an amateur way. In particular, this term is used extensively in relation to D&D. We therefore have classes, races, talents, spells, settings and adventures homebrew. In this sense, there is also a site, The Homebrewery, where you can lay out your own creations homebrew.

A fearsome cheese elemental, from the homebrew adventure RPG Accessories: Thanksgiving Feast
A fearsome cheese elemental, from the homebrew adventure RPG Accessories: Thanksgiving Feast

Homebrew in Italian: how is it used?

Homebrew, in its unworded form homebrew, is now widespread also in the Italian role-playing community.
But how is this word used?
We have done a little research on the use of this term in various Facebook groups dedicated to RPG. In particular, we have plumbed Powered By The Apocalypse - Italy, I play role, Role-playing games - The RPG in Italy, Dungeons & Dragons ® 5th Edition Italy e Pathfinder GdR Italy. So let's see how we Italian players and role players use homebrew.
In total, this term was found 376 times higher.
Of these, 58% are a adjective, 37% is a name, and 5% is the English adjective homebrewed.

In addition, two small ones were also made specific polls on the group The Shipwrecked of Atlantis and I role play, in which we asked users to indicate whether they use the masculine or the feminine.
On the group of Shipwrecked, out of 43 total votes, 40% said not to use homebrew, while 28% use it for women. The male did not have any votes, while Harambrew it even rose to 25%.
About the group I play role, out of 76 total votes, 68% use the feminine, 27% alternate the two genders and 5% use the masculine.
In general, the survey data coincides with what we found from the field survey. Let's see it better below!

An English name that becomes an Italian adjective

As we said, in English homebrew it's a name. In Italian, however, it is mostly used as adjective.
In fact, the 58% of the times (219 occurrences) in which it appears, this term is used as an adjective. Usually, it features female names such as campaign, rule, class, or genericisms such as thing/roba.

I was thinking of a homebrew / homemade rule to compensate for the gap between 2-handed weapons and fight with 2 weapons ...
An opinion regarding this magical homebrew item.
I was trying to create a summoner without using homebrew stuff
Do you like homebrew campaigns or pre-made adventures more?

A graph on the distribution of data. The green slice of the graph on the left are homebrews used as names
A graph on the distribution of data. The green slice of the graph on the left is the homebrew used as names
A name that still oscillates between masculine and feminine

In 37% of cases where it is actually used (135 total) as a name, homebrew it fluctuates a lot between masculine and feminine.
Indeed, in most cases (50%), this term is used without an article or adjectives related to it, and therefore it is not possible to understand its genre, as seen below:

(4 and a half years at least, 300% homebrew)
I've been in the mood for tweaks, fixes and homebrews lately.
HOMEBREW for you!
Homebrew all life, both as a player and as a master
Pure world building and plenty of homebrew

In 34% of cases, however, this term is used al female, as seen in the examples below. In fact, this term is probably mostly associated with words like rules e campaign, and therefore their grammatical gender will also have been associated with them. A user from the group I play role, for example, writes: "Usually I always accompany the word from another noun, if I only use the article I refer to the noun that I omit!".

Personally even with my homebrew for a paladin I would choose the broadsword
What are the fixes but my homebrews?
I do the dm in a homebrew
There is also a D&D 5e Homebrew Italy group where you can ask about homebrews
If you want to implement a homebrew it is essential to look for something similar in the game

Finally, only in 16% of cases this term is used al male.

A friend of mine and I produced a file in both Italian and English on a Ranger Homebrew
This Homebrew adds various things to the class
What do you think of homebrews?
or a contemporary or sci-fi homebrew.

The English adjective homebrewed

Finally, the English loan also runs in our community homebrewed, which is instead an adjective. This English adjective appears 22 times, that is in 5% of cases.
Usually, homebrewed looks like adjective of another Italian term, thus being used with its original function.
In some isolated cases, however, this loan is used as a name, thus undergoing the reverse process with respect to its nominal consideration.

I would expect to recommend unofficial homebrewed things
but in this edition homebrewed is very easy.
especially for homebrewed settings
This is clearly another matter for a homebrewed campaign
Tonight I'm leaving with a 100% homebrewed scenario from D&D 5ed

The fearsome undead squalorso, obviously a homebrew creation
The fearsome undead squalorso, obviously a creation homebrew


Homebrew is a particularly common English loan in our community's online talks.
We see it mainly used in contexts dedicated to d20systems, such as in D&D o Pathfinder. However, this term also appears in relation to other systems, to refer generically to all amateur products.

What happens from a morphosyntactic point of view?

From a linguistic point of view, this loan makes a particular parable. In fact, passing from English to Italian, from noun becomes an adjective. It is a known process derivation, also common in Italian and which can cause the new term to change lexical category. Generally, however, in Italian the derivation occurs when a suffix is ​​added to a word: da nerve you switch to nervous, from Sun you switch to solar.
After becoming an adjective, homebrew in Italian it can go around again and go back to being a noun or, more precisely, a nominalized adjective. In this case, it tends to take the feminine gender since it is implicitly associated with the terms it is most commonly associated with as an adjective, i.e. rule e campaign.

Instead, the adjective homebrewed, always borrowed from English, can do the reverse and therefore from adjective is used as a noun. This process, in linguistics, is called nominalization and it is also common in the case of Italian words: for example, da nice you switch to beauty, from to demonstrate you switch to dimostrazione, and so on.

Why can't we find the verb “homebreware”? Some hypotheses

In short, homebrew e homebrewed in Italian they undergo two fairly common processes in our language.
However, in them these processes are less evident because, like all English loans, they tend not to absorb ours suffixes adjective and nominal derivatives. At most, English loanwords fit the Italian suffix -are when used as verbs. It is indeed from build we have buildare, for example.
But in the case of homebrew, you never see this term in the form of a verb, such as “I homebrewo”, “I have homebrewed this campaign”. Probably, this word lends itself little to the formation of a verb because it would be difficult to pronounce it.
Indeed, in English brew e brewed they are both pronounced / bruː /, then with a u long ending, and not with sound w di what. Needless to say, both with sound u than with that w, the ending of a verb like homebrewer it would be quite tiring to pronounce.