Learning Italian in Rome - Phrase of the Week: Fatto io (I made it.)

Okay, this is basically an excuse to post one of my favorite Italian commercials (ironically, starring an American actor). No, it isn’t the George Clooney Nespresso spots, though I like those too. It’s a pretty old one by Dustin Hoffman. 

I also needed something short and sweet, but with an expression I’ve heard a lot. Drumroll please…

Fatto io.

Expr: Short for “L’ho fatto io.” - I made it.
Related: “Faccio io.” - I’ll do it.
Also Related: “Facciamo noi.” - We’ll do it.
Heard a lot: “Fasciate voi?” - Are you all going to do it?

Obviously, the verb Fare (to do) is pretty nifty, and above are just a few of its uses. Are we ready for the video?

Lezioni di Caffè - Lessons in Coffee

Super easy, right? Here’s the quick and dirty breakdown. (Note, these aren't literal translations. It's how I would actually say these phrases in English.)

Maestro. Signore Vergnano. Tu insegna a me il caffè Italiano. Cominciamo! 

Okay, to be fair, I do think this line should have been in the Lei form (seeing as how he started off with “Maestro” and “Signore). Nonetheless, they are being informal. The only things you probably need to know here is that insegnare is the verb “to teach” and cominciare is the verb “to start” 

Those who’ve learned how to conjugate -are verbs might ask: “So if he’s using the Tu form, why did he say insegna instead of insegni?” Short answer? He’s using the imperative form (giving an order), in which case the conjugation is flipped (Italian is evil, I know). 

Cominciamo is the equivalent of us saying “Let’s start!”

Lungo. Normale. Corto. Macchiato. Scusa Sig. Vergnano.

Okay, the words are the same (Long, Normal, Short, Macchiato), but in Italy, these sizes have no relation to what you’re used to at Starbucks. A caffè normale is an American espresso. A macchiato is an espresso with a dollop of milk (a very small dollop). One would think that lungo would be a double espresso, but no—it’s an espresso with a little more hot water (but the same amount of coffee/caffeine). Corto is obviously an espresso with a little less water. An actual double espresso would be a doppio. Everyone probably already knows that scusa means “Pardon/I’m sorry.”

Franco, ti piace? Moltissimo. Ahh… Fatto io.

Ti piace? means “Do you like it?” The verb to like “piacere” works quite differently than in English. The way I think about it is that it literally means “To be pleasing to.” (A te=ti) piace il caffè? literally translates to “Is the coffee pleasing to you?” as opposed to “Do you like coffee?”

Dulcis in fundo, Fatto io means “I made it.”

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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

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Learning Italian in Rome - Phrase of the Week: Ci sto! (I'm in!)

Yes, I'm aware it's been an age since I posted one of these. I'm on Italian time, what can I say? But the August break has given me the energy to attempt another one of these posts. As many people already know, the Learn to Fly - Foo Fighters Rockin1000 Official Video went viral last Thursday, garnering over 19 million views on YouTube as of the time of writing, along with a promise from the band to organize a concert in Cesena. 

As it so happens, the video that was used to launch the project's crowdfunding campaign is perfect for reinforcing a phrase that somehow didn't make it into the syllabi of any of my Italian classes. Drumroll, please....

Ci sto! 

Expr: I'm in! - Let's do this! - I'm down! 

Pretty useful phrase, don't you think? And on the scheme of things, it's not particularly slang either. My guess is that a lot of Italian teachers don't wan't to rompere il vaso di Pandora with the whole "ci" business (this pronoun is everywhere, serving every function and no function at the same time). Anyhow, let's check out the video that got this crack team close to $50,000 for the Rockin 1000 concert.

Let's see how much of it I managed to figure out, shall we? (Note, these aren't literal translations. It's how I would actually say these phrases in English.)

È va bene. Velo racconto. Tutto è iniziato cosi. 

Okay, fine. I will tell you all about it. It all started like this.  - So far, pretty simple right? By the way, I'm digging the guy's accent. It's much easier to understand than what I'm used to in Rome. (Velo = vi + lo = à voi + lo) (p.p.s. To whoever writes Italian textbooks: double pronouns really need their own chapter, closer to the beginning. They should not be relegated to an appendix.)

Una mattina comunque [I think...], mentre facevo colazione, ho sentito un richiamo. 
Fabio, I really want to try piadina. Get me to Romagna.

