Friday, September 21, 2007

Just in Case

Phrase: "un orso ha mangiato lo squalo"
Translation: "a bear ate the shark"
Category: just in case
It was the last day of Italian class and Antonella tricked us into practicing past tense by starting with "Eiri, sono andata alla spiaggia..." and having us add to the story in turn. We started out with mundane things: we ate, drank, swam, slept, and even went to church. But somewhere along the way, the day went crazy. A shark was added to the mix, which ate the collective I, but then we somehow escaped, found an island, and took a shower. Then, a bear was introduced and mayhem ensued, a second shark was introduced, and I think Henry slept, with the bear and shark, before escaping to Rome (I lost track of the subject at this point). But before we knew it, we woke up, courtesy of Scott.

Also interesting, according to my dictionary, 'bear' has a different connotation in Italian than in English--it refers to an unsociable person.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

When you need a hand...

Category: People
Phrase: Puoi aiutarmi?
Translation: Can you help me?

My experience with this phrase began yesterday on the bus when an elderly woman needed help lifting her bag onto the bus. Luckily the international sign for help is a look of distress and a gesture, so I knew what the correct translation was. The phrase is very useful; I used it today when trying to get someone to validate my card with the machine out of reach. I have yet to hear it outside of a bus, but I'm sure it's an important one to manage a Roman life.


Enhance your shopping experience!

Category: Shopping
Phrase: Posso probarlo
Translation: Can I try this on?

This phrase comes in quite handy at the cute little clothing stores in Rome. Since there are very few department stores, you'll probably end up going to tons of tiny little shops and conversing with many shop owners. This way, you can make sure to appear more informed and waste less time with mad explanatory hand gestures!

Goodbye and Good Luck!

Category: Greetings and Pleasantries

Italian Phrase: In bocca al lupo!


Literal – In the mouth of the wolf!

Meaning – Break a leg! (Wishing someone luck)

Explanation: I found this phrase while flipping through my Italian phrase book a few weeks ago, and it just jumped out at me. I like the sentiment. When someone wishes you luck like this you should answer with Crepi!, which means Die!, to ward off bad luck. Anyway, I hadn’t thought about it for a while. But last night Joel and I were walking and he mentioned the phrase to me. My goal for the last day is to say this to someone, possibly Joel since he’s leaving first.

When packing...

Category: Leaving Rome.
Phrase: É gratis!
Translation: Its free.

One of my roommates had planned out his whole trip so that he would throw nearly half the clothes that he brought away right before he left. Someone convinced him this was a waste of clothing. To prove that it was not a waste since no one else would want the clothes anyway, he used the above phrase to try to part with the clothes (which happened to be two pairs of socks and three shirts). He made this offer to everyone in our apartment and several Italians. Needless to say, no one took him up on it. This is useful for those with overfull suitcases. Otherwise it is rather rare since nothing is free in Italy. You even have to pay for water at restaurants.


Category: Food
Phrase: "Mangiamo!"
Translation: Let's eat!

When in Rome, strolling the streets, one cannot help but take detours into pastry shops, gelaterias, markets, anything. It really gets teh saliva runnings and the stomach churning. So, a short and quick phrase to say when one sees something good to eat is mangiamo!

Decisions, decisions

Category: Food
Phrase: "Che cosa mi consiglia?"
Translation: What do you recommend?

Choosing two gelato flavors for a piccolo size cup or cone is difficult, especially when you're as indecisive as I can be and want every flavor possible. It's easier to choose when I'm at my favorite gelateria, but when I'm trying somewhere new, I've found it helpful to ask "che cosa mi consiglia?". I only get two flavors. Better make the best out of it, right?

Ugly pretty words

Category: Mood, music
Phrase: "Abastanza bene"
Does not mean: "super duper good"
Actually means: Well enough. Good.
Our roommate would walk around the apartment energetically exclaiming this phrase. It was her word; she believed it was a happy response to "how are you?" and it would put a smile to our faces everytime we heard it.
However, the next week in Italian class, we learned that it actually meant the much more tepid and unenthusiastic "good." Let's not make that mistake. Just because a word sounds happy, it does not mean it perpetrates that emotion. The word "diarrhea" was voted the prettiest sounding word in the English dictionary a while back. You get the idea.

Ho mangiato TROPPO.

Category: Food, not enough
Phrase: Ho sempre fame
Translation: I am ALWAYS hungry!

