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This is nothing except an interesting point between North and South pronunciation "One of the most well-known examples is the difference in thepronunciation of the letter s when it occurs between two vowels. Inthe North, it is usually pronounced /z/, while in the southern-central regions it is pronounced /s/." http://www.thepolyglotdream.com/italy-languages-dialects-accents/
I had an italian explain it to me: You usually salute buona sera/buon giorno when you arrive, and buona serata, buona giornata when you go. The meaning of the first being the wish for a "whole" good day or evening and the meaning of the later being "buon (proseguimento di) giornata", o "buon (proseguimento di) giornata", that is have a good what is left of the day or of the evening.
In my opinion, it is: both "good night" and "buona notte" tend to imply that you're going to sleep.
The problem is that while that's automatic in Italian, there is a rare and probably outdated usage of "good night" as a greeting: "a conventional expression of farewell, or, rarely, of greeting, used in the late afternoon, the evening, or at night, esp when departing to bed" (quote from the Collins dictionary).
According to this definition "good night" could be synonymous with "good evening"; however, I've never heard it used this way, and I'd really like to hear a few native speakers confirm it before adding it as a possible translation.
good evening = buonasera
good afternoon = buon pomeriggio
- buongiorno (from 5.00am to 5.00pm)
- buon pomeriggio (it is said around noon to wish a good afternoon)
- buonasera (from 5.00pm to midnight and beyond)
- buonanotte (You say "buonanotte" if you or someone else goes to bed)
- (formally) "buongiorno" and "buonasera" cover all day
- (informally) "ciao" covers all day
You can use buongiorno, buonasera, ciao when you arrive and when you leave.
You can use buon pomeriggio, buonanotte when you or someone else leaves
That's worth knowing. I was especially interested to learn that you can say "Buon pomeriggio" at midday to wish someone a good afternoon.
A word of warning on "Ciao", which you rightly say is informal. I've heard that foreign visitors to Italy risk causing offence by using "Ciao" and so being over-familiar.
You are probably too advanced to need this now, Moina, but someone might want to know. As I understand it, in the evening on meeting someone you greet them by saying "Buonasera". I think you would say "Buona serata" rather than "Buonasera" on parting from them, but Pierugolfoz tells us it is acceptable to say "Buonasera" on parting.
At any time of the day or evening you can greet people with "Salve" (which is both formal and informal) and take your leave with "ArrivederLa" (which is formal) or "Arrivederci" (used to friends, family, etc.).
(For "Buona serata" see thread started by flukeskywalker.)
Best American English translation: Good evening. Both "buonasera" and "good evening" are used as greetings, i.e. when you are meeting someone. The English "good night" is usually as you're departing or preparing to sleep. Granted, there's no exact boundary between afternoon and evening.
This is an old post but in case anyone's interested, the question of how to pronounce u followed by another vowel depends on whether they are forming one syllable or two. If they are forming one syllable the u has to be pronounced as a w. For example, in the word for "man", "uomo", the u is a w, but "l'uomo" is lu-omo.
Sometimes the voice is very difficult to understand. But second time round (and third, and fourth!) I get it.