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Che Culo!!! Posted by on Oct 30, 2017 in Culture, Italian Language

It’s interesting, and rather amusing, that an article about a cultural visit to Parma should generate so much controversy about bottoms! Well, let’s put that controversy to rest shall we?

But first, a word of advice dear readers. I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: don’t get hung up on literal translation, especially when dealing with colloquial expressions, va bene?

Now, we feel that it’s very important to introduce you to everyday colloquial Italian, in fact we believe that it’s something that makes our blog quite unique. Therefore, when we write articles that contain conversation, such as our recent series Una Gita Culturale, we always include a smattering of expressions that we know you won’t hear in language classes or find in standard textbooks.

Part 2 of our series, Una Gita Culturale – Part 2., included two such expressions: che culo and che palle. Let’s begin with the former, and take another look at how it appeared in the article.

“Che culo! E’  bravissima questa guida” dice Geoff agli altri.
“How lucky! She’s really good this guide” Geoff says to the others.

Bottoms … we all have one, they come in all shapes and sizes, and can be very beautiful or quite embarrassing. They can also, according to this common Italian expression, be lucky!

How to conjugate your bottom:

Infinitive
avere culo = to be lucky

Present
io ho culo, tu hai culo, lui/lei ha culo, ecc. …. = I am lucky, etc, ….

Present Perfect
io ho avuto culo, tu hai avuto culo, lui/lei ha avuto culo, ecc. …. = I was lucky, etc ….

Imperfect Subjunctive
se io avessi, se tu avvessi culo, se lui/lei avvesse culo, ecc. …. = if I were lucky, etc.

Historical Past
io ebbi culo, tu avesti culo, lui/lei ebbe culo, ecc. …. = I was lucky, etc.

Exclamation
che culo! = what luck!

There, now you can talk about backsides in an educated manner!

But just to convince the sceptics amongst you that non siamo degli scemi, let’s turn to the authorities:

Vocabolario Treccani
culo s. m. [lat. culus], pop. – 1. La parte posteriore e più carnosa del corpo umano (ma riferito talora anche ad animali), comunem. indicata con termini eufemistici o più dotti o comunque meno crudi, come sedere, didietro, deretano. Il termine è di uso com. in espressioni fig., più o meno volg.: che c.! = che fortuna!; colpo, botta di c. = colpo di fortuna …… In espressioni com., con uso fig.: fare il c. a qualcuno = imbrogliarlo; dare via il c. per ottenere qualcosa = essere disposto a tutto pur di raggiungere i proprî fini; prenderlo in c., nel c. = essere imbrogliato, fregato; mandare uno a fare in c. (o a prenderlo nel c. o a dar via il c.) = mandarlo al diavolo, a quel paese. Come augurio, per antifrasi, a chi affronta una prova difficile o pericolosa: in c. alla balena!

The Oxford Italian Dictionary
culo. vulg arse; (fortuna) luck.

Warning: those of you who are offended by bottoms should read no further!

So, apart from not having an interesting colloquial expression at your disposal, what else would you miss out on if you didn’t know that che culo means ‘what luck’? Well you wouldn’t understand the following joke for a start!

Ohhh!!! Look, I’ve found a four leaf clover. What luck!!!! (obviously a play on the double meaning: ‘what luck’/’what an arse!’)

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Comments:

  1. Patricia:

    Una mia cugina a Roma usava questo termine “che culo” per descrivere qualcuno un po’ sfacciate. Puo’ darsi che essendo umbra si usi “culo” cosi’.

  2. Jill Payne:

    Serena, maybe you should have chosen the photo – un uomo e non e una donna!

  3. Andrei:

    Ciao. Grazie mille per il blog. È impossibile cinoscere la lingua e usarla bene senza espressioni come queste Saluti da Andrei

  4. jnchkim:

    Congiuntivo Imperfetto

    “se lui/lei ‘avessi’ culo” e’ tipo ? non e’ avesse ?

    • Geoff:

      @jnchkim Thanks for pointing out the typo. Corrected!

      A presto 🙂


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