On night, after a fine Italian meal, I decided that it would be most respectful to the dinner resting in my belly to speak only in Italian for the greater part of the walk back to the UWRC. Poor Mindy. Since I don't really know in Italian, topics were limited, but one of my phrases could be useful. Ho fame. Ho sempre fame. Someone has leftovers? Ho sempre fame. Who wants to go on a gelato run? Ho sempre fame!! So whenever you've had too much to eat but won't admit it, just remember: when someone says "can anyone finish my pasta?"

"Ho Sempre Fame!"


Category: Shopping
Phrase: Basta Cosi!
Translation: That's Enough!

This is the phrase you need when you're shopping for pizza by the slice or fruit by the kilo. It means 'That's enough' if you want more use 'di piu' or less use 'di meno' otherwise 'basta cosi' seals the deal and you won't have to resort to as many hand waving gestures to get your point across.
Category: Exclamations
Phrase: Allora
Translation: Then

Our Italian teacher, Costanza, uses this word often, usually when we are beginning a new topic or activity. It is usually followed by "adesso," meaning "now." Many of us have begun to use one or both, not always in the appropriate context. Nonetheless, they are fun to say, and on more than one occasion, one person saying "Allora" has been followed by a rousing chorus of echoes from those around them.

~Beautiful Doughnut~

Category: FOOD

Italian Phrase: Chiambella

What it means in English:
1. Doughnut
2. "Love-Handle" or "Spare-Tire"

Story Behind It:

At one of my meetings with Erin, one of our instructors, we started to talk about how our eating habits have changed now that we are in Italy. She mentioned that she enjoys having a chiambella every morning. I did not know that word and when I asked her what it meant she said doughnut. It also translates as "love-handles" or the extra belly fat around someone's waist.

I thought the word is much cuter than "spare-tire" and hopefully one day the rest of the world will switch over and use it to.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Category: Food
Phrase/Word: Troppo!
Translation: Too much!
Uses: I have found myself using this word several times a week over the five weeks that we have been in Italy. I have found that many Italians express their love, affection and friendship through food... a lot of food. Sometimes there is just too much love/food for one meal, but I hope to use this phrase a lot more with future Italian friends.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Favorite Snack

Category: Eating
Italian: "Vorrei un panino con tacchino e pesto."
Translation: I would like one roll with turky and pesto.

The Story: The last time I was in Rome, I would always get a turkey and pesto panino from Ruggeri's on the corner. In an effort to speak more Italian, I asked my Italian teacher how I could order my favorite snack. I've used this phrase at least 15 times in the past 5 weeks (they're delicious)... I'm probably going to get a few more before I go.
Category: Expert Roman
Phrase: troppo turisti interno
Translation: too many tourists inside
Background story: This is what the man trying to get people into his eatery told me as I was leaving the Piazza Navona at night. I looked at the loud tourists inside a place across the street and made a face of dissatisfaction. The man near me said, though his place was pretty full, that there were too many tourists, and shrugged. Always a good reason to avoid a place, this phrase will help you explain why you're moving on. And since you can say it in Italian, all the better.

A Sad Tale

Category: Goodbyes
Phrase: Condoglianze
Translation: You have my condolences

My grandpa died last week. I'm sorry that I didn't tell you. When I told Antonella, my Italian instructor, this is what she said. So now you know what to say to an Italian who is saying goodbye.

Friday, September 14, 2007

In excess

Un sacco di tempo
'a bag of time'

Expelled by a gristly woman on the bridge to Castle Saint Angelo.

Interpretation: Phrase used to express excessive amounts of time, perhaps by people of excessive nature.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Getting food to go

Category: Eating

Phrase: Porta via

Translation: Take away (to go)

Story: Once again, my post revolves around food. I decided to go to the forno (bakery) in the Campo for lunch today. As the clerk began packaging my prosciutto crudo e ficho panini (cured ham and fig sandwich) and budino di riso (rice pudding-like dessert), he said something in Italian I didn’t understand. I gave him my best ‘what did you say?’ look and he asked, “Take away?” After an overenthusiastic “Si”, I asked him to teach me how to say “take away” in Italian. Porta via. Porta via. Porta via. Hope you find it useful!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Those Plastic Bags

Category: Shopping
Italian Phrase: Non voglio la busta, per favore.
English Translation: I do not want the bag, please.

Grocery stores here charge anywhere from four to ten centesimi (euro cents) per bag. I wasn’t aware of this until I actually looked at my receipt one day – turns out the mysterious five cent “shopper” item was for the glossy plastic sack the cashier threw on top of my groceries in the checkout line. Yes, you get to bag your own groceries and the store gets to add a few cents to your bill.

