"His words were like those of an angel."
Translation:Le sue parole erano come quelle di un angelo.
In English the word angel has the secular meanings of a very good person (usually female) or of a beautiful, sweet, young, often very desirable woman. Does the word angelo, being masculine, have only a more purely religious or “good” image? Can it refer to a woman? What would be the Italian equivalent of the English sweet girl?
Thanks. It will take some getting used to referring to a woman using the masculine. But on the other hand that is also the case with some Italian professions which were traditionally male only. Was the job of being an angel once dominated by men as well? Or can you give me a less facetious explanation of the word's history?
A common mistake that English speakers make is that gender=sex. That's true in English only because it lost most of its genders, but not in most other languages: in Italian a "guardia" or a "persona" are feminine and yet often male. Mark Twain famously complained that in German a young lady (Mädchen) is neuter. While it's true that females are mostly referred to with feminine nouns, there's plenty of masculine words that can refer to them, and not because they used to be for men or anything: it's just how the language is.
Speaking of angelo, masculine is merely the grammatical gender of the word.
Although angels have always been depicted with a male body (a female angel would have been considered unorthodox), a common idiom used when discussing something that cannot reach a definite conclusion, e.g. what came first, the chicken or the egg, is "to debate (about) angels' sex" (discutere del/sul sesso degli angeli), which is traditionally held to be undefined.
As always, thanks for the explanation, but also thanks for adding to my collection of idioms!