Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Short Cuts to Learning Italian - In a Hurry

(A post motivated by my tardy behaviour with Italian language learning tapes. I have done my best but time grows short)

Lets face it.  Italy does not have a tradition of being an efficient place.  At least not since the early Imperial times.  Things happen.....ah, when they happen.

So it is a surprise to me that the Italian language seems to be overstocked with synonyms for "now" and "hurry".

Hurry can be expressed as sbrigarsi, or spedire in fretta, or maybe even as urgenza.

Now can be rendered in all sorts of ways.  In what I think is descending order of urgenza it could be:

immediatemente - obvious meaning there
rapidimente - with haste
subito - at once
atualmente - presently
allora - well, in that case...

Missing from the list are a couple of words that are certainly Italian that have picked up new meaning when sliding over into English.

Pronto - In English this is a rather peremptory command.  "Clean up that mess pronto, young man". In Italian pronto just means "ready".  In Italy I think a lot of things are pronto, ready to go but just not happening today.  Tomorrow does not look good either. Pronto is also the word Italians speak when they answer the phone.  But don't assume that when you call a Governmental agency in Italy that when they pick up and say "Pronto", that they actually will do anything quickly.  Or at all.

Presto - In English this is basically a magical incantation.  "Presto, Chango!" means I wave my hands and it happens.  Alas, in Italian presto just means....soon.  Could be any time really.


Coronel Sakura said...

Hello! About the use of the word in English it may come from Spanish as in this language Pronto means soon, early, hastily, quick and so on. It is actually the only language that features this word and has that meaning. In Portuguese you say Pronto with the meaning Ready as for Soon, early etc. they say Cedo and for quick, fast they say Rápido or Despachado which is obviously a French importation. Cherio!

Tacitus2 said...

Interesting. When trying to pick up a functional level of Italian I can still think in English and remember what smatterings of Spanish and French I have acquired in my travels. But I have to toggle off German entirely....totally different structure.

Ciao a tutti !