Italian Hand Gestures – Part 6

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a hand gesture video, but I’ve finally got a new one for you!

In the video, I talk about how the light quality isn’t the greatest, but then in post-production I discovered that YouTube has some new options that you can play around with to try and sort out the lighting/contrast/brightness. It’s still not perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it was at the start! Though, if anybody wants to gift me a professional HD video camera, tripod, and some lights, I wouldn’t say no. ;-)

So, here’s the vid for you guys. Learn the Italian hand gesture for “there is/are none“.


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It’s the Anus of the Dragon!

Italian is a beautiful language. It’s the poetic craft of Dante, the musical prowess of Verdi, and the finicky language where it’s all too easy to say “anus” when you really meant to say “year“.

The Italian word for “anus” is ano while the word for “year” is anno. The only thing that sets these words apart is an extra “n”. I think these two words are recklessly similar, and the problem is not just with the spelling!

The Italian language has a double consonant pronunciation where you basically hold the consonant for a fraction of a second longer than usual. So, when speaking, if you don’t hold that “n” long enough, you’re in for an embarrassing treat!

It seems like a cruel joke aimed at foreigners that one of these double consonant words just happens to be the one for “year”, doesn’t it? It’s such a commonly used word. Oh, and let’s not forget that it’s easy to say “Can you please pick up a pack of penis at the stationery store while you’re out?” Only one little “n” differentiates the word “pens” (penne) from “penis” (pene).

C’mon guys! Anus and penis are among the words that I can easily biff up in Italian? Are you kidding me?!? I mean, couldn’t we have chosen less potentially dangerous words to be the counterpart of the much more innocent ones? I feel like I’m walking around on a linguistic minefield here!

You are cordially invited to buzz the hell off

So, the Italian language has two different types of “you” – the informal one (tu) and the formal one (Lei).

  • Tu is what you say when you are talking to your friends, younger people, and other people who you know well and have a close relationship with
  • Lei is what you use when you are speaking to strangers, your elders, or people whom you want to show a certain level of respect to

Wanna know something cool? Italians have this great way of using the formal “you”, even when in the heat of a verbal dispute.

Using Lei when arguing with somebody you don’t know or who you want to show respect for even as your chewin’ them out is something that I just find so hilarious! It’s a linguistically artful way of telling somebody off while still remaining polite despite the fact that what you’re yelling may well be laced with swear words and insults.

To give you an idea of how funny this concept is (at least to a native English speaker living in Italy), here are some masterful examples of the vocalizations you might hear when people “politely argue” in Italian. Please note: to get the most out of these, you really should  envision them being said in a posh British accent.

  • Good sir, I heartily insist that you keep your !@%#ing dog’s mouth shut!
  • I should find it swell if you would stop double parking your sh!& box of a moped in front of my mother!@%#ing car!
  • Would you be so kind as to go take a good sh!& for yourself, you !@%#ing idiot!
  • Hello there, outspoken b!+ch! Please refrain from busting my !@%#ing balls!
  • It is with the utmost respect that I entreat you to go !@%# thyself … with vim and vigor, mind you!

So, the translations of what was being said in Italian are not exactly spot on, but since English doesn’t have the formal “you” there was no other way to really convey the idea. Plus, it gives me a valid excuse to use lots of bad words!

Now I won’t be the one to write down any Italian swear words here in this article, but if you guys want to leave a comment with any Italian parolacce that you may know, I certainly won’t be able to !@%#ing stop you! :-)

Italian Hand Gestures – Part 5

Ciao ragazzi! Here is a new Italian hand gesture for you to learn.

Italy is known the world over as a country with great food to eat and this video teaches you the hand gesture to say that you appreciate the local cuisine!

I filmed this video in my bed because the sun sets early here these days (being winter and all) and my apartment is really not the best in terms of lighting. I did a few test runs and my bed seemed to give the best results.

I guess we’re getting more and more intimate here on the blog! ;-)

Italian Hand Gestures – Part 4

Here’s another vlog* for you guys: the Italian hand gesture for “That is perfect! That is precise!”

* Vlog means “video-blog” in internet-dork jargon. (I recently learned that myself!) :-D

Italian Hand Gestures – Part 3

Ciao ragazzi!

The public has spoken! You guys voted on which Italian hand gesture you wanted to see next, so here it is!

(P.S. I’ve had a hoarse voice recently, so please excuse my growling … though I do think it’s a bit sexy)

Just one drink, I swear

The Italian approach to drinking alcohol is much different from the American one.

I think the fact that there is no real word for “hangover” in Italian serves to best prove my point. Italians have a way to express feeling hungover – avere i postumi di una sbronza (feel the aftereffects of having previously been drunk). However, this is a long-winded description which is necessary only because the word “hangover” itself does not exist.

It’s not that Italians forgot to invent a word for hangover back when they were drafting up ones like “spaghetti”, “bella”, and “Ferrari”, it’s just that there was never any real need for it because, well, Italians drink a heck of a lot less than Americans do!

There are definitely the times when an Italian person will have a bit too much fun at the festa and come home drunk, but:

  1. it happens much less rarely than it does in America
  2. they most likely were considerably less drunk than their American counterpart would have been
  3. they probably didn’t set out the night with the intention of getting hammered

Italians place a lot of importance on keeping up one’s good public image and singing loudly on the street at 3:00 am, stumbling out of a taxi, or ruining your designer jeans while sitting on the floor of some public bathroom as you barf up your linguine doesn’t seem to go hand-in-hand with that ideal, for some odd reason! ;-)

American Beer

When I first came to Italy, I arrived with the mentality of a good ol’ Irish-American from Boston who had graduated college not too long before, and just recently lived for 10 months in Ireland. Let’s just say that I knew how to party with the best of ‘em! My idea of going out to a bar or club meant going out with the intention of coming back home drunk as a skunk.

I would get frustrated with my Italian friends when we went out for the night and got just one drink at a bar before walking to the next bar, and then maybe not even getting anything to drink at all when we got there. I felt like “hey, you guys, are we out drinking or what?” I couldn’t understand why they weren’t up for doing double shots of whiskey and talking the bartender into making us the strongest drink humanly possible.

Birra Italiana

For Italians, a night out means being social, spending time with people, relaxing and talking, and not necessarily getting absolutely trashed. Yes, they might have a few beers along the way, yes they may have a few glasses of wine too many, but the whole idea of having a good night out doesn’t necessarily revolve around alcohol as much as it does in America.

Anybody that currently goes out with me either here in Italy or in the USA when I am back there, will testify that I can still drink a lot and get boozey, but believe me when I say that I have calmed down a good deal from what I used to drink. I think part of it is age, I mean, I’m 30 now, not 21 (or… 19), but part of it is also definitely the fact that the Italian approach towards going out and just getting one drink is starting to have its influence…. and that’s not necessarily a bad thing!