Useful Conversational Rejoinders Posted by Geoff on Feb 23, 2015 in Uncategorized
As learners of Italian we’ve all found ourselves in situations where our limited vocabulary makes us sound like fumbling four year olds, vero? Yes we’ve studied our grammar, we’ve rehearsed fantastical Italian conversation in our heads, we’ve made grand speeches on the most fascinating of topics in la bella lingua …. and suddenly there we are, confronted with a real live native Italian telling us about their lumbago or the latest amusing antics of their pet snail … and everything goes pear shaped! We stand there like idiots, heads bobbing up and down like those nodding dogs that one used to see in the back of cars (do people still have them?)
It’s all a rather complex problem: we have to concentrate extra hard to follow all the information that we’re being bombarded with whilst at the same time trying to work out some kind of vaguely intelligent reply … “wait, hang on, what was that word … damn, now I missed the next bit … now why are they staring at me as if I’m meant to answer, should I nod, smile, shake my head?”
In fact we all tend to find ourselves doing nodding dog impersonations rather too much in these situations. Yes, occasionally we manage to come out with one of our stock rejoinders such as “che bello” = “how lovely” or “che peccato” = “what a shame”, but those replies can get old pretty quickly.
However, never fear, Geoff is here. Let’s see if we can’t expand our vocabulary of useful conversational rejoinders. Here are a few short extracts from some of my fictional conversations.
1. mi dispiace …
Il capitano si rivolse al marinaio: “Rossi” disse “oggi il mio pappagallo non si sente tanto bene” … “mi dispiace capitano” rispose il marinaio.
The captain addressed the sailor: “Rossi, my parrot’s not feeling very well today” … “I’m sorry to hear it captain” replied the sailor.
N.B. mi dispiace = I’m sorry/sorry to hear it, (literally: it displeases me) is NOT, despite appearances, the opposite of mi piace = I like (literally: it pleases me)
2. che strano …
Luisa: “Stanotte ho sognato che mia zia che abita a Napoli, sai quella che canta come un gatto strozzato, ha vinto il primo posto al Festival della canzone italiana di Sanremo” … Zoe: “che strano … ma bello però”.
Luisa: “Last night I dreamt the my aunt who lives in Napoli, you know, the one that sings like a strangled cat, won first prize at the Sanremo Music Festival” … Zoe: “How strange … but lovely none the less”
3. davvero, caspita, pensa un po’ …
Here we have, three rejoinders for the price of one. Take your pick, use them individually or in combination to liven up your conversations:
Vecchietto al giovanotto: “Fanciullo mio, quando avevo la tua età camminavo quindici chilometri al dì, senza scarpe, per andare a scuola” … Giovanotto (ad alta voce): “davvero, caspita, ma pensa un po’!” (sotto voce): “ma che stronzate raccontano ‘sti vecchietti, non vedo l’ora di tornare ai miei videogiochi”.
Old man to young lad: “my lad, when I was your age I walked fifteen kilometres a day without shoes to get to school” … young lad, (out loud): “really, wow, just think about that!” (mumbling to himself): “what bullshit these old people talk, I can’t wait to get back to my video-games”. (note to self: Geoff, shame on you for using such horrible stereotypes)
I hope you have fun using this vocabulary. If you want more leave me a comment below. A presto …
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