https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MABBY

Ten words that only exist in Italian

A neat article that describes events or situations, even people, by using a single word.
In English, there is no one-word translation/ synonym, or even a word that is needed, to describe these:

https://www.thelocal.it/20180509/ten-untranslatable-words-that-only-exist-in-italian

September 11, 2018

29 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

A few comments about some of the words.

  • Culaccino
    This word is more often used for describing the end part of any type of food that has an elongated shape (e.g. a cucumber, a sausage, a stick of French bread, etc.).
    A very common, informal variant is culetto.
    I have barely ever heard culaccino used with the other meaning, but dictionaries do include it; its frequency of use may likely differ from region to region.

  • Baffona
    The picture in the page shows a girl with a cappuccino froth moustache; but calling baffona a woman with a hairy upper lip can be very derogatory, so mind the use of this word.
    Baffona is the feminine augmentative of baffo ("moustache"); its masculine version baffone is a common and playful nickname for anyone who wears a big moustache.

  • Sprezzatura
    The word sprang in the 16th century, to describe the attitude that a perfect courtier should maintain, a mixture of self control, balance, grace, absence of bias. It was then used for describing also a music style, based on the same features.
    You'll never hear this word in everyday's conversation, though, as its meaning is obscure to the majority of average native speakers.

  • Apericena
    This very recent word has been in common use for no more than a few years, and it is spoken mainly by young people.
    However, many speakers (including me) find it very annoying, also because after this word came into use, creating new 'aperi-something' combinations became trendy, and the long list of freaks now includes goosebump-raising words such as aperipranzo (an aperitif before lunch), aperipizza, aperivegan (with vegan snacks), aperimostra (an aperitif before visiting an exhibition), and so on.
    There is a popular Facebook group called (more or less) "Words and manners that irk like hell", and some time ago someone wrote: "APERICENA" has won with full and undisputed merit the contest of whatever is most irksome in the world. But what should we say about the horrifying contraction "APE"? [urban slang for aperitivo]
    To which someone else replied: A bee swarm should strike who speaks it. :-D

  • Meriggiare
    This is a strictly literary verb, which sounds rather lyrical. It is seldom found in early 1900s poetry, but it is never used in ordinary conversation. So you'll never hear anyone ask: Dove andiamo a meriggiare? :-)

  • Magari
    This is a real multi-purpose word that frequently pops up in everyday's conversation, taking several shades of meaning.
    It would be too long to discuss the word in this post, but I'll add magari to my list of future topics.

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MT.italy

I'll add magari to my list of future topics.

Eh, magari!

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

:-D

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GaetanoPis4

Magari quando ha tempo!

September 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pietro.F

Grazie come sempre Civis, e so che non spetta a me decidere cosa dovresti scrivere, ma attendo con impazienza il tuo articolo sull'uso di magari :D

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lynnich

Civis, wonderful explanations! I would like a refresher on the difference between "magari" and "forse" When I was in Italy my friends tried to explain it to me and I sort of got it - something to do with magari meaning perhaps...It became a bit like when I was trying to explain the difference between "lend" and "give" in English which involved me pretending to blow my nose on a tissue that I had asked my friend to "lend" to me, instead of asking her to "give" it to me. That helped as she definitely didn't want it back!

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

Forse translates literally as "perhaps", or "maybe":

  • Forse domani pioverà. = Perhaps tomorrow it will rain.

  • Forse mi sono sbagliato. = Maybe I was wrong.

Forse infers a probability of (very roughly) 50% that what is said will actually happen (or has happened).
For more likely events, other expressions are used (see https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/26139421).

Magari is much more complicated because of its several shades of meaning, but I'll soon post a tutorial for the use of this word.

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lynnich

Grazie, sei una stella! (Can I say that?)

September 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lor-el

It is grammatically correct, but it doesn't hold the same meaning as the english "you're a star!". :) ...you could say something along the lines of "Sei grande!" or "sei un mito!" (the latter is very 1990s though ahah)

September 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

Thanks to Lynnich for the appreciation and to Lor-el for the very clear explanation. :-D

September 15, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jingirasole

Thanks for the info. Come si chiama quello gruppo in italiano? Mi piacerebbe guardarlo!

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

Si chiama "Parole e modi che irritano di bruttone! (IDB)"

Two caveats:

(1) You'll see "IDB" extensively used in the group for irritare di bruttone (variously conjugated, according to the sentence). In informal language or slang only di brutto (adverb, "very badly", "like hell") is commonly used, di bruttone is an arbitrary augmentative, which is though easily understood by any native speaker.
IDB is used self-ironically, as many members are in fact annoyed by the extensive use of unnecessary abbreviations, often obscure to the average reader.

