The Italian language, we are told, is simple and relatively easy to learn. It is phonetic, so should be easy to pronounce. It has regular sentence structure and far fewer ‘exceptions to the rule’ than English. Plus it has only 22 letters in the alphabet. There are only around 250,000 words in use in the Italian language, compared to around 300,000 English words. It should be a doddle.
Of course, many of us do struggle with Italian. Beyond ‘pizza’ and ‘spaghetti’ and ‘ciao’ things can get a bit tricky.
Embarrassing: Penne (little tubes of pasta) is said ‘pennne’. It is regularly confused with pene (penis), said ‘pene’ – frankly, the difference is miniscule and you’re very likely to ask for a bowl of willy at some point.
Potentially messy: Mettere il pane nella lavatrice.” Put the bread in the washing machine – should be “mettere i panni nella lavatrice’ – put the dirty clothes in the washing machine.
Worrying: ‘Il mio bimbo dorme nel culo’ rather than ‘culla’ –translates as ‘my baby sleeps in an arse’ rather than a cot.”
Plain daft: At the builders merchants don’t ask for adhesive to stick the pipistrelli to the walls – the word for tiles is piastrelle. Pipistrelli are bats.
Just wrong: Adding ‘o’ to the end of a word does not make it into Italian. For example, ‘spoono’ is actually cucchiaio. ‘pantio’ – mutanda, ‘footo’ – piede.
Mille – thousand, not million
Fantastico – not actually a word
Asta la vista – Spanish
Bimbo – baby boy
Basta! – enough!
Caldo – hot