Anyway, one morning, while I was having breakfast, I heard a call. - By the way, a piadina is a toasted wrap of sorts (only it's left open, and not actually "wrapped"). Usually, there's prosciutto, mozzarella, and arugula in the middle. Google image it, and you'll see a nice assortment.  

Senti. Ho avuto un idea. Folle. Voglio chiedere a Dave Grohl di venire a suonare a Cesena. 
Ma chi è?
Come chi é? I Foo Fighters.

Listen. I had an idea. [A] crazy [one].  I want to ask Dave Grohl to come and play in Cesena. But who is [Dave Grohl]? What do mean, who is [he]? The Foo Fighters! - Senti is literally "Listen," but it seems to be randomly inserted at the start of a lot of conversations, especially when one is asking another person for something.

Lo sai che è impossibile, vero? 
Come se chiedesse mio nipote di invitare Batman a sua festa di compleanno. 
Christian Bale, intendo, con il costumino.

You know it's impossible, right? [The same as my nephew asking] to invite Batman to his birthday party. Christian Bale, I mean, with his little costume.  - So who spotted the imperfect subjunctive tense (it's in bold)? As you can see, chiedere (to ask) miraculously converts into the gerund in the English version. 

Perché non ce ne invitiamo Bono Vox?
Dai Fabio, ti prego [a name I can't make out].
E perché non invitiamo [another name I can't make out]. Un po che non ci vede in giro.

Why not invite Bono Vox? Come on, Fabio, I beg you, [Celebrity A]. And why not invite [Celebrity B]. It's been a while since one has seen him/her around. - Sorry guys, my pop culture knowledge is sub-par, so I couldn't make out the names of what I assume to be famous people. By the way, check out the first an third sentences. I'm convinced "ce ne" exists to confuse non-Italian speakers. 

Ma stai facendo per una tipa. Puoi dirmelo. 
Ma quale tipa? Cosa stai dicendo? Lo faccio per me. Lo faccio per te. Lo faccio per l'umanità intera. 
Addirittura?

But you're doing this for a chick right? You can tell me. But what chick? What are you saying? I'm doing it for me. I'm doing it for you. I'm doing it for the entire human race. Is that so?Okay, I had to look it up. Tipa is apparently equivalent to the American slang: "chick." 

In somma, mi é venuto un' idea. È fuori di testa. Se vuoi tela racconto. Ci stai?

To some it up, an idea came to me. It's out of this world [he actually says "head"]. If you want, I'll tell it to you. Are you in? - In somma means "in summary," but it's basically a very common verbal filler, equivalent to "like," or "you know." By the way, Italians love their pronouns.

Lo faccio per te. Ci sto.
Va bene. Ci sto.
Certo. Ci sto.
Ci sto.

To drill in the phrase.... I'll do it for you. I'm in. Okay, I'm in. Certainly, I'm in. I'm in

As for the crazy idea he mentioned, below is the result.

[Written with significant help from WordReference]

Learning Italian in Rome - Phrase of the Week: Non vedo l'ora (fig. Can't wait)

Okay, this short and quick post is inspired by an actual experience. You see, after I published three romanzi rosa (romance/chick-lit novels) featuring gatti (cats), mio marito (my husband) took the hint and went about the process of adopting un cucciolo (any baby animal, aka cub, aka kitten, in this case...it can also mean puppy or lion cub though). However, the one he decided on hasn't been weaned yet, so he's been on pins and needles waiting for our new pet to be ready.

His Italian being better than mine, he wrote an email to the owner of the allevamento (place that raises/breeds animals, including cats) saying "Non vedo l'ora di vedere Zivago (temporary name of kitten). After the reading the email, I was 100% sure he made a mistake.

Me: Honey, why did your email say "I can't see the time to see Zivago?" Are you saying we don't have time to pick him up? (Yes, I was panicking. It took a while to get my neat freak spouse to come around to the idea of us having a pet. I wasn't going to let him back out at this late time.)

At which time, my know-it-all spouse, pointed me to this thread on WordReference.com.

You see, "Non vedo l'ora di vederti" means "I can't wait to see you," which, apparently, is not an uncommon way of ending romantic correspondence.

