Learn Italian in Song: La Terra dei Cachi

The Land of Persimmons

By Elio e le Storie Tese, who also did Fossi Figo. This song was a huge hit when it first came out in 1996, with its punning, ironic references to topics such as Mani Pulite and various hospital scandals. (Pity not much has changed since… )

I don’t know if cachi (persimmons) has any special significance, unless it’s a pun on caca (poop).

Learn Italian in Song: Parco Sempione

Sempione Park

Another piece of dark humor from Elio e le Storie Tese, which also follows in the eco-aware tradition of Il Ragazzo della via Gluck – and, like that song, is inspired by Milan, environmentally one of the worst places to live in Italy.

Learn Italian in Song: First Me, Second Me

This song is an interesting challenge. It was pointed out to me by Rocco Tanica, songwriter and keyboardist with Elio e le Storie Tese, as “a song we wrote to make a joke about Italians pretending to speak English (just like me) with a literal translation of the Italian words (example, quanti anni hai? = “how many years you have” instead of “how old are you”).”
FIRST ME.
I would like to writing and singing a song in english,
tongue that I’ve studied at the medium school. In Italian lingua is used for “tongue” both in the sense of the one in your mouth and one that you speak. Which is also true in English, but “tongue” for “language” is somewhat archaic these days. Medium = media, which is also used for middle school (scuola media).
I’d surely find the way to recreate the original sound
of the wonderful Beatles english.
I would pick up a girl and
– thank you to the original sound of the wonderful Beatles english –
I would conquer her, In Italian conquistare is used (also) in the context of a romantic conquest.
I would marry her and together we will farrow so many much childs. They were thinking of the Italian word sgravare (roughly: “de-pregnantize”), which is used for the act of giving birth but (at least in polite company) only when referring to animals. Farrow is the English word used for sows giving birth to piglets. And of course a classic mistake on the irregular plural of “child”.
So we would live until the late age (her), i.e., she will live to a tarda eta’ (“advanced age”), while the speaker, being immortal…
while I would never die just like Highlander;
but not like Sean Connery, better like Christopher Lambert:
young through the centuries but without cut the head.
So every night I dream my unrealizable, unreasonable,
unrecognizable, unjamestaylorable, unstatesmanlike dream come true.
This video only contains the second half of the song – sung by James Taylor! – but it very helpfully includes both the English and Italian lyrics.
SECOND ME (THE PEAK OF THE MOUNTAIN). Secondo me could literally be translated as “second me,” but it actually means “according to me”.
How you call you? How many years you have?
From where come? How stay? Come stai = “How are you?”
Not to be sad:
the life is a thing wonderful and I am here for make it wonderfuler.
Not see the my love for yourself? “The my love” because in Italian all nouns usually take an article (the, a, an). In Milan (at least), names are treated the same way, so you will hear people refer to la Paola or il Daniele.
For force, not is visible. For force = per forza, which would be better translated “perforce”
Not hear the sound of the my guitar?
Is play from me; is play for you, is play for we. A classic abuse of a preposition in suonato da me. Da would often be translated as “from” in English, but in this case it should be “by”. To be fair, prepositions are hard to get right; the usages are so different in every language.
Oui, je t’aime, je t’aime – yes -, must to be the my girl;
come on the my car that I bring you at make one tour. Another preposition confusion in vieni sulla mia macchina. In Italy you don’t ride in a car, you ride on it. Ti porto a fare un giro would be better translated as “I’ll take you for a ride”.
What think of the my car?
Is much beautiful, second me Molto can be translated as very, much, or many.

Learn Italian in Song: Fossi Figo

If I Were Hot

This piece of rude irony by Elio e le Storie Tese (Elio and the Tense Stories) is a good example of the use of the conditional tense in Italian, as well as covering some common Italian slang, and some use of English words in everyday Italian.The video features Gianni Morandi, for no apparent reason (except friendship with the band, I suppose). The subtitles are slogan-like statements about shampoo, beauty treatments, and the importance of diet and exercise in maintaining one’s looks. The final line is “It’s beautiful to be beautiful.”

The video is filmed, I think, in Milan’s Chinatown, except for the last scenes (jogging) in the Galleria and the Piazza del Duomo.