(2) Make sure that foul language is not an issue to you, because several members of the group have very little scruples in using it.

September 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GermaineLee

Ciao Civis Romanus, sono un vero fan di te e leggo tutte le tue informazioni - ovunque lo trovo. Non vedo l'ora di tutti i tuoi argomenti. Mille grazie :))

October 3, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KevanSF

I translate from Italian to English and have noticed we in English don't really have a set, reliable way to wish someone a "buon x" the way Italians do.

To illustrate:

Buon appetito: "Enjoy your meal" sounds a bit odd or flat, so we English speakers are more likely to resort to French and say "bon appétit."

Buon viaggio: Same thing. "Have a nice trip" seems like the best English possibility, but again, many would turn to French and say "Bon voyage!"

I often translate e-mails that the Italian writer has begun with "Buongiorno," and I still hesitate. "Good morning" sounds like a weird way to start an email in the US, especially since there's a good chance it was written or will be read in the afternoon or later. "Good day," is equally odd. I usually go with something natural in English such as: "Hello," "Hi," "Hi everyone," or "Greetings," depending on the tone of the email.

Another one is "buon lavoro." English "good job" is very different, something you say after the fact. To wish someone a good or enjoyable time at work isn't exactly a phrase we have, and unfortunately, this time, we haven't adopted a French phrase to fill the gap!

We might say "Keep up the good work!" or "Don't work too hard!" which are in the ballpark, but not really the same. Maybe "Have a nice day at work!" (ugh).

It's always interesting to me how each language has its own way to say certain things and often these ways don't neatly overlap with how other languages express those concepts.

September 13, 2018

[deactivated user]

    Grazie, this is the kind of neat language stuff I love.

    September 12, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arixandrian

    Menefreghista sort of exists in Greek too, it's pronounced "starhidistis" but its literal translation here would be "someone who writes everything on his testicles", which is our way to say that they don't give a damn :P

    Interestingly enough, we have "makari!" which means the same as magari, so probably a common ancestry thing there.

    What a great post!

    September 12, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

    Magari actually sprang from ancient Greek makários ("happy"), and its main meaning is more or less "I would be happy (if whatever is mentioned in the sentence happened)".
    I'll soon post a much more detailed explanation, with examples.

    September 13, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Giovanna-Louise

    @Civis Romanus

    Civis, as mentioned in the post below, by @Lica98, -and I thought of that too, yes the word menefreghista has a direct equivalent in Russian .. as @Lica98 correctly pointed out these are words "pofigist", I would translate it as = "the one who does not give a damn" ( in Rus., "пофигист" = "тот, кому всё по фигу") and also a related "po****st"(a swear word)( that I will not be translating..:-)) , both very widely used in Russian everyday speech..

    As for "magari" in Italian , and "makari" in Greek, i realized just now that i do know one very close equivalent...in modern Hebrew (I studied Hebrew in the past and had opportunity to practice it in Israel)) there is a unique word "Halewaii" ( or 'Alewayi ), in Hebrew letters, if I am correct, it is spelled like הלווי which also has wide variety of hues of meaning.. this one word has a meaning of " I wish /i'd be happy if that would come true", "lets hope/that /may it come true"..and so on..)

    September 13, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

    Thank you for this very interesting addition!

    September 13, 2018

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Giovanna-Louise

    you are most welcome..:-))

    September 14, 2018

    [deactivated user]

      That's cool!

      September 12, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RhettButtlord

      butler909 i have been looking for you. that angry balding guy in the esperanto forums thought i was you and filed a complaint, you should go clear it up

      September 14, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LICA98

      Menefreghista also exists in Russian if understood the definition correctly... in Russian it's пофигист or по*уист (swear word)

      September 12, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Giovanna-Louise

      absolutely correct!! I speak Russian fluently and know these two words very well:-)

      September 13, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hezekiah_21

      interesting

      September 14, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nadine22905

      Now I want everyone I know to learn Italian so that I can use these words. Precise language is wonderful! It happens more to me though that people misunderstand me because they don't know what words truly mean.

      September 13, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GetInThisT

      very Interesting

      September 16, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cloacafart

      apericena is just pregaming haha

      September 13, 2018

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hezekiah_21

      cos i am learning italian and it is very likely that i will use one of those words. it might say something different on my profile but i am actually learning italian

      September 14, 2018
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