Learning Italian in Rome - Sign of the Week - Emergenza



It's been a little longer than a week since I posted, but who's counting? I spotted this sign on our recent trip to Villa Adriana and couldn't resist snapping a picture. It makes me feel a wee bit better when I mess up the congiuntivo imperfetto in class. 

Ci siamo? (Our Crossfit instructor uses this in place of "Are we ready?" As a rule, I no longer attempt to breakdown sentences when ci is involved. Non ne vale la pena - It's not worth the pain. Since we're on the subject, I avoid figuring out what the ne does as well.)

Moving on...

As you can see by the lovely UK flag, an attempt has been made to translate this sign into inglese. I'll let you come to your own conclusions regarding the accuracy of these ... umm ... phrases, but here's how I would break down the sign.

Emergenza = Emergency (so far, so good, ?)

In caso di necessità In caso di translates quite conveniently to "In case of." Though necessità does translate to "necessity," here it would be best translated to "need." Add the two together, and you get "In case of need." (Side Note: Most English signs of this nature would say "In the event of an emergency" rather than "In case of need." There is no explanation I can give an ESL reader as to why this is the case.)

Rivolgersi a(l)  = I have no idea how this ended up as "apply," since that's not what shows up in the dictionary. Rivolgere means to point or aim, and the reflexive form rivolgersi (a) means to turn to or go to someone.

(il) personale di vigilanza = Il personale (not to be confused with la personale) means staff, personnel, or employee. (If you're curious, the feminine form la personale means an art show or exhibition). La vigilanza means security or surveillance. Add those two together, and I'd translate the chunk as "security personnel."

sul luogo = Su (+il = sul) translates to a whole bunch of different prepositions in English, one of which is on. Luogo means location or place. While "on location" would be a correct translation, most English speakers would probably say "on site." ("On location" has too much of a Hollywood movie set feel to it)

o presso = O means or. Presso means near or at.

i presidi di vigilanza = Un presidio also translates to a whole host of things, from garrison and citadel, to a medical device. In this case, I think "outpost" or even a more generalized "area" best applies. This would make i presidi di vigilanza security outposts.

As such, I'd translate In caso di necessità, rivolgersi al personale di vigilanza sul luogo o presso i presidi di vigilanza to "In the event of an emergency, please direct yourself to security personnel, either on site or at the nearest security outpost." (not literal).   

Per urgenze telefonare al numero = Okay, urgenza does translate to urgency, but it also means an urgent situation (which is not the same as urgency.). Per literally means from, but, as we already know, prepositions in Romance languages do not translate well. In this case, I would translate per urgenze telefonare al numero as "In urgent situations, please call."

Thus concludes my sign of the week. Remember, I'm happy to take requests. If there's something you'd like me to attempt to explain or translate, shoot it to me in a comment or email, and I'll try my best. 

Ciao, tutti! Ci vediamo presto. (Good-bye all! We'll see each other again soon.)

[Written with significant help from WordReference]


Tara Quan

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, she enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines and alpha males into exotic contemporary locales, fantasy worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Visit Tara at www.taraquan.com