In other words, Non vedo l'ora is the English equivalent of "I can't wait to" or "I'm dying to" do something. The easiest way to use it would be to follow it with di + infinitive of a verbNon vedo l'ora di vedere = I'm dying to see, and Non vedo l'ora di vederti = I'm dying to see youNon vedo l'ora di vedere mia madre = I'm dying to see my mother.

Non vedo l'ora can also be followed by che + different subject + subjunctive tense. For example, Non vedo l'ora che sia natale = I can't wait for (it=new subject) to be Christmas. 

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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

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Learning Italian in Rome - Word of the Week: Profilattico (n. Condom)

I haven't updated this blog in a while (Mi dispiace). No excuses really.... Just haven't been feeling the urge to blog of late. I think it's the cold weather more than anything else. That said, I had an LOL (laugh out loud) moment this morning while checking my Google+ feed, courtesy of Tov e Dispies. This is going to be a quick and dirty post (pun-intended), but I thought I'd share the adult-ish humor.

P.S. Don't continue reading if you'd rather not know the Italian equivalent of the "F" word.

Link to Original Post

Link to Original Post

[Edited: After I ran this picture by my Italian teacher, I made a few adjustments. (p.s. She giggled each time I conjugated scopare... Apparently, I give off the prim and proper vibe. Appearances can be deceiving)]

Okay, first comes the scene-setter. 

Stazione centrale poco fa, un venditore: 

There are enough cognates here for you to guess what's going on, I think. Stazione centrale is what you think it is, i.e. "Central Station." In Italy, a city's main train and bus station (or if you're lucky, the subway/metro station as well) is technically called stazione centrale. Most have more specific names as well, such as Roma Termini. 

Poco fa means a little (poco) while ago (v. fare, "to do," 3rd person, present tense).

Un venditore is obviously a vendor/salesperson.

Tu compra un ombrelo. 

Okay, you're probably wondering if there are errors here. The answer is yes. Apparently, the post was also making fun common mistakes made by non-Italian speakers (something I completely missed until my teacher pointed it out). Amazingly, I caught the grammar mistake, but not the spelling. Alright, take a moment and read the sentence. What mistakes do you spot (hint: there are two)?

We'll start with the one I didn't catch. Ombrello (with two Ls) is the correct spelling for umbrella. A lot of non-native speakers (myself included), do not roll their tongues consistently when faced with the double L (we say om-bre-lo instead of om-brel-lo). Misspelling ombrello is the author's way of poking fun at this common mispronunciation.

I'm sort of proud of myself for getting this grammar mistake right. Compra is the third person/formal second person present tense conjugation of comprare (to buy). "You buy an umbrella" (informal) would translate to Tu compri un ombrello" (with an "i" instead of an "a"). Likewise, "Want to buy an umbrella?" would translate to (Tu) Compri un ombrello?

However, if the vendor is issuing an order (imperative), Compra un ombrello! would be grammatically correct (side Note: I HATE the imperative.) In this case, adding a subject (Tu) in front of the order is incorrect, making the statement of equivalent of "You buy umbrella!"

Ma c'è il sole.

Ma = But, ci/c' = there, è = is (v. essere, to be, 3rd person, present tense), il sole (the sun). One bane of an English' speaker's existence is the necessity of always putting articles before nouns. In Italian, the sentence is "But there is the sun" as opposed to "But there is sun," or "It's sunny."

Tu compra profilattico mentre scopa?

Okay, this highlights two common grammatical errors made by non-native Italian speakers (the majority of hawkers are immigrants). But remember, I speak English fluently, and I make grammatical errors while speaking all the time. (In Italian, I easily conjugate wrong about 50% of the time). 

That said, it's supposed to be Tu compri and not Tu compra (because it's a question, not an order). There's a missing article (they're like Gremlins), and scopare needs to be conjugated to the informal second person form. The correct version of this sentence is Tu compri un profillatico mentre scopi?

So what's un profilattico? It's pictured below.

Un Profilattico (Word of the Week) Condom Vending Machine, Rome, Italy.

Un Profilattico (Word of the Week)
Condom Vending Machine, Rome, Italy.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a handy dandy condom vending machine, found on every street corner in Rome. Have a sexual emergency? Have no fear. The pharmacies and grocery stores might close at 8PM, but if you want cigarettes, condoms, or lottery tickets, you're covered.

