Italian language: Let the sunshine in!

Sep 15, 2018 596

Summer is about to end, so I thought: “What about some sun to celebrate this beautiful and sunny season?” - Also, as a hope to see it for a little while longer! So, that’s it. This month is all about the sole! Italy has always had a very strong and particular relationship with the sun due to its sunny weather that influences its people and atmosphere – it is no coincidence that one of Italy’s most known song is “’O Sole Mio” – but what’s the relationship between the sun and the Italian language? Let’s find out together!

What a better start than c’è un sole che spacca le pietre – it’s so sunny it breaks the rocks – of course meaning that it is a very very sunny day, but also incredibly hot, so hot that the heat could break stones in half. This expression describes Summers in Italy pretty well. It is also used even to simply describe a nice and sunny day, so you’ll have to pick up cues from the context. This expression is believed to come from an ancient mining method that relied on a heat source like fire alternated with cold water to easily break rocks. What I’m trying to say is that, there’s a science behind it. So it’s true. But if that expression is based on science, I am not sure that this proverb is: non c’è sabato senza sole, non c’è donna senza amore – there’s no Saturday without sun, there’s no woman without love – meaning that it’s always sunny on weekends and women are always full of love. I am not a cynical person, but for the past few Summers it has been sunny all week and rainy almost every weekend…so that’s clearly someone that tried to “sell us the July sun.”

Wait, what?

And our next one is indeed vendere il sole di luglio – to sell the July sun – used to indicate some kind of fraud, someone that is fooling you, because, let’s be honest, if someone is trying to sell you something you already have for free and in abundance…well, they’re ripping you off. Another use of it is when referring to a situation where someone is telling you some kind of lie or fake news while knowing it is false, as if they are trying to “sell” an idea as something great when they already know it’s a failure or that it is something that was already accomplished by someone else. Well, it all goes back to fooling the other. In addition, niente di nuovo sotto il sole – nothing new under the sun – meaning: not something new. You can find the same expression but in Latin in the Bible nihil sub sole novum. It is used to remind the other speaker that there are not many new ideas, concepts, or actual things, in this world, to point out the repetitiveness of the situation or that it is in fact a given. The shortened version of this expression, sotto il sole – under the sun – it is commonly used as a synonym to “in the world” “on Earth” because the sun is above everything on this planet, so…

To keep going with the July sun, we have farsi bello del sole di luglio – primping with the July sun – or the variation farsi onor del sol di luglio – to take the credit of the July sun – which is used when you brag about others’ success as if they were your own, taking credit for it as if the shining and heat of the July sun was all because of you. Then you can girare come il sole – to turn like the sun – and no, you are not a sunflower, but you are a restless person, who cannot keep still. It’s used in a more positive sense for those who travel all year around – so jealous! – or move very frequently. You can also say girare come un girasole – to turn like a sunflower – because, well, the sunflower moves exactly like the sun so in this sense they are synonyms, right?

And maybe if you turn like the sun you don’t avere qualcosa al sole – have something under the sun – because I doubt if you move a lot you’ll own a lot of properties, real estate, and fields.  But you probably are close enough to losing all the things you have under the sun if you go to see the sun checkered – andare a vedere il sole a scacchi – because that’s how you see it from behind the bars of your cell. In fact, andare a vedere il sole a scacchi means to go to jail.

On a more positive note we have bello come il sole – beautiful like the sun – usually used for incredibly handsome men like Raul Bova if you like. Then we have the controversy between two expressions. One says il sole bacia il belli – the sun kisses the beautiful ones – and the other one says il sole bacia I brutti perchè i belli son baciati da tutti – the sun kisses the ugly ones because everyone kisses the beautiful ones. Those two expressions are used when the sun is in your face and it’s kind of annoying as well to mainly “justify” the reason why the sun is being so annoying, but as you can see you can use whichever of the two in your favor. 

Well, what can I say? I hope that all this “sun talk” will make your summer last longer. But anyway, always let the sun into your life!

delivered by Italian School NJ


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