That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.


This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rated G Guide to Italian One Liners, Slang and Proverbs

If you have an Italian (rated G) one liner, slang or proverb to add, please leave it in the comment box - Thanks !!

The other day, I had written about the Italian court's decision to deny a couple's wish to name their child Venerdì (Friday) because it was deemed "ridiculous" and instead appointed the, now, two and a half year old with the more respectable Gregorio. *raises eyebrow In the same post, I mentioned the common Italian girl's name, Alice, and how it also happens to be the Italian word for anchovy. Seriously - I'm not kidding. This got me thinking about other words, phrases or proverbs that in Italian sound normal enough, but translated literally into English, can sound rather odd. 

I enlisted the help of family members, students and friends to come up with a small list, a list that would be much much so very much bigger were I to include a few particular words that are used quite often and with many (admittedly) creative variations, but which, nonetheless, are of the profane nature. So, I've left those out. Oh, don't fret you foul, lewd, vulgar person, you - this'll still be fun ^.^

More after the jump ... 
Cavolo: This means Cabbage. While the French use their chou as a term of endearment, the Italian use their cavolo as a milder and less offensive substitute for another word ... a grown up word ... a male appendage word. You get the idea. I won't ask you to keep that in mind, but I share this only so you'll know that Italians are not a nation of crazed crackpots who collectively obsess over leafy green vegetables. No, that would be the Koreans. No ... wrong again. South Korea is actually the 4th largest producer of cabbage and other brassicas - Whaaaa? 4th?! Not even in the top 3?! Shameful. Koreans eat, breathe and sweat KIMCHI !! What a disgrace -- That's enough, Brain. So ... The number one producer is China, then India, followed by Russia. Italy doesn't even make the top ten. Interestingly enough, the modern day cabbage derives from the wild mustard plant which is, itself, native to the Mediterranean. The ancient Romans (and Greeks) adored their cabbage. They wrote poems and love stories about their cabbage - no, actually, I just made that part up. What I'm not  making up is Cato the Elder declaring the cabbage to be the one "that surpasses all other vegetables." It's actually a very multi-vitamin packed vegetable if there ever was one. It has vitamin U. Did you even know there was a vitamin U? Yep ... it's an an agent that helps your body fight against ulcers. Ulcers bad, (raw) cabbage good.

° Che cavolo?! literally means: What (the) cabbage?! The meaning/interpretation is: What the heck?!

° Son cavoli miei. this is actually Roman dialect and it literally means: They are my cabbages. The meaning/interpretation is: It's my affair (it's none of your business).

I'm the only one in the house who enjoys the fine, bitter-burnt taste of brussel sprouts. In Italian they're known as cavoli di Bruxelles. So when I make them, it's a tradition in our house for someone to ask me, "Che fai?" (What are you making?) And I have the pleasure of replying, "Faccio i cavoli miei!" (literally: I'm making my cabbages!! But meaning: That's my business - stay out of it!!)

Basically, you can insert cavolo into most any sentence, just as you would the rated R word. Ok, enough with cabbages. 

° Le ginocchia mi fanno Giacomo Giacomo. (L) My knees are going "James James". (M) wobbly knees, weak in the knees, jelly legs, etc.

° Ti spacco le gengive. (L) I'll split your gums. (M) I'll split your lip, break your teeth, etc.

° Prendere in giro. (L) To take around. (M) To tease, poke fun at, hoodwink, jest, pull one's leg ... but also taunt, ridicule, mock. Example: Non mi prendere in giro. OR Mi stai prendendo in giro? Don't take me around. OR Are you taking me around? Depending on the context, it can be a light "Hey, quit foolin'," or a more serious, "Are you messing with me?!"

° Fico. (L) Fig, as in the fruit. (M) When not actually referring to a real fig, it's used as an adjective (usually by the younger generation) to describe anything cool, awesome, sick, neat-o, hunky dory ^.^

° Attaccati a questo with clear reference to a particular body part. (L) Attach yourself to this. (M) You get the idea.

° Sei pesante. (L) You are heavy. (M) You're all kinds of negative ... suffocating, pessimistic, bothersome, etc. 