Un profilattico/Un preservativo is a condom. If your Italian teacher starts giggling uncontrollably when you try to talk about preservatives in food, this would be why. 

Mentre = while/during.

Scopare is the verb "to sweep," used more commonly to indicate the act of sexual intercourse. (Yes,' tis the Italian F-word.)

To conclude, the entire gist of the conversation is thus: 

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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

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Learning Italian in Rome - Video of the Week - Stardust (Parodia) by Mattes

As you can probably tell, my concept of a week is a little loose. My only excuse is that I made the mistake of writing and submitting several manuscripts at once, so I've been buried in edits and promotion of late. 

To make up for the significant gap since my last post, I'll be breaking down an entire video, which I haven't done in a while. Ever since Rome's weather turned abysmal, watching X Factor Italia has become a guilty pleasure, which is how I came to google Mika, one of the judges (giudice/i) on the show. His duet with Chiara, Stardust, is apparently still very popular, and you can watch a performance of the original on the X Factor website (or the mini-version at the bottom of this post). 

However, since the song is more English than it is Italian, I've decided to break down Mattes' parody of Stardust instead (by the way, you should consider subscribing to his YouTube channel–it's hilarious). Listening to this song was surprisingly useful since cars and driving-related words are a major gap in my study of Italian. 

Without further ado, here's the Parodia

Let's see how much of it I managed to figure out, shall we? (Note, these aren't the literal translations. It's how I would actually say these phrases in English.)

Oggi facciamo una lezione al volante
Metti la prima e caos costante. (<--Not 100% sure about this one)
Prima devi spinge(re) un po la frizione
Lascia con calma o parta un pistone

Today we're doing a driving lesson
Put it in first gear, and now constant chaos. (I believe this is a play on the saying Una al donna volante, pericolo costante: A woman at the wheel, constant danger.)
First you must push the clutch a bit,
Lift slowly or you'll lose a part. (literal version, for laughs: Leave it with calm or a piston departs)  

Adesso ci provo, non ti arrabbiare
Neanche tu prima sapevi guidare
Poi devo dirti ancora una cosa 
Io ho preso solo un foglio rosa 

Now I'll try it, don't get angry. 
Even you didn't know how to drive once. (literal: Not even you first knew to drive)
And first I must tell you something:
I only have a learner's permit. (literal: I took only a pink paper <-- these phrases are why relying on Google Translate can be dangerous.)

Il Ritornello 
Povero me ....
Povero te ....
Io resterò, a folle finché
Tu non vorrai fare guidare me

Chorus
Poor me!
Poor you!
I will stay, in neutral until
You will not want to let me drive. (<-- not sure about this one...)

Ora devi guadare la mia bravura
E io sto più tranquillo con la cintura  

Now you'll have to watch my skill
And I'd be calmer with the seat belt on. (literal: I will stay more tranquil with the belt.) 

So che non faremmo mai il botto.
Speriamo di non perché l'airbag è un po rotto.

You know that I will never be in a crash.
We'll hope not because the airbag is a bit broken. 

Facciamo così, impara da me
Esci da l'auto e fare guidare me

Let's do this, learn from me
Get out of the car and let me drive.

Ma scuola guida, me hanno insegnato
È meglio che guidi con viso truccato.
Ritornello

But the driving school, they taught me this
It's better to drive with make-up on. (literal: It's better to drive with a made-up face)
Chorus

Adesso invece parto come una pilota
Se prende il marciapiedi, stacchi una ruota!

Now instead I'll go like a pilot
If you go on the sidewalk, you'll tear a wheel!

Ma io mi sento come una Formula Uno
Ma questa però, è una Fiat Uno

But it feels like a Formula One
But this car, however, is a Fiat One. 

Ora parte in prima e non gratto
O Dio mio, attenta quel povero gatto

Now I got in first gear without scratching.
Oh my God, careful, that poor cat!

Ma tu volevi stare un po più sicuro!
Se dici così, schiantiamo contro quel muro

But you wanted to stay safer!
If you're talking like this, we'll crash against that wall!

Faremmo il botto io e te. x 4

We'll crash, you and I. x4 

Ora devi guadare la mia bravura
E io sto più tranquillo con la cintura
So che non faremmo mai il botto.
Speriamo di non perché l'airbag è un po rotto. 

