Category Archives: Italian language

Everyday Italian: Newspaper Headlines

The local newspapers in Italy’s smaller cities and towns advertise with eye-catching headline boards, designed to be as sensational as possible. Usually one board reports two headlines of the day or week, and sometimes the juxtaposition is unintentionally funny. The headline above says: “Struck by a toilet seat thrown from the train – Priest collapses Read More…

The local newspapers in Italy’s smaller cities and towns advertise with eye-catching headline boards, designed to be as sensational as possible. Usually one board reports two headlines of the day or week, and sometimes the juxtaposition is unintentionally funny.

The headline above says: “Struck by a toilet seat thrown from the train – Priest collapses at mass!” (Okay, I cheated a bit – colpita is in the feminine form, so we know the victim of the flying toilet seat was female.)

07 03 11 032

Above:

  • Too lively: the janitoress insults and threatens the children – Writings and drawings defame the principal of Grassi high school
  • Mystery of the millionaire inheritance – Goodbye to a Lecchese pharmacist – Dies at 34 years, leaving four children
  • Shootout at the cemetery and in Pescarenico: one wounded – From today and for six months the Post Office is at the former Piccola

2006 09 17 001

Above:

  • At the wedding lunch, [he] betrays his wife with his [male] friend.
  • Fell in acid, Lecchese dies after three months.
  • Terrible accident: a woman run over and killed in the crosswalk.
  • Alarm on the Grigna (a local mountain) – six hikers lost.

2006 12 008

  • Alarm in the Business Piazza*
  • Father dies while wrapping Christmas presents
  • 30,000 Lecchesi (people of Lecco) forced to junk their cars (a new environmental law will forbid use of cars older than 1993, i.e. pre-catalytic).
  • Investigation: ‘Ndrangheta and business – treasure hunt for the [riches] of the [crime] bosses
  • In the car with a pistol – young person in handcuffs.

* As reader Marco Andreis points out, Piazza Affari is a real piazza in Milan, “just off via della Posta, a few blocks from Piazza Cordusio. Palazzo Mezzanotte, in Piazza Affari, was thei headquarters of the Borsa Valori di Milano, the Milan Stock Exchange. Nowadays, after privatisation, the Gruppo Borsa Italiana is located there.

So the name of the square was and is still used as a synonym of the Stock Exchange or, in a more general sense, of the Italian financial and business community. More or less as in the US, where Wall Street means the New York Stock Exchange.”

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  • Vandals raid the Resinelli [a tourist area on the mountain above Lecco]: the shocking photos [note that choc = shock, not chocolate]
  • Tax fraud: troubles for Sergio Longoni
  • Free gift: the volume “In dialect you say it this way”

Learn Italian Through Signs

above: Here where the Archbishop of Milan held court, where with the bitter duel of Ramengo and Lupo amidst the jokes and songs of Tremacoldo, T. Grossi [the author?] gave a life of courtesy and tragic passions to Ottorino and Bice, a faithful portrait of an ungrateful age in which will dominate the figure of Read More…

above: Here where the Archbishop of Milan held court, where with the bitter duel of Ramengo and Lupo amidst the jokes and songs of Tremacoldo, T. Grossi [the author?] gave a life of courtesy and tragic passions to Ottorino and Bice, a faithful portrait of an ungrateful age in which will dominate the figure of Marco Visconti. Here [in] the hundred and first year since the publication of the novel “The Bellanese”, with wishes for a new century of faith, probity, and glory, this memorial [set] on September 8th, 1935 – 13th year of the Fascist era.This plaque on a building in Bellano commemorates a novel we’ve never heard of – evidently the pious hopes of those who set the stone have not come true (but it appears that they themselves forgot to commemorate the book’s 100th year!). Note that there has been some attempt to whitewash that last line about the Fascist era.
handicap

Awareness Campaign

I can’t think of a good translation forsensibilizzazione. It means to make someone sensitive to or aware of something.

City Government of Lecco

Comune can refer to the city, the city government, or the town hall building (though the building can also be called the municipio).

Want my [parking] place? Take my handicap!

Note the use of the English word. A handicapped person is called un portatore di handicap or (less PC)handicappato. The h is usually not pronounced.

stoppanimori

“In this place where Engineer Edoardo Stoppani accidentally died, His son Eugenio to the eternal memory of his defunct parent, Erected this refuge 1905” – note use of the passato remoto (remote past tense), rarely used in everyday speech anymore, at least in northern Italy. A rifugio is a mountain refuge to give shelter to hikers.

 

Smoke hurts/is bad for you.
Better not to smoke.
That’s good for everybody.

sign in a restaurant in Intra (or thereabouts)

il fumo fa male

salviamo la costituzione

^ Committee “Save the Constitution Born from the Resistance” (members of a parade on April 25th, Italy’s Liberation Day)

ricchi snob

^ “Rich snobs [who] pretend to be pop artists.” A comment added to wall graffiti, presumably by real pop artists.

lanimaleabb

The Abandoned Animal

Two big eyes, an infinite sadness
Hunger, thirst, the will to live!
After the past, they took away his future,
But he’s there to love you again, ever more, that’s sure,
He speaks to you in silence, he asks you for a hand
And you, dear friend, why do you look away?

Eva Bertolini

This sign sits in a piazza in Lecco.

learn italian in signs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Learn Italian in Song: I Watussi

One of the most popular songs of all time in Italy, written and recorded by Edoardo Vianello. Outside of Italy, the lyrics don’t stand up to today’s politically-correct scrutiny, but keep in mind that, when this first came out in 1963, Americans were dancing "The Watusi," and it was still okay to call black people Read More…

One of the most popular songs of all time in Italy, written and recorded by Edoardo Vianello. Outside of Italy, the lyrics don’t stand up to today’s politically-correct scrutiny, but keep in mind that, when this first came out in 1963, Americans were dancing "The Watusi," and it was still okay to call black people (er, African-Americans) "negroes".

