Italian Language Blog

Piccante Piccante Posted by on Aug 15, 2011 in Italian Language

A few days ago I was doing a bit of shopping in our local supermercato when I spotted some nice looking cheese in offerta (on offer): Pecorino Piccante 11,90 euro al chilo – spicy hot pecorino 11.90 euros a kilo.

“Com’è questo formaggio?” – “what’s this cheese like?” I asked one of the ladies at the cheese counter

“Piccante piccante!” – “very hot” she replied, prompting Geoff to remark “ma sull’etichetta dice solo piccante, invece ci dici che è piccante piccante!” – “but on the label it only say hot, however you’re telling us that it’s hot hot!”

Luckily the people in the supermarket know us well enough to appreciate Geoff’s ‘English humour’.

Later, Geoff remarked upon the Italian passion for repetition as a means of reinforcing certain qualities. It would seem more correct, and perhaps even more typically Italian to a foreigner if we said piccantissimo, or molto piccante. And yet piccante piccante seems to express the hotness of the cheese much better. Let’s have a look at some of the ways in which we use repetitions as a form of emphasis here in Italy:

Ascoltando ogni giorno un po’ d’italiano piano piano sto migliorando – listening to a bit of Italian every day I’m gradually improving. Piano piano, often shortened to pian piano, or pian pianino is used very frequently in conversation. In this case the repetition of piano gives a sense of something happening gradually, and is preferred over pianissimo

Annalisa ha trovato un gattino piccino piccino – Annalisa found a little tiny kitten. Piccino piccino seems to describe both the smallnes of the cat, and perhaps even its cuteness. It would be expressed with a lot of affection or tenderness.

Quel cane ha bisogno di tanto tanto affetto – that dog needs loads of affection

Marco ha mangiato un gelato grande grande – Marco ate a really huge ice cream

Mi sento debole debole – I feel extremely weak

Quando siamo andati al circo abbiamo visto un uomo forte forte che ha sollevato una signora con una mano sola! – when we went to the circus we saw a really strong man who lifted up a lady with just one hand!

Giovanna quando lavora è precisa precisa – Giovanna is extremely precise in her work

È stato veloce veloce a finire il lavoro – he finished the work very quickly.

Let’s leave the last word to one of national poets: Jovanotti. Click on the link below

Tanto Tanto Tanto

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  1. Andrew:

    Molto interessante, Serena.

    Grazie grazie

  2. Gail:

    Grazie per la spiegazione di questa sfumatura ed anche per la canzone di Jovanotti. Non l’ho mai sentita prima. A me piace tanto tanto.

  3. Allan Mahnke:

    Tante tante grazie!!!

  4. dariush:

    i like learn italy but i coudnot find any sound or mp3 file for checking prononcition
    pls guide me


    • Serena:

      @dariush Salve Dariush, you might like to have a look at this link:
      Your best option however is to try and find an Italian class run by a native speaker of Italian. Which part of the world do you live in, and what is your mother tongue?

      Saluti da Serena

  5. Tina:

    Grazie per il tuo blog! Mi piace la canzone molto ma non capisco la significa essatamente. Posso tradurre le parole ma che significa quando dice, “tanto, tanto, tanto?” He’s not merely saying a lot, a lot, a lot, I know it’s more meaningful than that! Please help! Grazie!

  6. Lynne:

    Just thought that the following might be better translated as “On Sale”
    in offerta (on offer)

    • Geoff:

      @Lynne Ciao Lynne ‘on offer’ is a more accurate translation for something that is ‘in offerta’ i.e. an item that has had it’s price reduced as a kind of promotion.
      We use the word ‘saldi’ or ‘svendita’ when stuff is ‘on sale’, e.g. end of season clothing, food that is nearing it’s sell by date, and so on.

      Saluti da Geoff

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