Now you'll have to watch my skill
And I'd be calmer with the seat belt on.  
You know that I will never be in a crash.
We'll hope not because the airbag is a bit broken. 

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

[Written with significant help from WordReference]

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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

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Learning Italian in Rome - Sign of the Week - BiciRoma ROAR (October 26, 2014)

As you can probably tell, I'm still playing around with the format of these posts. Up until now, the signs I've picked have been a tad light on text, so it made sense to do the translation beneath. However, the one I've chosen today has a ton of information, so I had to get creative.

This post also serves as a public service announcement: if you own a bike and are in Rome on the 26th, this could be fun! Since one of the named sponsors is a bike rental company, there's a good chance you'll be able to rent a ride as well. 

I'll be participating in the "Ciclopasseggiata," assuming I don't oversleep... (I put my chances at fifty-fifty).

Original Sign - BiciRoma Roar 26 Ottobre 2014
Photo Credit: BiciRoma.it

BiciRoma Roar - October 26, 2014 - Rough English Translation

By the way, my Italian teacher stumbled upon this blog recently, and she pointed out some pretty glaring spelling mistakes in my earlier posts. Mi dispiace ( I apologize). I'll try to correct them a little later this month.

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

[Written with significant help from WordReference]

Learning Italian in Rome - Sign of the Week - Emergenza

EMERGENZA | TAKEN AT VILLA ADRIANA | TIVOLI (25-40 MIN DRIVE FROM ROME) | SEPTEMBER 20, 2014

EMERGENZA | TAKEN AT VILLA ADRIANA | TIVOLI (25-40 MIN DRIVE FROM ROME) | SEPTEMBER 20, 2014

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]

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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

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Learning Italian - Sign of the Week - Io non posso entrare

Villa Adriana | Tivoli (25-40 min drive from Rome) | September 20, 2014

Villa Adriana | Tivoli (25-40 min drive from Rome) | September 20, 2014

It's been a long while since I've done a Learning Italian post, and I'm trying to get back on the figurative blogging horse. Now that I live in Rome, I thought it best to shift the focus to day-to-day language as opposed to more esoteric stuff.

That said, I'm happy to take requests! My breakdown of the Gelato Commercial, had been surprisingly popular, which goes to show I'm horrible at predicting these things. If there's something you'd like me to attempt to explain, shoot it to me in a comment and I'll try my best. 

This sign is pretty self-explanatory (I'm trying to start small). I took this picture outside a gift shop and bookstore at Villa Adriana, which is also known as Hadrian's Villa (my Instagram feed has pictures). While this ancient Roman ruin is open to four-legged friends, the store is not. By the way, Italians va/vanno matto per (are crazy about) i cani (dogs), which is both a good and a bad thing. The upside if you have a dog is that they can more or less go with you anywhere. The downside comes from the significant percentage of dog owners who do not pick up after their pets, which means you may want to play a mental "poop patrol" game at all times (yes, even when you're at a several thousand year-old UNESCO world heritage site).

Here's a breakdown of what the sign says: 

io = I 
non = not
posso = can (1st person present tense conjugation of potere, v. to be able to)
entrare = enter (infinitive form, v. to enter)

Tie that all together, and you get "I can't enter."

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

My Italian Word of the Week - Farfalla (n. Butterfly)

Smithsonian Live Butterfly Exhibit - Taken by Me - April 2014

Smithsonian Live Butterfly Exhibit - Taken by Me - April 2014

Farfalla (n.)

n. butterfly
adj. butterfly-shaped (ex. bow tie, butterfly valve)
n. fig. person who is easily changeable, fickle
n. butterfly stroke (swimming)
n. type of pasta
definitions Corriere.it ; WordReference.com

Welcome to this week's installment of IWOW.

I'm a wee bit lazy today, so I picked something simple (and for which I have a picture). Farfalla is a butterfly. A farfalla can be used to indicate something is shaped like a butterfly. For example, una cravatta a farfalla  is a bow tie (i.e. a butterfly-shaped neck tie). Una valvola a farfalla is the throttle valve (i.e. a butterfly-shaped valve). A levered door handle/door lever is una maniglia a farfalla, and when car doors open by lifting upward (gull-wing), the feature is referred to as a farfalla

For most Americans, however, farfalla is a type of pasta, which brings us to this Barilla commercial from 1999. There's actually no talking in this spot (sì, sono pigra questa settimana), but it's cute and there's some text. It also is a really nice review of hypothetical sentences, also known to many an Italian student as "that darn imperfect subjunctive and conditional combination."

