How to Sound Like an Italian, Miss Expatria Style

As promised, I’m including some phrases one should know when one visits God’s living room, also known as Italy.

This has been a favorite obsession of mine ever since I was in Rome in 2001 with Pavlov Memento, the ex. We had just finished dinner and were walking down via Cavour, when we passed a knot of Americans who mentioned a town very close to where we were living back in the States.

Pavlov, being Pavlov, stopped and spoke to them. During the course of our conversation, one of the women complained about the gelato shop they had just come from. She said the kids behind the counter were rude, and pretended not to know what she was saying when she was talking to them.

After some cursory questions, we ascertained that she had in fact been speaking plain old English to them, and these high school-age kids had no idea what she was saying. I suggested, as kindly as I possibly could, that maybe she would be better off learning some basic phrases to make her time in Italy a bit easier.

“I can’t be expected to learn the language of every country I visit,” was her verbatim reply.

Sigh. Grit teeth. Smile. Walk away.

No one is expecting you to learn THEIR ENTIRE LANGUAGE when you’re visiting a country. While you’re snapping a photo of the wife and kids in front of a famous monument, a native of that country will not run up to you and ask you to discuss political theory. Your waiter does not want to know your opinion on stem cell research. You will not need to sing the national anthem, sign formal documents, or conduct any business there.

They just want to see that you have an ounce of respect for the fact that you’re on their turf.

OK OK, enough ranting. Here are the key phrases you should know when visiting Italy. I’ve included the very basics here – the vocabulary you will need to look up yourself. The information is found in a phrasebook you can buy for about seven bucks, or the back cover of your guidebook.

As I said yesterday, learning these things will take you about an hour and will go a long way toward having a better experience.

Ms. Pants, I’m not yelling at you! You have the Gay Mafia’s full endorsement.

Here we go. These might be a little different than you read in your guidebook that’ because they’re REAL.Oh, and I did not bother with accent marks, because frankly I don’t know how to do that on my Mac.

Where is…/Dove…/DOE-vay
Do you have…/Lei c’e l’ha…/lay-tchay-la
Can I…/Posso…/POH-so
I would like…/Vorrei…/voh-RAY
Help!/Aiuto!/eye-YOU-toe
This is delicious./E’ squisito./ay (as in bay)-squee-ZEE-toe
Hello. (til after lunch)/Buon giorno./bwone-joor-no
Hello. (rest of day)/Buona sera./bwone-ah-say-rah
Have a good day!/Buona gionata!/bwone-ah-joor-nah-tah
Good night./Buona serata./bwona-ah-say-rah-tah
Fabulous!/Favolosa!/fah-voh-low-zah
I’m in love with this./Sono immaorata di questo qua/ so-no-een-ahm-more-AH-ta-dee-quay-stow-kwa
Thank you./Grazie./grahtz-yay
You’re so nice./Lei e’ molto gentile./lay-ay-mole-toe-jen-teal-ay
I’m not crazy about this./Non mi fa impazzire./known-me-fahm-pahtz-ee-ray
Sorry./Mi dispiace./me-deess-pyotch-ay
Excuse me (interrupting)/Mi scusi/me-skooz-ee
Excuse me (to pass)/Permesso/pair-mess-oh
Does this go to…/Questo va a…/quayss-toe-va-ah
Please/Per favore/pair-fah-vor-ay
Check please?/Il conto, per favore?/eel-cone-toe-pair-fah-vor-ay
I’m just looking./Sto solo guardando./stow-so-low-gwar-dahn-doe
I’m looking for…./Sto cercando…/stow-chair-CAHN-doe

Tomorrow, we’ll go over some customs, and a quick lesson in how to be rude AND charming.

One thought on “How to Sound Like an Italian, Miss Expatria Style

  1. Pingback: Italian Pronunciation - It’s All In The Vowels « Miss Expatria

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