Monday, May 17, 2010

Five More Words (and a surprise inside!)

Last time, I played along with the Five Favorite Italian Words meme.  Well today I'm twisting it around to list my Five Least Favorite Italian Words.  Despite the beauty of the language and its musical qualities, there are a few words I dread to hear.

Zanzara  (zahn-ZAH-rah).  Mosquito.
Le odio perche' mi amano.  I hate them because they love me.  Mosquitoes looove me and will travel great distances to find me.  I'm allergic to the bites, so this word sounds like the buzzing that will cover me with enormous, hard, intensely-itchy welts.  For me, zanzara means miseria.

Sciopero (SHOW-pay-roh).  Strike.
It strikes fear (pun intended) in everyone's heart to hear sciopero because it means every man, woman and child, in one way or another, will be affected.  Be it bus drivers, airport traffic controllers, cabbies, rail employees, or pasta manufacturers, a strike in Italy is a right royal pain in the rear.  They often seem to be 'mysteriously' scheduled for Fridays and Mondays to form a weekend ponte.  While they're kind enough to announce them in advance, the sciopero is a fairly frequent inconvenience.

Chiuso (CUE-zoh).  Closed.
This is an equal-opportunity dread word and one that locals and tourists alike will encounter.  We've found government offices shuttered despite a plaque listing the opening hours, restaurants chiuso because they felt like the day off, and even the Museo Borghese closed despite our advance reservations.  If you travel to Italy in July or August be prepared to see this word plastered outside a wide array of establishments as they are chiuso per ferie (closed for vacation).

Correre.  (CORE-rare-ray).  To run.
Okay, this is not a negative word or an insult, it's just incredibly difficult for me to say no matter how hard I try.  I can't get my tongue to twirl those r's properly and they end up thudding against my teeth and spilling off my lips like unattractive dribble.  I will walk around the proverbial linguistic block to avoid using this word, finding some other way to express the notion when need be.

Stranieri.  (Stran-YAY-ree).  Foreigners.
I hear this a lot because, well, I am one.  While I can't help being a foreigner, I don't like feeling like a stranger, which is what this word sounds like.  When I hear someone say, 'sono stranieri' it makes me feel like that they're saying, 'they're weirdos'.  Which they aren't.  Or at least I don't think they are.

Now it's your turn!  I'm departing for Italy tomorrow, so I'm going to leave you to 'talk amongst yerselves' here with your favorite (and least favorite) parole.  It's fun for everyone to learn new words, and I always enjoy hearing which ones tickle your fancy or make you cringe.  Plus, I'll have a random drawing to give an Italian sweet treat to a lucky commenter, so keep the (linguistic) ball rolling!
A presto!


LindyLouMac said...

An interesting twist on the meme I played along with recently.

I suppose I will have to get thinking again now, especially as you have used some of the best ones that I also dread hearing!

marybeth said...

Ciao bella, e buon viaggio! Can't wait to hear what awaits you in bel paese.

My most favorite Italian word is sbaciucchio, which means to smother with kisses, or kiss all over someone.....sbacio is the short version. Often used with kids, but also among lovers....perché non?

Only in Italy!

marybeth said...

On another note, do you know there's a website to consult for upcoming scioperi in Italia? That's right! A calendar for strikes!

Here's the link:

marybeth said...

an addendum to my note:

sbaciucchiare is the verb form, so
sbaciucchio translates to "I smother you with kisses."

(I think I'm done now.)

Debbie D said...

Gosh, there are so many fun words in Italian! I am learning it as I do the dreadful commute to and from work each day (1 hr by car). So my spelling is not the best as I can only hear the words and not see them. One of them is the number 88--otantoto? Sorry if I spelled it incorrectly. Then there is the word here, they are here, etc. Eccole, eccola, eccochi. Sorry again if they are misspelled. I love the way they roll off the tongue. Another number I love to pronounce is cinquantacinque (55). I laugh when I think of the song, I can't drive 55. It is a little more difficult to sing if you are saying I can't drive cinquantacinque!

J.Doe said...

After hearing of your difficulties pronouncing 'correre' (me too) It made me think of my least favorite italian words those with double consonants like 'Penne' (the pasta).
I don't know how many times I've said penne to my in-laws (meaning the pasta) when my husband tells me I actually said peNe with only a single consonant sound which as you know means quite a different thing than a pasta shape.

Vicky said...

OK I'll bite, since I won the last contest! I like "chiacchierare" (to chat, gossip), even though it borders on being difficult to say with those r's so close to each other. Plus it's onomatopoeic. There! Do I get points for that too? I also like sbagliato. Buon viaggio, Valerie! Ci vediamo dopo!

lakeviewer said...

The words bring up lots of situations to hate. Great meme.

Debbie D. said...

Another favorite word? Nutella!

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Anonymous said...

Another expression frequently heard on tv, especially after arresting a murderer or mafia boss is: "È un'uomo per bene" (He is a good person!)
I hate this expression, because I cannot wrap my head around the fact that they simply can't say, that this person was a sicko and they did not notice.

Another word that always produces knots in my tongue is "associazione", causing me more frequently to say 'accioziassione'. Dunno why.

A word I really love is "cucciolo" (puppy). It sounds as cute as those little puppies can be.

Torres#9 said...

Please feel free to chat more about all things Italian @
much apprectiated!

Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors said...

I like calpestare.. it means to walk on, to stamp or trample... Your blog is great, I'm still reading!

Nellie said...

I dislike the word Pronto when answering the phone in Italy, ....what else is one going to do when on the phone Pronto you picked it up and are ready to speak.
the other is a phrase settimana prossoma or lano scorso.
I always get tonque tied when attempting to incorperate them into a sentence. Also I am the only Sicilian who cannot roll her R'S, go figure.

Miss Footloose said...

Great to hear you are in Italy again!