Monday
Nov102008

mangia e vesti

Mangia quello che piace a te, vesti come piace agli altri.

Eat what you like, wear what others like.

Pretty self-explanatory. Good advice I'd say! This one comes from tutorino staff member Luisa's mom from Veneto. Grammatically it's a good reminder of the imperatives (command form) - mangia and vesti. Ciao for now!

Sunday
Nov022008

a chi non beve birra

A chi non beve birra, Dio neghi anche l'acqua.

May whoever doesn't drink beer be denied by God water also.

I got this proverb from Massimiliano at a party last night - grazie Max!

As he explained it the significato is, there's something fishy about a guy who doesn't have a beer with his friends, so may God deny him water too!

Grammatically it's worth pointing out that "neghi" is a congiuntivo (subjunctive), which is why we use the English "may he be denied" to translate. We're expressing a desire that someone be denied, not stating a fact. Ciao for now!

Sunday
Oct052008

pancia e coscienza

Today's proverb is a little on the cryptic side, just two words...

Pancia e coscienza.

That's it!

"Belly and conscience."

The two most important things in life. In other words, look out for Number 1 (satisfy your own needs and desires, as represented by la pancia), but don't step on Number 2 in the process (listen to your coscienza).

Some people focus too much on la coscienza. They're too nice for their own good and get trampled on, missing out on much that life has to offer.

Others (probably the majority, in the developed world anyway) focus too much on la pancia. The rough shape our environment's in, social injustice and geopolitical instability are the results.

But when the two are balanced - pancia with coscienza, coscienza with pancia - then you have a Golden Age.

Grammatically it's a good reminder that "e" means "and" - belly and conscience - whereas "è" means "is" - belly is conscience, a whole other proverb!

That's a lot of wisdom in just three words...C4N!

Saturday
Sep202008

dove c'è gusto

Dove c'è gusto non c'è perdenza.

Literally, "Where there is enjoyment there is no loss." The idea being that the enjoyment of something (e.g. a sport, hobby, etc.) is its own reward regardless of whether it leads to money, success, fame etc.

Not a whole lot of grammar here other than c'è (there is) - which in the plural becomes ci sono (there are). C4N! 

Friday
Aug222008

la fortuna

La fortuna aiuta gli audaci.

This is the Italian version of a Latin proverb meaning, "Fortune favours the bold." So let's be bold!

Grammatically it's a good reminder that the masculine plural definite article ("the") for nouns that start with a vowel is "gli." Ciao for now!

Sunday
Jul132008

a caval donato

A caval donato non si guarda in bocca.

You don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

We all know the meaning of this proverb - just be grateful for gifts you receive without questioning their worth. Grammatically it's a good example of the impersonal si - "non si guarda." Ciao for now!

Wednesday
Jun112008

chi non spende

Chi non spende non vende.

You need to spend money to make money. (Just make sure you make more than you spend!)

Grammatically this proverb is a great reminder of the -ere verbs: spendere - spendo, spendi, spende. Vendere - vendo, vendi, vende.

In terms of vocab spendere (to spend) is easy enough. For vendere (to sell) - just think "vending machine."

Ciao for now!

Wednesday
May282008

la madre degli imbecili

La madre degli imbecili è sempre incinta.

"The mother of imbeciles is always pregnant." The idea here is that there's no short supply if idiots in the world.

Grammatically this Italian proverb is a good reminder of the agreement between nouns and adjectives - "madre incinta." The adjective ends in "a" because it refers to the feminine singular noun "madre." C4N!

Thursday
May222008

l'occhio del padrone

L'occhio del padrone ingrassa il cavallo.

The master's eye fattens the horse.

I guess loose English equivalents of this could be, "When the cat's away the mice will play," or, "If you want something done right do it yourself."

The idea is that when the owner's around, the staff will take care of the horse and he'll get fat, otherwise no.

Grammatically it's a good -are reminder (ingrassare - ingrassa) and definite article reminder (il cavallo). C4N!

Monday
May122008

il diavolo

Il diavolo fa le pentole ma non i coperchi.

The devil makes the pots but not the lids to cover them up.

The basic meaning of this proverb is, "The truth will prevail." If you get up to no good people will sooner or later find out, just like if you cook in a pot with no lid, people will see what you're cooking.

Grammatically we have a good reminder of the irregular verb "fare" - il diavolo fa. C4N!

Tuesday
Apr152008

mondo a scale

Questo mondo è fatto a scale, chi le scende e chi le sale.

The world is a ladder - some are coming down and some are going up.

The down and up here refer to people's fortunes - the good and bad things that happen in love, money, health, etc.

Grammatically it's a great reminder of the direct object pronoun "le", referring to "scale" and placed of course before the verb. C4N!

Wednesday
Apr022008

il mondo

Il mondo è bello perché è vario.

Variety is the spice of life.

Grammatically you get an essere reminder (è) and a definite article reminder (il).

It's also interesting to point out that what Italian does with an adjective (vario), English does with either a noun (variety) or a verb (to vary). In everyday use the adjective "various" isn't always quite the same as "vario." (Although you could say, "Per vari motivi" - "for various reasons.")

In other words a more literal tranlsation of today's proverb might be, "The world is nice because it varies," or, "The world is nice because of its variety," but not, "The world is nice because it's various."

 C4N!

Wednesday
Mar262008

pane di governo

Pane di governo, pane eterno. (Also: Pan di governo, pan eterno.)

Translation: You can't beat a government job. (Literally, "Government bread, eternal bread.") It might also refer to pensions, social assistance, not sure.

Grammatically a great reminder that "di" is the Italian preposition showing possession. C4N!

Wednesday
Mar122008

che la dura

Chi la dura la vince.

A proverb in praise of persistence. (He who holds out wins.) A great grammatical reminder that object pronouns ("la") go before the conjugated verb in Italian. Ciao for now!

Saturday
Feb232008

la costanza

A goccia a goccia, si scava la roccia.

This proverb means that drop by drop water can carve through rock. In other words, slow and steady wins the race, a tribute to constancy. Great reminder of the impersonal si - si scava. Ciao for now!

Monday
Feb182008

fortuna

Vento, tempo, donne e fortuna - prima voltano e poi tornano, come la luna.

Wind, time, women and luck - first they turn away and then they come back, like the moon.

Beh, there's not much grammar for you in this one, just the -are verbs. C4N!

Tuesday
Jan292008

l'apparenza

L'apparenza inganna.

Looks can be deceiving.

A great -are verb reminder (ingannare) and definite article review (l' before singular nouns that start with a vowel). C4N!

Saturday
Jan192008

il passo

Che nessuno faccia il passo più lungo della gamba.

"Let no one take a step that's longer than his stride." This proverb actually comes from Horace! 

(Don't bite off more than you can chew.) A cautious reminder not to attempt what exceeds your capacities.

Grammatically we get a reminder that when comparing two nouns (passo and gamba) with regards to a single quality (lungo), we use "di" to say "than," not "che." C4N!

Sunday
Jan132008

lupo

Lupo non mangia lupo.

"Wolves do not eat wolves." Or for an English equivalent, "Honour among thieves."

The idea being however bad someone is (a wolf or a thief), there are some acts even he won't do, especially to others of his kind.

Grammatically you get a useful reminder of negations in Italian - just place "non" before the conjugated verb ("non mangia"). C4N!

Sunday
Jan062008

anno nuovo

Anno nuovo, vita nuova.

New year, new life. An expression of the belief that with a new year comes a chance for a new beginning, a fresh start.

Grammatically you get another nice agreement reminder - nuovo with anno but nuova with vita. C4N!