Gli Stranieri

A Foreigner in Rome

Category: Language

Word(s) of the Day: Il and Lo

This is not strictly about the words il and lo themselves. In an everyday context they are simple articles, generally meaning ‘it’ or ‘the’. However, I learnt today that if two people are walking together, one tall, one short, you can say ‘articolo il‘. As there is a little person (an ‘i’) and a tall person (an ‘l’). To say ‘articolo lo‘, then, has a guessable meaning: a tall ‘l’ and a short, fat ‘o’.

I love this pair of phrases, and wish there was an English equivalent. If, on the off-chance, a little person is walking alongside a person with their arms sticking outwards, I could say ‘ha! article it’. Might be waiting for a while. And would probably keep it to myself as well.


Word of the Day: Pigro

I have got a bit lazy with keeping up-to-date with this, which leads me to making this interim post.

It is surely crucial to know how to describe oneself in another language. Alas, this is where I picked up pigro: lazy. I am also particularly taken with it because it reminds me of a pig rolling around, and never quite making it onto their feet. Not because I regularly find myself in that state of lethargy or anything.

Word of the Day: Scarpetta

The literal meaning of una scarpetta is nothing special – a little shoe.

All well and good, but what is better is fare la scarpetta (do the little shoe). In this sense it means to clean your plate with a bit of bread: sinking it into leftover sauce – presumably like a little shoe disappearing in the mud.

Not the most saliva-inducing imagery, nor is bread what I immediately think of having after a massive pasta dinner. But the sauce is always worth bloating a bit more for and it feels criminal to waste even a dribble.

It is fun, too, to traipse around one’s plate with child-like abandon. Like jumping in puddles, but at the comfort of the dining table.

Word(s) of the Day: Genitori vs Genitali

I was wising up on my falso amici [fake friends], when I discovered this confusing state of affairs:

Genitori means parents. Genitali  means genitals.

As there’s not much chance of having one without the other, I suppose the similarity does make sense…

Maybe I am getting ahead myself, with my inability to even form simple sentences yet, but what if I accidentally ask someone how their genitali are doing?

An imminent self-fulfilling prophecy, I fear.

Vocabolario 2

Same drill as last time, except I’m attaching common nouns to weekdays. After my food shopping debacle, no prizes for guessing where I’m focussing my next set of vocabulary. I’ve gone for the harder-to-guess ones (mainly for my own benefit):

Lunedì – una mela [an apple]

Martedì – un’arancia [an orange]

Mercoledì – un pomodoro [a tomato]

Giovedì – formaggio [cheese]

Venerdì – acciughe [anchovies]

Sabato – uova [eggs]

Dominico – una cippola [an onion]

My host is taking me to the Saturday market this weekend, where the Romans get their week’s shopping at discounted prices. I’m very fed up of being the point-and-nod consumer, so I’m determined to be a confident grocery-purchaser by then. Here’s hoping!

Word of the Day: Uno Struzzo

Ever discover a word that changed your perception of something?

Well I, thrill-seeker that I am, was preparing for a trip to the zoo by playing an Italian animal wordsearch, and I came across this little delight.

Uno Struzzo is an ostrich.

Now I just can’t shake the image of them strutting down imaginary catwalks like feathered-Amazonians.

Word of the Day: Fastidioso

The Italians have cottoned on to something here:

it means annoying – not fastidious.

At least if I ever have to plough through millions of CVs, I’ll be able to spot those fastidioso bastards a mile off.