To save money (it adds up!), next time I will bring a reusable bag and say “Non voglio la busta, per favore.”

When buying a panino!

Category: Ordering food
Phrase: "Prosciutto cotto o crudo?"
Traslation: Cooked or cured ham?

I learned this phrase in Siena, when ordering a panino from a local shop. (It was delicious!) I always feel a little ignorant just wordlessly pointing to random sandwich ingredients or pizzas I want to order. So this time, I was pretty relieved, being in the prosciutto mood, and knowing the word for it. Proudly, I asked for "prosciutto". Then came the question: "Cotto o crudo?" I must have looked completely lost, but he took pity on me and proceeded to pull a cooked ham and cured ham (what I usually think of when I think "prosciutto") out of the display case and repeated "cotto" and "crudo" until I remembered both. So here's one more helpful phrase for those who wish to seem slightly less ignorant when ordering their panini!

I think I can handle it on my own thanks...

Category: Shopping (honestly the one time...)
Phrase: Qualcosa come questo?
Translation: Something similar to this?

I am by no means big on shopping; in fact, I hate it more here than in the States: I am the one who holds the money, so I am the one who decides if I like it. Here you cannot simply try on one shirt without someone hounding you for your size in every other shirt in the establishment. This shopping venture happened in Florence, and I am reluctant to find out what Rome is like. Lucky for me, the saleslady said this phrase many times so I was sure to remember it. Since when is buying a shirt a group effort? I mean for guys...

Perhaps this question could be phrased as a statement when I actually know what I am looking for and verbally ask for help.

Category: Greetings
Phrase: Buon finesettimana
Translation: Have a nice weekend

Michelle was quizzing me for our second day of Italian class. We had three pages of short phrases and words to memorize, and since it was our first homework assignment, I wanted to be sure I knew them all. When we came to "Have a nice weekend", however, I wasn't quite sure. "Buon fine...tesa...mama?" was the garbled version that came out. Since then, it has become a running joke at the apartment to ask me how to say weekend, and respond with, "Buon finesetyomama." I know this is one phrase I will never forget.

Posso avere un po' di panna montata?

Category: Gelato (it deserves it's own category)
"Con panna, per favore!"
Traslation: With whipped cream, please!

Panna isn't exactly like the whipped cream in America, but I don't know of a better translation. To be more precise, you can use "panna montata", panna is just "cream," but I like to mangle as few Italian words as possible when I speak. Ever since we were treated to gelato at Giolitti's, where I first learned of panna, I always try to remember to ask for it. Perche no? It's free, usually. I don't even like whipped cream at home, so panna must be good!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Categories: People, Philosophy.
Phrase: "Amore, rispettere, vivere." --Carlos Romano
Translation: "Love, respect, live."

An old man (86 years old, according to the ID card he would show us time and time again) helped us figure out where to take the bus and proceeded to tell us his life story. Joel and I were supremely excited about using our Spanitalian skills but ended up nodding and smiling throughout most of his monologue in a moderate state of incomprehension. Did his wife die? Was he happy with his life? We're not too sure, but he left us with words of wisdom to pass along: amore, rispettere, vivere. These are the essentials in life.
I'm not even sure rispettere is gramatically correct, but that's what I scribbled down in my journal. (It rhymes.) I'm not positive about vivere either, because to say that living is conditional to life is, well, repetitive. I tried to tell him mangiare was essential to life, too, but he replied that there was no point in it if we couldn't share it with the ones we loved. Thoughts?

Category: Eating / absolutely essential Italian phrases
Italian Phrase: Un assaggio, per fervore.
English Translation: A taste, please.

Story: I like gnocchi with gorgonzola, and I wanted to make it at the apartment, so I went to grocery store to buy a block. Up in front of the counter, I found that there were not one, but three different gorgonzole to choose from. Noticing that I was standing there thinking, the girl behind the counter asked for my order - but I didn’t know what to choose from, sweet? sharp? with seasoning? I blathered on in Italian for a while, trying to say “a little,” so I could see if the sweet suited me, but this only made her think I wanted a little to buy, not to try. Reflexively I then tried English. No go, the girl couldn’t understand. I was forced to make hand gestures, but she didn’t understand why I was making such strange motions toward my open mouth. Then, all at once, a good five minutes after we started, she got it. We spent another five minutes practicing the phrase un assaggio. She smiled and laughed and was very nice about it, which was a relief. Now, emboldened with my ability to ask for a sample, I do it all the time. I encourage you to do the same.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Navigating Crowds...

