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!