° Non rompere le scattole. OR Sei un rompi scattole. (L) Don't break the boxes. OR You're a box breaker. (M) Stop bothering me, upsetting me, provoking me, etc. OR You're a bother, a nuisance, etc.

° Lecca piedi. (L) Foot licker. (M) Butt kisser, suck up. 
Mrs. Boricua often uses the Puerto Rican phrase, "eye licker" -haha-

° Va a quel paese. (L) Go to that country. (M) In it's milder form, depending on context, it can mean, "get outta here," (but usually, only the first part is used, "Ma va!" literally meaning, "But go!") or in it's more vulgar usage, it can mean, "go bleep yourself." Not a nice thing to say, at all.

° Mi nonno. (L) Roman dialect, for, My grandfather. (M) It's a sarcastic reply to questions with obvious replies, when you'd prefer to not give an answer or, simply, to be silly and have fun. Example: Who did you go out with last night? Mi nonno. Where did you get that dress? Mi nonno. Who told you about that?! Mi nonno.

° Piantala. (L) Plant it. (M) Stop it, quit it, that's enough.

° Mannaggia pescetti. (L) The little fish are to blame. OR Curse the little fish. (M) Darn, dang it, d'oh!

° Porca miseria. (L) Pig like misery. (M) Same as above, Darn, dang it, d'oh! This is the milder version of something else ... which entails the ancient city of Troy. Troia, a perfectly respectable word when referring to the proper name is also used for the more tasteless alternative when referring to a woman with prostitute like qualities, whether real or perceived. So, in the more vulgar form, it refers to a pig-like prostitute-like woman, but really it just means, "Oh, darn," only... more so.

° Mannaggia al bacco senza tabacco. (L) Curse the wine god without tobacco. (M) Again, same thing as above, Darn, dang it, d'oh!

° Tira la coda al cane che ti da pane e salame. (L) Pull the dog's tail and it'll give you bread and salami. (M) This is a common response of parents all over Italy when their children lament about being hungry, unable to wait for their next meal, etc.

° Sei un broccolo. (L) You are a broccoli. (M) You're stupid, daft, etc.

° Sei un secchione. (L) You are a garbage dumpster. (M) You're a nerd, geek, very good in school, but with no social life.

I'll add more as I remember/learn them ^.^
If anyone has any to add, please leave it in the comment box, but do refrain from vulgarity -Thanks !!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

imbocca lupo when to wish someone good luck

Sam said...

Hey great blog.
What does it mean when someone says ke kulo or says you have a kulo?
They just laugh and so I do too but I never can be sure
What do they mean???
TIA Sam, byt the way I'm a girl!

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? If so it means either you're a very lucky girl or you have a great backside.It's probally the latter, Italian men really appreciate a good backside haha.

Mrs. Moglie said...

Hi and thanks for the comments ^.^

In bocca al lupo (L) Into the wolf's mouth (M)Good luck, break a leg, all the best, etc.
Usually, after the well wisher has said this phrase, the receiver will respond with, "Crepi," which literally means, May the wolf die (M) Thanks ^.^

Sam the girl :) Hi - I'm guessing by the way you spelled the phrase with a "K" rather than "C", you might have come across this in some written form, like Facebook or Chat --- ?? At any rate, it's as Anonymous number 2 says, it can mean, "you're so lucky" or it can be the actual literal sense, which is, "What a butt" ... wait, that sounds off. It refers to a nice butt, only the word for butt is "sedere" whereas c*l* is equivalent to a$$ ^.^ hope that helps - ciao !!

Sam the girl said...

Thanks. yea it was on faceboook and then in the real world but about some pics on facebook. I feel stupid knowing I laughed about it though I should've said grazie lol:)

jojofromvictoria said...

This one is for everyone who has a mother-in-law that is not the nicest:
"La vipera che morsico mia suocera mori avvelenata." Here in Calabria there are even ashtrays sold with this saying. LOL. I suppose there must be a lot of poisonous mother-in-laws down south!

Mrs. Moglie said...

I'd not heard that one before !! Wow - I'm thankful to have had a really great mother-in-law ^.^ So, basically, that would translate to: The viper that bites my mother-in-law dies poisoned. -lol-