Uomo: Se fossi una farfalla volerei da te.

So, believe or not, "Fossi" is a derivative of the verb essere (to be). As you saw above, sono is the first person present tense conjugation of this verb (i.e. am). Fossi is the imperfect subjunctive mood. Before you launch into a rant about the subjunctive (which I have done upon occasion), remember it exists in English too. We don't notice it as native speakers, but it has boggled the mind of many an ESL student as well. Se (io) fossi, is equivalent to the English "If I were." I've tried explaining to a non-native speaker why one uses "were" instead of "was" or "am," and I've had no success. I usually end the discussion with "It's just the way English works."

Volerei is the present conditional conjugation of the verb volare (to fly) and NOT volere (to want). The present conditional is the equivalent of the English "would do something," so (io) volerei da te translates to "I would fly to your place." Put the two parts together, and we get "If I were a butterfly, I would fly to your place."

Donna: E io ti mangerei.

Since the two are still chatting in the hypothetical, the lady also responds in the conditional. Mangerei is the first person present conditional conjugation of mangiare (to eat). The entire sentence translates to, "And I would eat you [if you were a butterfly pasta...]."

Donna: È bello cenare con le nostre farfalle...

This sentence doesn't have any weird tenses. E bello translates to "It's good." Cenare is the verb to dine (i.e. to eat dinner). In plural, la farfalla turns into le farfalle. Put it all together, and we get "It's good to dine with our butterflies." (Yes, I know it's cheesy. 90s commercial for pasta--enough said). 

Uomo: È come guadare la stessa stella. 

Guardare is the verb "to watch/to look at." You probably already know stella means star and stesso/stessa means the same. Come means a lot of things, but in this case I think the whole sentence comes together to say "It's as though (we're) looking at the same star."

Donna: Che padre romantico avrà il nostro bambino.

Dulcis in fundo, padre means father and bambino mean's child. Avrà is the third person future tense of the verb avere (to have). The significance here is that she used avrà (simple future) as opposed to avrebbe (present conditional) to indicate a definite event in the far future (as in not tomorrow/next week/or even next month--which Italians tend to use the present tense for). This line translates to "What a romantic father our child will have." (i.e. I'm pregnant).

Since I've been avoiding carbs, I'm now quite hungry. Ciao, tutti! Ci si vede il giovedì prossimo. (Good-bye all! See you again next Thursday.)

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my posts, please leave a comment.

2 Comments

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

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My Italian Word of the Week - Scusa (n.) and Scusare (v.)

Häagen-Dazs® - Gelato - Sea Salt Caramel

Häagen-Dazs® - Gelato - Sea Salt Caramel

Scusa (n.)

n. an apology
n. a pardon/forgiveness
n. an excuse
n. a defense, justification

Scusare (v.)

v. to excuse, to pardon
Conjugation: Italian Verbs

definitions Corriere.it ; WordReference.com

Welcome to this week's installment of IWOW.

If you're like me and get most of your TV entertainment through Hulu, you've experienced the commercial-loop effect. By this I mean having the same exact commercial play over and over again, so much so that you've seen it 4 times over the course of a single episode. I also go on Grey's Anatomy binges, which is how I cope with post-submission nail-biting. Perhaps because of the viewer demographic, the looped advertisements I've had to watch were for Haagen-Dazs' relatively new Gelato line. Luckily for me, this commercial is entirely in Italian.

Before I break down the short clip below, let me quickly go over one of the most useful noun-verb sets in Italian: Scusa (n. an apology or excuse) and Scusare (v. to excuse or pardon).

What you will probably hear most often is the phrases Scusa, Scusami, Mi Scusi, or Scusate, all of which translate to "Pardon me," "Excuse me," or "Forgive me" in English. You would say this when you're bumping into people as you try to squeeze off a bus, or if you've just hangrily snapped at your husband and needed to say sorry.  (Hangry=hungry+angry. Yes, it's a made up word)

Now don't let the "a"s and "i"s fool you. At first glance, you would think that Scusa/Scusami is formal and Mi Scusi is informal because you've been taught to recognize the former as the Lei conjugation of scusare and the latter as the Tu conjugation. It's actually the other way around in this case because (wait for it...) we're in the imperative tense (i.e. you're "ordering" the person to forgive you). This tense has it's own conjugation scheme (that is very similar to the subjunctive), and thus Scusa/Scusami is actually informal and Mi Scusi is formal. You could, however, avoid this entire conundrum of you're speaking to more than one person and opt for Scusate, the Voi (second person plural) form.

