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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Immagino’

We imagine this word will make your Italian conversations way less awkward.

I love how chatty my Italian neighbours are.

But you know when someone starts telling you a long story about something that happened to them, and you don’t really have anything to add?

That gets super awkward in a foreign language.

As a beginner you can find yourself just grinning and nodding like a maniac, only ensuring that the neighbour is too disturbed to ever attempt conversation with you again.

And even when you can understand what they’re saying – or at least most of it – you might not be able to think of a response quickly enough. Or maybe you just have nothing to add.

Instead of awkward silence, or manic smiling, here’s a useful word that shows the chatty neighbour you’re listening and keeps the ‘conversation’ going: Immagino

While you can translate it as “I imagine,” it’s used to mean something like “I can imagine!” or “I bet!” and expresses sympathy with whatever the speaker is complaining about.

Non posso credere che abbiano chiuso la strada. Che traffico!

I can’t believe they’ve closed the road. The traffic was terrible!

Immagino!

È così difficile gestire due aziende e essere una mamma con tre figli. Sono esausta!

It’s so difficult managing two businesses while being a mother to three kids. I’m exhausted!

Immagino!

via GIPHY

Of course, you can use “immagino” to simply mean “I imagine” too.

Hai fatto un viaggio molto lungo! Immagino che tu stia stanco

You’ve had a long trip! I imagine that you’re tired.

Either way, it’s a useful little word that can’t fail to help you make a few new friends in Italy.

Do you have a favourite Italian word, phrase or expression you'd like us to feature? If so, please email our editor Jessica Phelan with your suggestion.

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian expression of the day: ‘Conosco i miei polli’

We know what we're dealing with with this Italian phrase.

Italian expression of the day: 'Conosco i miei polli'

You don’t have to be a poultry farmer to go around telling people ‘conosco i miei polli’ – literally, ‘I know my chickens’ – in Italian.

There’s no perfect translation, but it means something along the lines of ‘I know who I’m dealing with/ what they can get up to/ what they’re like’; I know what to expect from them, for better or worse.

It usually implies slightly mischievously that the people or person being discussed could be troublemakers, and that the speaker has the necessary knowledge to deal with them effectively.

You might think of it as ‘I know what those little devils/rascals are like’ if referring to naughty children, or ‘I know how those jokers/b******s operate’ if discussing petty officials or difficult colleagues.

Saranno tornati entro la mattinata; fidati, conosco i miei polli.
They’ll be back by morning; trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

Conosco i miei polli; vedrete che arriveranno alla riunione con mezz’ora di ritardo e daranno la colpa al traffico.
I know them: you’ll see, they’ll get to the meeting half an hour late and blame it on the traffic.

Business Guy Nbc GIF by Sunnyside

According to at least one source, the full original phrase is ‘conosco i miei polli alla calzetta‘, or ‘I know my chickens by their stockings’.

It refers back to a time when chickens roamed the streets or shared courtyards freely.

So they didn’t get mixed up, each bird had a little scrap of coloured cloth tied around their foot that allowed each owner to quickly spot their chicken.

The next time you’re dealing with some tricky characters, you’ll know just what to say.

Do you have an Italian word you’d like us to feature? If so, please email us with your suggestion.

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