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The Sounds Of Italy Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

What noise annoys an oyster? A noisy noise annoys an oyster! This, I remember, was a popular tongue twister when I was a kid. Of course, it makes even less sense when translated into Italian: Che rumore da fastidio ad un’ostrica? Un rumore rumoroso da fastidio ad un’ostrica!

Sounds can be divided into three main categories. Let’s take a look:

Baccanale degli Andrii by Tiziano. Public Domain.

Suono = Sound

dall’altra stanza ho sentito venire il suono di risate = I heard the sound of laughter coming from the other room
poi c’era il terribile suono metallico della macchina che si schiantava contro il muro = then there was the terrible metallic sound of the car crashing against the wall
Giulia ha sentito il bellissimo suono del ruscello nel sottofondo = Giulia heard the beautiful sound of the mountain stream in the background

Rumore = Noise

di notte il rumore del traffico che passa sotto il palazzo è molto fastidioso = the noise of the traffic passing under the apartment block is really annoying at night.
durante il terremoto il rumore era terrificante! = the noise was terrifying during the earthquake!
abbiamo sentito il debole rumore di un animaletto = we heard the faint noise of a small animal

Chiasso = Racket, Din

ragazzi, smettetela di fare quel chiasso! = stop making that racket kids!
ma che chiasso, non si riesce neanche a dormire! = what a din, you can’t even sleep!
quando cambio marcia la macchina fa un chiasso da morire = when I change gear the car makes an awful racket

A Few Other Ways Of Describing Sounds

Musica = Music, A Pleasant Sound

qui siamo circondati dalla musica della natura = here, we’re surrounded by the sweet sound (music) of nature.
Romeo ha sentito la dolce musica della voce di Giulietta: “Sta’ a sentire Romeo, hai mica una cicca?” = Romeo heard the sweet sound of Giulietta’s voice: “Listen Romeo, have you got a bit of chewing gum?” (makes more sense if you’ve read this blog: Romeo, Romeo, Perché Sei Tu Romeo?

Fracasso = Crash, Racket, Din

dalla cucina è arrivato il fracasso di piatti rotti = the crash of breaking plates arrived from the kitchen

Baccano = Row, Racket, Din (made by people, e.g. at a rowdy party)

i bimbi che giocavano in giardino facevano un gran baccano = the kids playing in the garden made a great row.

The word baccano has an interesting etymology: In ancient Rome, the Baccanale was a riotous orgiastic festival dedicated to the god Bacchus, the Roman name for the Greek god Dionysus.

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Comments:

  1. Kimberly Koehler:

    Come se dice “a loud humming sound” ? L’aria condizionata dei miei vicini ….

    • Geoff:

      @Kimberly Koehler Ciao Kimberly.

      Per la parola ‘hum’ potresti usare ronzio, che è il suono che fa un’ape o una vespa.
      Quindi: ‘si sente il forte ronzio del climatizzatore dei miei vicini’.

      Va bene?

  2. Jojella:

    Interesting, thank you.
    I often wonder about word order in Italian. For instance you translate Dalla cucina è arrivato il fracasso di piatti rotti as The crash of breaking plates came from the kitchen.
    Why the reverse of word order?

    • Geoff:

      @Jojella Salve Jojella, word order in Italian is far more flexible than in English. On the positive side, there are more possibilities to be creative! It’s difficult, however, to learn how to create the best syntax unless you’re living in Italy, and speaking Italian on a daily basis.
      Your best option, if you don’t live here, is to listen to as much spoken Italian as possible. Youtube is your friend!

      I’ll talk with Serena about the possibility of a blog on the subject.

      A presto, Geoff 🙂


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