I loathe the imperative because it has weird rules (such as using the infinitive for negative statements), so I prefer to avoid it when I can. As such, I prefer the longer but less confusing route: Devo chiederti scusa (informal) or Devo chiederLe scusa (formal), which translates to "I must ask your pardon." This checks two boxes: (a) I'm not technically giving an order, and (b) I get to use the present tense of dovere (must, to be required to), which I'm more comfortable with. 

Which brings us to the Haagan-Daz Gelato commercial. The English subtitles give you a gist of the conversation, but I'm going to break it down line by line and give you a more literal translation so you can see how the moving parts all come together. It's super short, so we'll go through the entire clip.

Husband: Ciao Amore. -- Hello Love.
Wife: Me ne vado! -- I'm leaving!
Husband: Di nuovo?-- Again?

Okay, the first and third lines are obvious, but the second probably isn't. The wife is using the compound verb andarsene. These verbi pronominali are the bane of many an Italian student's existence because they just don't translate well to English. Basically, while andare means to go (and is a very irregularly conjugated verb already), andarsene (andare + se + ne) means to leave. Se and ne are pronouns, and the se part changes depending on the subject. Me ne vado is the first person present tense conjugation of this verb.

Wife: Si di nuovo.-- Yes, again.
Wife: Vado a cercare qualcun in grado di amare qualcun altro oltre se stesso -- I'm going to search for someone (who is) able to love someone else in addition to himself.

As you can see, vado is simply to go (and do something), as opposed to me ne vado, which means to leave. By the way, in grado di is a really useful chunk of language. Adesso, non sono in grado di palare Italiano bene means "Right now, I'm not able to speak Italian well." I find it much easier to use essere (to be) + in grado di (able) than potere (can, to be able to). Amare means to love, qualcun(o) means someone, altro means else, oltre means in addition to, and se stesso means oneself/himself. 

Husband: Vai a ta mama! -- Go to your mother!
Husband: E l'unica pazza che ti supporta -- (She) is the only insane woman that puts up with you.

Vai is the second person imperative (and present tense) conjugation of andare, so vai a ta mama obviously means "Go to your mother." L'unico/l'unica means "the only." Pazza is being used as a noun in this case to mean insane woman (although it can also be used as an adjective). The verb supportare literally means to prop up or to sustain, but it's used figuratively to mean "to put up with."

Wife: E finita. -- It's finished!
Husband: E a ora -- It's at (that) time.
Wife: Addio -- Farewell
Husband: Finalmente -- Finally.

Okay, so you can probably tell the translators took a wee bit of artistic license. Finito/finita means to be finished or done. Ora means time, so e a ora means "it's at (that) time," but figuratively means "about time!" Addio you should already know, and finalmente means finally or at last (I think they went with "good riddance" to add drama). And now we get to the Word of the Week. 

Wife: Scusami. -- Forgive me. 
Husband: Amore mio -- My love. 
Wife: Perche non mi chiedi scusa? -- Why aren't you asking forgiveness? 
Husband: Ma perche non chiederti scusa? -- But why don't I ask your forgiveness?
Wife: .... -- (All I hear is gibberish, sorry)

Since I went over scusami and chiedere scusa earlier, this should be easy. Amore mio is "my love" and is used as a term of endearment. Perche means why. Non mi chiedi scusa breaks down to "you not ask forgiveness to me," which doesn't literally translate. Mi  is a (to) + me (me). While a literally means "to," it's used in a lot of instances where an English speaker might use "from," as is the case here. In English, we say "ask for something from someone," but in Italian, it's chiedere qualcosa a qualcuno. In the next sentence, the husband's being sarcastic--as in, "Why don't I ask your forgiveness?". Then the wife screams something I don't understand.

Ciao, tutti! Ci si vede il giovedì prossimo. (Good-bye all! See you again next Thursday.)

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my posts, please leave a comment.

5 Comments

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

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