A (Brief) Italian Lesson: Amici Più Falsi di Così….

I am translating/reposting (without her permission, so I hope she doesn’t feel the need to send any of her “friends” to pay me a visit; she lives in Florence, after all) Laura Prandino’s amusing post “ma inaugura tua nonna!” from her LaPra blog. In it, she objects to Italian journalists’ calque translation of “inauguration” with the word “inaugurazione,” which has another meaning entirely.

Unveil This!

Two random dictionaries, one on CD and one online. The definition of “inauguration”:

* Ragazzini/Zingarelli2008 (CD-Rom)
1 insediamento: (USA) the President’s inauguration, l’insediamento del Presidente
2 inaugurazione: (USA) Inauguration Day, il giorno dell’insediamento del nuovo Presidente (January 20).

* Picchi/Hoepli online

1 inaugurazione, apertura
2 insediamento
inauguration ceremony cerimonia d’insediamento; Inauguration Day (US) giorno dell’insediamento del Presidente; the presidential inauguration l’insediamento del presidente; his inauguration as President will take place next week il suo insediamento come presidente avrà luogo la settimana prossima.

[To which I would add, just for the sake of clarity for Anglophones, the English definition of inaugurazione:

“nf opening; unveiling, ribbon-cutting (ceremony): l’inaugurazione di una casa a house-warming; l’inaugurazione del nuovo teatro the opening of the new theatre; l’inaugurazione di una statua the unveiling of a statue; l’inaugurazione di un albergo to open a hotel; to cut the ribbon on a new hotel; l’inaugurazione di una chiesa the consecration of a church.”

Now, back to Laura:]

It’s not difficult.

In Italian, a president si insedia. Inauguration for Americans. Insediamentofor Italians. Simply and painless.

So why is it that all the TV news programs I’ve been listening to insist upon treating Barack Obama as though he were a sports complex, with lots of ribbons to be cut; mayors decked out in red, white, and green sashes; and bishops dispensing blessings? (The question of why the opening of a sports complex should require the presence of bishops who dispense blessings deserves a much longer conversation; for the moment, let’s just let it slide.)


I love stuff like this — and probably for all the wrong reasons. First, because it relieves me to learn that the Italian language is going to hell in a handbasket just like English and, second, because I appreciate knowing that there are members of the “Lynne Truss Santa Subito” Fan Club in Italy, too. And also because I firmly believe in the lex talionis, which some people think means “The law of retaliation” (an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth), but which actually means, “If you don’t stop treating words so badly, I’m going to poke you in the eye with a talon.”


Posted on 20 November 2008, in Italy, Italian, Italians (in that order), Write ... che ti passa and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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