 

 
Nel continente nero,   In the black continent  
alle falde del Kilimangiaro,   at the slopes of Kilimanjaro  
ci sta un popolo di negri   There’s a population of negroes  
che ha inventato tanti balli   who have invented many dances  
il più famoso è l’hully gully, hully gully hully guuu…   the most famous is the hully-gully  
       
ritornello:   refrain:  
Siamo i Watussi, siamo i Watussi,   We’re the Watusi, we’re the Watusi,  
gli altissimi negri,   the very tall negroes  
ogni tre passi, ogni tre passi,   every three steps, every three steps  
facciamo sei metri.   we make six meters.  
       
Noi siamo quelli che nell’Equatore   We are those who on the Equator  
vediamo per primi la luce del sole   see the light of the sun first  
siamo i Watussi.   we’re the Watusi.  
Siamo i Watussi, siamo i Watussi,   We’re the Watusi, we’re the Watusi,  
gli altissimi negri,   the very tall negroes  
quello più basso, quello più basso,   The shortest [of us]…  
è alto due metri.   is two meters tall  
Qui ci scambiamo l’amore profondo   Here we exchange profound love  
dandoci i baci più alti del mondo   giving each other the highest kisses in the world  
siamo i Watussi.   we’re the Watusi  
Alle giraffe guardiamo negli occhi,   We look giraffes in the eye  
agli elefanti parliamo negli orecchi,   We talk to elephants in their ears  
se non credete venite quaggiù,   If you don’t believe, come down here  
venite venite quaggiù…   come, come down here.  
       
Ogni capanna del nostro villaggio   Every hut in our village  
ha perlomeno tre metri di raggio   is at least three meters in diameter  
siamo i Watussi.   we’re the Watusi.  
       
Quando le donne stringiamo sul cuore   When we hug the women to our hearts  
noi con le stelle parliamo d’amore   we talk with the stars of love  
siamo i Watussi.   we’re the Watusi.  

Learn Italian in Song: Volare

To Fly The original, as sung by Domenico Modugno fifty years ago at the Eurovision song contest. The Dean Martin version is far from a literal translation. I have trouble hearing this song without picturing Ricardo Montalbano singing about a car with "rrrrrich Corrrinthian leather."     Penso che un sogno così non ritorni mai Read More…

To Fly

The original, as sung by Domenico Modugno fifty years ago at the Eurovision song contest. The Dean Martin version is far from a literal translation. I have trouble hearing this song without picturing Ricardo Montalbano singing about a car with "rrrrrich Corrrinthian leather."

 

 
Penso che un sogno così non ritorni mai più:   I think a dream like this can never return again:  
mi dipingevo le mani e la faccia di blu,   I painted my hands and face blue  
poi d’improvviso venivo dal vento rapito   Then suddenly I was swept away by the wind  
e incominciavo a volare nel cielo infinito…   and I began to fly in the infinite sky…  
Volare… oh, oh!…   To fly…  
cantare… oh, oh, oh, oh!   to sing…  
nel blu, dipinto di blu,   In the blue, painted blue,  
felice di stare lassù.   happy to stay up here.  
E volavo volavo felice più in alto del sole ed ancora più su,   And I flew, I flew, happy, higher than the sun and higher still,  
mentre il mondo pian piano spariva lontano laggiù,   while the world slowly disappeared far away down there,  
una musica dolce suonava soltanto per me…   a swee music played only for me  
Volare… oh, oh!…   To fly…  
   
Ma tutti sogni nell’alba svaniscon perché,   But all dreams vanish in the dawn because  
quando tramonta, la luna li porta con sé,   when it sets, the moon takes them away with it  
Ma io continuo a sognare negli occhi tuoi belli,   But I keep dreaming in your beautiful eyes  
che sono blu come un cielo trapunto di stelle.   which are blue as a sky studded with stars  
Volare… oh, oh!…   To fly…  
cantare… oh, oh, oh, oh!   to sing…  
nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu,   In the blue of your blue eyes  
felice di stare quaggiù.   Happy to stay down here.  
       
E continuo a volare felice più in alto del sole ed ancora più su,   And I continue to fly happily, higher than the sun and higher still,  
mentre il mondo pian piano scompare negli occhi tuoi blu,   While the world slowly disappears into your blue eyes  
la tua voce è una musica dolce che suona per me…   Your voice is a sweet music that plays for me…  
Volare… oh, oh!…   To fly…  
cantare… oh, oh, oh, oh!   to sing…  
nel blu degli occhi tuoi blu,   In the blue of your blue eyes,  
felice di stare quaggiù.   happy to stay down here  
con te!   with you!  

Learn Italian in Signs: E’ Stato Bello

^ above: This restaurant in Lecco was named Malpensata: “badly thought of” or “badly thought out.” Apparently either or both was the case – it’s for sale. ^ “BHW mortage, the German mortgage that protects your house. BHW: The German bank specialized in home mortgages at fixed interest rates.” Pastore tedesco = German shepherd Interesting Read More…

^ above: This restaurant in Lecco was named Malpensata: “badly thought of” or “badly thought out.” Apparently either or both was the case – it’s for sale.

Mutuo BHW

^ “BHW mortage, the German mortgage that protects your house. BHW: The German bank specialized in home mortgages at fixed interest rates.”

Pastore tedesco = German shepherd

Interesting that Germanness is assumed to equate with reliability.

“McDead”

The newsstand has definitively closed.

We thank everyone.

It’s been beautiful.