Category: People
Italian Phrase: Promesso
English Translation: Permit me (to pass)

Rome is a haven for huge crowds. They take over piazze, block the narrow streets, and bestow a sardine-like sensation on public transportation. Walking through them safely requires a bit of finesse; be sure to have a scusi or promesso ready as you dive elbow-first in to the fray. While scusi can mean “excuse me” or “sorry,” promesso is specific to the task at hand and therefore tends to be more effective. It was an invaluable tool for carving a path through a swarm of grocery shoppers at Despar yesterday. I’m sure the hordes of revelers celebrating Notte Bianca tonight won’t be quite as accommodating.

Before the food coma

Category: Eating

Phrase: E Buonissimo!

Translation: It’s delicious!

During my stay here in Italy, I have had some of the most amazing food ever. I often find myself wanting to express how great the food is in Italian, but did not know how until I finally looked it up today. So, to the jovial old man who served us bruschetta with olive oil in Civita, the cooks at Za-Za in Florence, and Linda in Trastevere... E Buonissimo!

For those long days...

Category: Useful Expressions
Phrase: Sono stanca morta
Translation: I am dead tired.
Story: Somedays we have short days and somedays we have long days. The day that we went to Orvieto and Cività was definitely a very long but satisfying day. When we finally arrived back in Rome by Ponte Sisto, I was stanca morta. However, I soon found out that that day was only in preparation for the day that Melissa, Scott, Elice and I went to Naples and Pompei. After that day I was truly stanca morta.


Friday, September 7, 2007

If the chance arrives....

Category: Communication
Phrase in Italian: Neanche si tu fossi l'ultima persona sulla terra!
Translation: Not if you were the last person on earth!

Before coming on this trip, I was constantly warned about the creepy Italian guys who prey on American women. So browsing through my miniature phrase book, I came upon this phrase. While I have yet to find the opportune moment to use it -- it just doesn't quite seem the logical response to all the "Konichiwa"s -- it may just come in handy....

Il Pozzo di San Patrizio

Category: Tourism
Translation: Well of St. Patrick (located in Orvieto)
The Story: In the extremely tourist friendly Orvieto, the sign outside the Well explained that the name of the 53m well is also used as a common allusion to someone who is wealthy ("[person] has pockets as deep as il pozzo di San Patrizio"). I tried to google the phrase to find out more on its usage, and decided to google-translate wikipedia, ending up with an article on the "Sink of Saint Patrizio." Reading between the lines, the common usage of the phrase is a misunderstanding because the allusion is actually to the Irish well of the same name, at the end of which is supposed to be the doors of Purgatory. The phrase can also refer to a particularly difficult task as well, according to Rick Steves ("[task] is like digging il pozzo di San Patrizio").

In any case, the phrase is interesting, but not horribly useful unless we're begging for a gelato stop (insert "Shawn" for "person") or talking about posting our papers (insert "taming Blogger" for "task").

With the portions here, you may not need this one...

Category: Eating.
Phrase: Un po' di...
English Translation: A little of...

You will probably not need this phrase too often because frankly the portions in Italian usually leave something to be desired. However, there is one occasion when this phrase might come in handy. I like my gelato. In fact, I like my gelato so much that I feel it important to learn vocabulary such that I can create the perfect gelato combination. The population of the world can be separated into two different, opposing camps. The first like creamy gelato flavors, the second like fruity gelato flavors. Hopefully you all already know that I like creamy flavors if you know me at all. Anyway, to create the perfect gelato combination, one needs to create the perfect ratios of flavors. Rarely is a 1:1:1 ratio appropriate. To this end it is important to have a phrase that can denote a small amount of something. For example, I enjoy pistachio flavor, but I want this to be roughly 23.34858483% of my total gelato serving. I observed some Italians ordering and with a little help from my good friend Joel I was ready for perfection.

I Walk Alone!

Category: Pick-up lines
Phrase in Italian: Abiteremmo insieme?
Translation: Shall we walk together?
Story: I discovered this line while walking home from Parco Savello. An Italian man, who had been in the park with me, walked up behind me and posed the question. Though I tried to pull the “Non parlo Italiano” he proceeded to ask again in English. Up until this point in the conversation, I had assumed that he wished to walk together simply because we were both going the same direction. This assumption was broken when I asked the next question “Where are you going?” to which he responded, “Wherever you are.” Therefore, should someone ask you “Abiteremmo insieme?” just say No, unless you really do want an Italian man to escort you home.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Stalker reps via honest mixups.

