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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Chiacchiere’

If you've got a sweet tooth, this is a word you'll want to know during carnival season.

Italian word of the day: 'Chiacchiere'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

You might know that chiacchiere is the Italian word for a chat, or chatter.

– fare due/quattro chiacchiere

– to have a chat (literally “to have two/four chats”)

– Voglio solo fare quattro chiacchiere

– I just want to have a word.

Sometimes this word, or the verb chiacchierare (to chat, talk or chatter) can also mean to gossip.

Depending on context, it can also imply what my Italian husband calls “speaking to speak” – meaning idle chit-chat, or useless discussion. Talking about things you'll never actually do, or maybe complaining about problems that you'll never bother to solve.

– chiacchierare del più e del meno

– to shoot the breeze

Someone who does this a lot might be called a chiacchierone (a chatterbox.)

Either way, it's the kind of word you'll find useful when living among famously talkative Italians. 

And the word chiacchiere has another, sweeter meaning.

During February, many towns across Italy are celebrating carnevale. It's not just Venice; though that particular carnevale is in a league of its own, there are plenty of others. Some other towns known for their mardi-gras-like celebrations are Viareggio, Ivrea, Cento, Gambettola, Satriano, and Acireale.

And carnevale is the time to eat chiacchiere; a kind of sweet, fried, sugar-dusted pastry.

Different regions have their own versions and not everyone calls them chiacchiere. 

In Tuscany, they're apparently called cenci or donzelle. They're cròstoli in Trentino, bugie in Piemonte, and so on.

But whatever they're called in your favourite part of Italy, chiacchiere are always worth trying during carnival season.

 

Chiacchiere. Photo: Depositphotos

 

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ITALIAN WORD OF THE DAY

Italian word of the day: ‘Tirocinio’

Let us offer you some (unpaid) experience with this Italian word.

Italian word of the day: 'Tirocinio'

If you’re entering the world of work in Italy, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll be offered a tirocinio (pronunciation available here). Should you accept?

That all depends on whether you think you’ll get enough benefit (and money – in the unlikely event there is any) out of an internship, which is what this slightly odd-sounding word means.

According to the Accademia della Crusca, Italy’s oldest linguistic academy and the guardians of the Italian language, it comes from the Latin word tirocinium, which has two components.

The first part of the word comes from tirone, the name for a recruit to the Roman military (tirare means – among others things – ‘to shoot’ in Italian).

The second, cinium, comes from canere, meaning ‘to sound’ (a horn) or ‘to play’ (music); a tubicinium was a horn or trumpet player.

Joined together, the two words meant something like ‘a rousing of the recruits’, in the sense of an initiation or learning experience. An intern is a tirocinante.

Tirocinio isn’t the only Italian word for internship: you’ll also hear people talk about a stage (pronounced the French way, like this, as it’s borrowed from French); an intern is a stagista.

That’s the title given to Alessandro, one of the main characters in the Italian comedy series Boris, who starts an internship on the set of the medical soap opera Eyes of the Heart 2 and is soon initiated into the bizarre and dysfunctional world of Roman TV production.

Ho dovuto lavorare presso la mia azienda per sei mesi come stagista prima che mi offrissero un lavoro.
I had to work at my company for six months as an intern before they offered me a job.

Domani inizierò il mio tirocinio – auguratemi buona fortuna!
I start my internship tomorrow – wish me luck!

If you do end up working as a tirocinante or stagista, hopefully it will be less surreal and better remunerated than that of Boris’s protagonist.

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

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