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What are some "must know" Italian words and phrases?

What are some "must know" Italian words and phrases?

Apr 12th, 2005, 08:45 PM
  #1  
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What are some "must know" Italian words and phrases?

We are leaving for Italy in a little less than two months and have a phrase book. Can you give me some ideas on which words or phrases you think would be most important? (including pronunciation) We'll be there for two weeks; Tuscany/Umbria, Venice, the Amalfi coast. Renting a car and taking a train. Plan to visit wineries, small towns and mostly soak up the culture. Thanks for your help!

I got the "Learn Italian in your Car" tapes, and learned "train" and "where" pretty easily. But when they rattled off "Where is the train station that will take me to Casstellammare di Stabia and how many stops does it make?", I decided to come to the real experts!!
nbbrown is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 09:06 PM
  #2  
rex
 
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See http://travlang.com/languages/cgi-bi...&lang2=italian

I think that failure to be able to say "Where is the train station that will take me to Casstellammare di Stabia and how many stops does it make?" in Italian... is a reason that you may not be able to get beyond passport control when you arrive at the airport in Italy.



Best wishes,

Rex

rex is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 09:09 PM
  #3  
 
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Dov'e la banca? (Where is the bank?)
Per piacere... please
Mi scusa.... Excuse me (to get someone's attention...this is the polite form)
Permisso... This is the phrase to get by someone in line or just move around someone in a crowd
ArrivederLa This is goodbye, the polite (formal) form
Buon giorno Good morning
Buona sera Good evening
Buona notte Good night (last thing you say before leaving
Ha una tavola per due persone, per favore? Do you have a table for 4 people, please?

I could write pages and pages. The issue is the pronunciation. If you have listen in your car Italian, that is very good. Another is Just Listen & Learn Italian. If you listen every night for even 15 minutes a night it will make a big difference by the time your trip arrives.
Have a great time!
wanderlust5 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 09:11 PM
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Of course I made a mistake on that last one! Due persone is for two people. Can you tell I am tired? four people would be "quatro persone"
pronounced KwaTroh Pear-so-nay

wanderlust5 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 10:24 PM
  #5  
cmt
 
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This is NOT the place to find the "real experts" on Italian language! Though so far you're getting good info, in general, language advice threads like this get an enormous amount of wrong information posted, along with some pretty good information. This is one of the worst ways to get pronunciation help. Italian is not difficult to pronounce, but we can't accurately show how it should sound just by using English spelling. Your tapes and books are really better sources of information. But if you still prefer to get Italian language help on an Internet forum, it would be better at least to go to an Italian language forum, e.g., the one on AboutCom.
cmt is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 12:48 AM
  #6  
 
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As cmt said Italian is not difficult to pronounce. It basically sounds as it reads (there are exceptions of course). Most English speaking people get the vowel sounds wrong. Here are some general tips to pronouce them

a as in the u in umbrella
e as in the e in egg
i as in the i in igloo
o as in the o in orange
u as in the oo in book

So when you are given the words try these simple rules. Your Italian will improve dramatically!

Saluti
worldinabag is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 05:18 AM
  #7  
rex
 
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<<a as in the u in umbrella
e as in the e in egg
i as in the i in igloo
o as in the o in orange
u as in the oo in book>>

These are some peculiar examples, worldinabag... I don't know where you live, but five for five of these don't really work for people living in the midwestern US (with some excceptions - - the Pakistanis around here who learned English outside North America say some of thse words in the way you are hinting at).

umbrella? - - while some people do indeed say "ahm-brella", for most people, the vowel in umbrella is the same as drum or dumb. For "a" in Italian, more pertinent examples are ah, or father, or aqua (rarely, i hear some people mispronouncee "aqua" or "ack-wah")

egg? as it is pronounced here in Indiana, it's a good example for the "e" in "elle" in French. Maybe in Texas, "egg" rhymes with "plague", in which case, that is a decent example for Italian "e". It's somewhere betwee "pay" and "peg", but closer to the former - - just not as long (in duration).

igloo? not at all! "machine" is a good example. why igloo?

orange? many Americans pronounce this as "ah-renj", so it is not a good example. "oh", or "oboe" or "doe" or "foe" are all good examples - - though again, keep it short. Americans tend to pronounce "o" a bit shorter when followed by a hard consonant, such as in coat or soak. As with "e", the (American) English examples are not perfect - - Italian "o" virtually never has a consonant at the end of a syllable (the consonant goes with the next syllable), and as such, the "o" sound is just slightly, a hybrid between "coat" and "cot" (think of "cot" as it sounds with a "British accent")

book? only if you pronounce "book" to rhyme with "kook"... or "them Dook(s) of Hazard" (bad dialectic slur here, in reference to a once-upon-a-time television show). Oddly, you already gave a great example for Italian "u"... igloo! You could also suggest boo, coo, or moo.