Category: Daily Use.
Phrase: Ce vediamo domani.
Translation: See you tomorrow.

There is a clerk at the local Despar that Elice and I run into almost everyday, including the first day when there was a mix up about the bags. Since that infamous day, I'm afraid that the two of us already have a bit of a ridiculous rep at the store. On this particular day, after several weeks of build up 'Ciaos', I finally decided to try out some of my Italian with the clerk (who amazing does not speak English). As we were leaving, him and another worker came outside to wave goodbye to us. I was already walking away when I turned around to say, See you tomorrow, which I had forgotten how to say. So I walk back and ask, how do you say 'See you tomorrow'. Between the two of them, and their half-understanding English, they managed to think I was asking, 'When can I see you tomorrow?' So they told me, around one-thirty. Then gave me a big smile. So now, the whole store will no doubt think I am gearing up for a romantic grocery rendezvous with the clerk. In any case: if you want to say see you tomorrow, the phrase is, Ce vediamo domani. Although, please use with caution.

When you just can't wait any longer...

Category: Eating
Phrase: Posso avere il conto, per favore?
English Translation: Could I have the bill, please?

From my experiences at sit-down restaurants in Italy, waiters rarely automatically give you the bill, even after everyone has finished their meal and the plates have been cleared. However, I didn't notice this right off the bat -- So the first few times, I would find myself sitting at the table waiting....and waiting...and waiting some more for the waiter to return with my check. Eventually I realized I needed to ask for it: posso avere il conto, per favore? So, to prevent wasting time after you've finished your meal, use this phrase!

Multi-purpose phrase

Category: Food
Phrase: Perche no?
English translation: Why not?
Significance of phrase: I first learned this phrase when we were looking for the Perche No? gelateria during one of our Quests in Florence. Since leaving Florence, I have found myself using the phrase quite often, mostly in response to the question "shall we get gelato?" It is a simple phrase, but I think that any phrase that involves use of our limited Italian to try more gelato is important and useful for all the other students in this program.

Those Thirsty Nights

Category: Useful Restaurant Phrases
Italian Phrase: Vorrei un bicchiere d'acqua dal rubinetto.
Translation: I would like a pitcher of tap water.

There isn't one particular incident when this has come up but usually waiters will only offer you water from a bottle. This phrase is super helpful when you just want some of Rome's delicious tap water!! This way you can save a few Euro on the drinks and maybe get some extra dessert ;-)


When you don't feel like paying for water...

Category: Eating Out
Italian Phrase: Acqua del rubinetto, per favore.
English Translation: Tap water, please.
Explanation: When you're eating at a restaurant in Italy, water
is not free.You pay for either fizzy or still bottled water.
This can get expensive when it's 113 degrees outside. We asked
our Italian teacher how to ask for tap water, and this is the
phrase she told us. It has come in handy. The tap water here is
pretty good, and it's free when someone will serve it to you.
Sometimes the response to this phrase is "We have no tap water,"
which seems unlikely and a little worrisome if true. One thing
I do love about Rome is that they have fountains of water all
over the place, and you can use them to fill up your water bottle
with cold water.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Girls, use this phrase when necessary!

Category: Useful Commands
Phrase: Non toccarmi!
Translation: Don’t touch me!
Story: Linda and I were taking a long night stroll in Siena. That night there happened to also be a very large private party going on so there were many guys and girls congregating in the streets. As we were walking, a guy reaches out from behind and strokes my hair. Non toccarmi! This is a very good phrase to know to fend of the extremely bold and forward guys in Italy.


When you don't want to drink...

Category: Eating
Phrase in Italian: Devo guidare.
Translation into English: I must drive.
The Story: I was at dinner the other night with friends when the waiter wanted to pour us all glasses of wine. I told him that I didn't want any, which prompted him to ask me if I was the designated driver for the group. After telling him I was, I got him to teach me the phrase in Italian. It's been pretty useful way to avoid drinking at dinners, especially because wine is such a big part of the culture here.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Another cool Italian Phrase

Category: People, more specifically Friends!

Italian Phrase: Chi trova un amico trova un tesoro

Translation: Who finds a friend, finds a treasure.

I was with a group of girls looking for a journal in Rome and one journal had this phrase on its front cover. I wrote the phrase down and had it translated. I thought that it was very cool and would look great stenciled in a scrapbook as a title for a page with all of our new friends on it!


Il negozio di carta

Cuando? Mai!
'When? Never!'

Directed from the cashier to the cash register.

Interpretation: A sign of frustration expressing the unreliable nature of a situation or system.