Monday, March 26, 2007

Roman Slang 101

I love to speak slang. If only to see the Italian faces when they hear it roll off my lips. Everytime I spout out some slang they usually stare at me in disbelief with a wild grin and giggling. Its as if I somehow cracked the barrier and we're on the same playing field as I am instantly elevated in their eyes. I am no longer the struggling Americana who stumbles among her words and mixes up masculine and feminine. I am no longer the ragazza who can't conjugate worth a darn to save her life. But it's all okay. I mean, come on, I can speak slang.

Do stai andá? is short for "Dove stai andando?" in English it would translate to "where are you going?"
Che stai fá? is short for "Che stai facendo?" or "what are you doing?"
Bella! Sometimes pronounces Bellllllaaaaaaaaaah! Also as in Ah, Bella! This is used a lot as in "Hey guys. What's up?" Literally bella means beautiful.
fico means "cool" or handsome if you are referring to a man. Fico literally means fig.
fica means ""a nice piece of ass" however it can also mean a very vulgar term for a female body part. I think everyone I know that's learned the Italian language has an embarassing story about this one.
ammazza or "wow, great"
Dai! oh come on!
Per carita! Forget about it!
Che pizza! How boring!
Che palle! this is more vulgar and could be translated to What balls!
And let's not forget the oh so loved cazzo which is derived, I think, from cacca and is used all the time everywhere. Not a day goes by that I don't hear "che cazzo fai?" or "che cazzo dici?" or "sti cazzi?" It's really rude and vulgar and I'm sorry if I offend anyone but honestly, I hear it all the time so I'm including it in this post. It's just so Roman.

And then let's get down to the basics. The good ol Roman grunting.
Eh? This is pretty universal for Yeah? And?
Oi! can mean Hey! Hi!
Aiyah! means Ouch!
and Oooooooooh! is my all time favorite that means oh, come on. As in Ooooooooooh! Che dici? translation: Come on, what are you saying?
Just add a few hand signals or at the very least throw your hands wildly around in the air and you've got it. Your speaking Roman slang!



Blogger sognatrice said...

Hah, great stuff here! I have to say that one of my famous Romanisms (?) is the mix of "ammazza" with the classic "oh" so that it becomes something like "Ammazza-ooooh!" Romans sure are fun to listen to :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger FinnyKnits said...

I love this post! It's something I'm totally obsessed with when I'm visiting Shelley. My favorite is when her husband (!!! They just got married a few days ago) is talking to his friends and goes,"Aaoooo!" - usually when they say something crazy or surprising. Great reaction - and, from what Shelley tells me, very Roman. Of course, he is Trasteverino, so that makes sense. The first thing he taught me, was "Que cazzo!" and now encourages me to yell it while we're driving. Very funny.

Of course, he enjoys using American slang more than anyone I know and is constantly trying to shock us with the most vulgar thing he can think of. Hysterical.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 7:56:00 PM  
Blogger Madelyne said...

my brother in law is Roman & when he gets together with his family it's funny to listen to. I can't understand half of what they say cause they mix it up with the dialect from Foggia but it's all very animated

Friday, March 30, 2007 9:13:00 AM  
Blogger nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I love saying che cazzo dice. I also like vaffunculo but understand that it's not something you hear a lot of women saying.

I grew up in the Tri-State area (NY/NJ) and I try to ease up on the cursing but it's hard. haha

Friday, March 30, 2007 5:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cazzo is not 'cacca' its... anatomical. Also, the favourite swear word of Blessed Innocent XI Pamphilj. The courtiers tried to convince Sua Santità but...

Monday, April 02, 2007 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger avery said...

sognatrice, finny and madelyne-it's so funny to watch Italians and their slang! I love it i love it I love it!

nyc-i say the "v" word too, but only around people I know really well otherwise it is really rude, especially from a woman

anon-I know cazzo is slang for a male anatomical part but I thought perhaps phoenetically it was closely related to cacca. And that's so funny about the Pope! ha ha! I had no idea....

Monday, April 02, 2007 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Italianissima said...

I love this post. Italian slang can be the best - espcially roman slang.
Sognatrice - I think you mean "Amazzate oh!" which is also a song by Luciano Rossi on a compilation called Una Rotonda Sul Mare...I think.

Friday, April 27, 2007 10:23:00 PM  
Blogger Mathilde said...

Hey, I'm in your shoes. I'm a dance student in Rome and my husband works at the film school there. I actually saw your "Ohhhh!" written in a script. It actually has its own spelling.. "Aho!"

Monday, August 25, 2008 6:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cazzo means dick. che cazzo literally means what the dick... try this one out i made it up myself, but my roman friend says he's started using it, and it works.

"Che Cazzo di inferno" What the dick of hell, literally

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 5:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is brilliant! Thank you! I like using slang to annoy my Roman boyfriend, who wants me to learn 'proper' Italian. I can add 'anamo' to the list...short for 'andiamo?'/'shall we go?'. It drives him mad, but I think he is secretly proud. You are right, there is something special about knowing some slang :-)

Saturday, November 28, 2009 7:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cazzo may refer to the male genitalia, but what I do know for sure is that it's most commonly used as the f-word. A common example you'll hear and use in the centre as you're navigating the punishing sanpietrini on two wheels is, "ma che cazzo fa?!", which translates literally as "what the **** are you doing?!" :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010 10:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not forget:
Ao, 'ndosta er cesso? - Where's the pisser?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 9:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you know by any chance what "dai che te la trombi" means? more what trombi means

Sunday, August 28, 2011 3:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

trombare means to have sex with but in a more vulgar tone - to fu....

Thursday, December 06, 2012 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how can you have forgot ri mortacci tua - you will hear that in every office, every bus, every corner of magica Roma

Thursday, December 06, 2012 12:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Che cazzo fai momma mia? Non parlate italiano? Pfffffft!

Sunday, September 01, 2013 8:37:00 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey Kosh said...

I was born in Rome, then I spent most of my life in the US, UK, and Thailand. Now I'm back, living with my French partner just in the outskirts of the Eternal City. I'm slowly rediscovering a fascination about the local slag. Yes, it can be vulgar (like all urban slang everywhere in the world), but, surprisingly, it has noble roots. And its correct written spelling, as put down by two famous Roman poets, Trilussa and Gioacchino Belli.

The 'Oooohh!' sound is relatively new, for the original one was the very basic "Aho'".
This is the cornerstone of all the Roman words. It has no meaning per se, but it can be used - by altering of the tone of your voice - to mean very differing things. It can be that you are agreeing with your interlocutor (like Yup). It can be used as a protest (Aho', movete! - Aho', get off my way!). Or it can be used as a way to show off (adjusting your collar and mumbling an Aho').
'Limortaccitua', as it is often, wrongly, written, is one of the most complex slang out there. Literally, it can be translated as 'Your Best Dead Relatives', which, frankly, doesn't make sense in the English language.
It can be used as a sign of approval, denial, anger, surprise, and more.
However, I strongly advice to not use this kind of language in 'posh' places or you will be looked down and branded as an 'Ignorante' (literally 'Ignorant', but leaning more toward 'rude and cheap').

Thank you for writing this post.

Saturday, June 27, 2015 6:12:00 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey Kosh said...

Oh, I forgot to add that 'Trombare' isn't properly Roman, but comes from Tuscany. It means having sex, in a vulgar tone. The proper Roman verb is 'Scopare', also used all over Italy.
And a final warning: 'Chiavare' comes from Veneto, but has been adopted by Romans. It means the same thing as 'Trombare'.

Saturday, June 27, 2015 6:18:00 PM  

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