But as cmt already explained... writing in words here is such a bad way to indicate pronunciation, since neither you, nor she nor I know how the reader will pronounce a given word.
rex is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:22 AM
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I went to a used book store and got a great Italian language cassette that I playd constantly in the car for months. It helped tremendously as the speakers were Italian and they spanned a wide range of accents. The tape went from basic tourist phrases, numbers etc..to more complicated situations. Very useful. You can always get these same tapes from your local library as well.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:27 AM
  #9  
ira
 
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Hi nb,

A very important phrase:
Dov'e le toilettes?

ira is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:33 AM
  #10  
 
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nbbrown-without going into particulars, there are incorrect posts here-just stick to your books and tapes-whatever you'll glean from them will bring much in the way of rewards from the Italians, I assure you...
Spygirl is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:37 AM
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We find this phrase to be useful at least once a day:
"Vorrei una coppa di gelato, per favore"
I would like a cup of gelato, please.
=)

hlocke1 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:40 AM
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Here is another useful link: http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/language/index.asp

Have fun!
hlocke1 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:46 AM
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I found Rick Steve's little phrase book very helpful, small enough to slip in your purse. It translates many menu items in case your kids don't want to eat spagetti made with squid.

A helpful phrase was asking to change my money into smaller bills- (there was a thread on Paris about how many people hate big bills and that's what you get in the ATM - just as true in Italy) don't remember it now, but it was in the phrasebook and even though the cashier at the bank spoke perfect English back to me, I can't help thinking my learning the phrase was part of the reason he was so willing to help me out.

Joelle
Joelleinitaly04 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:48 AM
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"Prego" Used by everyone. Don't know the exact meaning, but seems to be similar to the US "okay" or "good". Keep in mind when you ask a question in a foreign language, the person's response will be in that language too. Brief questions seem to get good responses too, eg. Toillette? Taxi? Hotel? Gratzie!!
tamjam is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:51 AM
  #15  
ira
 
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Parle inglese, per favore?

It is ungrammatical, but gets a smile if you emphasize the "per favore".
ira is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:55 AM
  #16  
 
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Yeah fair point, Rex it does depend on what part of the globe you come from. I have given my crash course to a few people and they've picked it up OK. Don't take them too seriously - they are just some simple guidelines.

Arrivederci
worldinabag is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 07:29 AM
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I rather doubt you'll find yourself in too many Italian towns which ahve more than one train station so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Beaing able to say "How much does it cost?" is sometimes helpful, and depending on your own outlook on life and with whom you are traveling the following phrase might be helpful:

Siete così caldi. Andiamo a letto!!

I'll let you decideif it's something that may come in handy. Enjoy Italy..it is all they say it is, and more!
Intrepid1 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 07:46 AM
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IMO the problem with learning a few phrases or questions in any language (that you have not studied to fluency) is even if you can get out a question... you most likely will not be able to understand the answer given!

So my suggestion of the most valuable single phrase is -learned in Italian and practiced until it rolls off your tongue- "I'm sorry, I don't speak Italian" said with a humble smile and shrug.

I also always practice up on: please, thank you, good morning, excuse me, pardon me, I'm sorry, I don't understand, what? how much? (but even then you need to know your numbers in Italian unless they happen to answer in English).

suze is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 07:49 AM
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I have found that waving your hands around while saying "toilette?" with a pained expression on your face works wonders.
SharonG is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 08:50 AM
  #20  
 
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vino bianco
vino rosso
mezzo litro
litro per piacere!
due birre

I found those to be the most important

NB, when we were there in 2002 I used the 'I don't speak Italian very well, do you know any english' phrase and it worked wonderfully! You're guide book should have some version of that.

(I can still say it, but would butcher it if I were to type it, and taking Italian this semester helps me with recognition, not writing though!)
travelphile is offline  

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