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Chiara's blog

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Lezioni di italiano 1 - funny idioms



Hello, my lovely HPFTers! :wub:

How are you all doing? Hope everyone's well! :hug:

So... I'm not sure if this will be interesting for anyone, but I've been thinking of making a few blog posts about the Italian language for some time. I've had a lot of ideas, but I never really got around with it because I wasn't sure where to start and if it would even be interesting for anyone at all... but this morning I happened across a couple of articles online (here are the links: 1 and 2 - rated M to be safe) about Italian idioms that make no sense out of Italy and I thought that might be a nice place to start from! :P  (I believe there was a similar discussion on Twitter ages ago and @merlins beard shared a few fun German idioms?)

Anyway, here's a little selection of the ones that are funniest in my opinion! I hope you'll enjoy! :D 

When you have to say good luck...

Don't ever, EVER, say "Buona fortuna" (which is the literal translation of "Good luck") because that clearly will have the opposite effect (and Italians are very, VERY superstitious...) What you say instead is "In bocca al lupo" (In the wolf's mouth), to which the other person replies "Crepi" (May it die). I believe the idea behind that is that you are getting out unscathed from a dangerous situation? It's still not a very nice idiom if you look at it from an animal rights' POV, which is why the reply has got a bit lost recently. There is a less macabre (but also a bit more foul-mouthed) version, though, which is "In culo alla balena" (In the whale's ass), and the reply is "Speriamo che non caghi" (Let's hope it doesn't shit) :P 

If you want to say that someone is crazy/out of their mind...

This one is by far my favourite! :D One expression we use to express that someone is completely nutters is "è fuori come un balcone" (they are outside like a balcony) :P 

When you want to tell someone to get lost/piss off/go to hell/etc

Of course there are many, more or less coloured, ways to express this concept, but a couple that are very specifically Italian (reflecting Italian religiousness and campanilism, I guess?) are the following: "Vai a farti benedire" (Go get blessed) and "Vai a quel paese" (Go to that town). A colleague of mine has recently invented a new, quarantine related, version: "Vai a fare la spesa" (Go grocery shopping) :roflol:

Of a very lively child...

or more generally of someone who's agitated/fidgety, you'd say that "Ha l'argento vivo addosso" (they have quicksilver on themselves)

Viceversa, of someone who's old inside and go to sleep super early...

"Va a letto con le galline" (they go to bed with the chickens) :P 

Of someone who doesn't like to spend money...

"Ha le braccine corte" (they have short arms)

And a last one (there are many others, but I think I've bored you enough already :P)

"Hai voluto la bicicletta? Adesso pedala!" (You wanted the bicycle? Now ride it!) Which is a way to tell someone to deal with the consequences of their actions/choices and not to complain about them because it's their own fault.

I hope you enjoyed this! Please, let me know if you'd be interested in any more blogs about Italy/Italian language and if there are specific themes you'd like to hear about. Also, if you would like to share some fun idioms in your native language, please do! I'd love to read them! ;) 

Love you all!

:freeze: :grouphug:


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Posted (edited)

I am ALWAYS here for learning about idioms in other languages!!! If you have others I am all ears! The English version for the last idiom about the bicycle is "you made your bed, now lie in it". Your good luck idioms are amazing, haha, I cackled at "let's hope it doesn't shit".

In Hebrew the literal phrase "good luck" (mazal tov) is actually used when you're congratulating someone, so obviously you need something different to say when you're wishing them luck, so instead you say "in success" (b'chatzlacha). The only other Hebrew idiom I can think of at the moment is if you are explaining something very quickly/in brief, it's "on one foot" (al regel achat), which comes from a story in the Talmud where someone asks the rabbis to explain the whole Torah while he is standing on one foot. Oh! And when you're paying attention to someone, you're "sam lev" -- placing your heart. So sometimes my teacher will command us to place our hearts (simu lev) because what she's about to say is important.

Edited by facingthenorthwind
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I LOVED this, Chiara! I am always eager to learn more idioms! Thank you for sharing. 💛

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I am very late but this was so fun to read and not in the least boring! And it definitely inspires me to dig out the italian textbook!!

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