My Five Favorite Italian Words
When I was growing up I had a very funny uncle. He had a quip and a come-back for everything. We enjoyed long-running jokes that lasted for decades. He had a famous line that he would deadpan if we tripped over words or jumbled up our sentences: "We give talking lessons on Thursdays". Bryan and I uttered that line a lot during our first few months in Italy when we were struggling for words or mispronouncing things.
Well, today is Thursday and we're giving a talking lesson because I was tagged by Carol of Our Year in Italy to list my five favorite Italian words. The idea started with Jessica of WhyGo Italy (who, you will remember, stopped by the Pinon Tree a few months ago), then was turned into a full-fledged meme by Italofile.
Here we go...
This is one of those all-purpose words that they don't teach you in class but you hear sprinkled liberally in all conversations. It is almost as ubiquitous as the "like" and "youknow" that teenage and 20-something American girls say constantly (but is not nearly as grating and annoying). It has several meanings: then, now then, so, thus. It is very musical. "A-lllo-raaaaa" starts a new topic or gets a conversation back on track. A blunt allora in the middle of a story is a segue to the next act in the drama being told. An allora uttered after ah or eh means the speaker is trying to find the right word or think through her train of thought. Then there's E allora? So what? Allora rolls nicely off the tongue and makes you feel like you're speaking more naturally conversational when you throw it around.
Lively, exuberant, chirpy. It's just plain fun to say this word. Go ahead, give it a try. Pim-pan-te. See what I mean? Sono cosi' pimpante. I'm so excited! It's as chirpy as its definition. Throughout our trip to Basilicata, Maria was pimpante, bubbly about the experience and the people she met. I leave next Tuesday for a three-week adventure and am pimpante at the thought. One definition says it means "full of beans," I guess like jumping beans, or maybe like the old Rolling Stones line, "it's a gas, gas, gas." As they say in Italian eh-eh-eh (ha ha).
Not to be confused with spirituale, spiritosa has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with spirited fun. "Sei spiritosa," Francesca once told me. It means you're witty, playful, funny. It can also be used sarcastically: "Ah, spiritoso, eh?" You're a real wise guy.
Drag out those double m's and you've got yourself a keeper. Dimmmi! Tell me! Say it, speak, tell me what you want. Dimmi tutto, tell me everything, is used among friends. Kids beg, Dimmi di si' mamma, Mommy please say yes. Plain ol' dimmi might be called out by a familiar barista for you to state your order. And you'll sometimes hear people on the street answering their telefonini (cell phones) by barking it into the receiver. Dimmi te can be used to express "tell me about it" or "who would've thought".
Il Solito (eel SO-lee-to)
Al solito means 'as always' or 'as usual'. Di solito means usually, ordinarily, normally. But IL solito...ah, that is a nice one. Il solito means 'the usual'. My barista friend Giuliano would greet me each morning with this gem as he placed a nice frothy, hot cappuccino and almond-studded cornetto in front of me. Il solito is a such a beautiful thing, not only because it means I'm going to get my needed caffeine fix, but it indicates that I am known, a part of the morning tribe, accepted there as a regular.
Anyone can play along, but I'm tagging Eleonora of Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino because I think she might fling out some good foodie terminology at you, and Bryan, because, 1) he never does memes and I think it's high time he tried one, and 2) it will give him something to do while I'm traveling. Besides, he knows all about talking lessons.
For more wordy fun head over to Dianne Hales' fabulous site, Learning Italian Word by Word.
Read the list of my five least favorite Italian words: Five More Words, and a Surprise Inside