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LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Italian word of the day: ‘Qualunquismo’

Politics? Yeah, whatever.

Italian word of the day: 'Qualunquismo'

If you're past caring about the latest political goings-on, this word is for you.

As a pejorative, the word qualunque can be translated as “whatever”.

And the related noun qualunquismo means an attitude of distrust, scepticism, defeatism and apathy  – something like “whateverism” or “meh-ism”.

 

But it's not plain old indifference, because there's a heavy note of contempt.

That might explain why it's so often used in relation to politics.

Qualunquismo is a word for feeling fed up, when you've had it up to here, and can't stand the sight of something (usually politicans) for a minute longer.

It's the attitude of “they're all the same, so what's the point?” that so often stops people from voting in elections. It's sometimes translated as “everymanism”.

You pronounce it kwal-un-kwiz-mo.

READ ALSO: Ten untranslatable words that only exist in Italian

While this word often pops up in writing about former Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the word can be traced all the way back to 1946 and the right-wing populist, monarchist and anti-communist party, the Fronte dell'Uomo Qualunque (The Everyman's Front).

Formed just after the Second World War, the party apparently offered an “apolitical” alternative to both fascism and anti-fascism, at a time when Italians had heard more than enough about both.

This particular movement was short-lived, but it seems the attitude it embodied has lived on.

By extension, a person who feels a lot of qualunquismo is a qualunquista.

The word is a cousin of menefreghismo, a rather dark word that could be translated as “not-giving-a-damn-ism.”

Qualunquismo isn't a word you'll hear very often, but if you do find a reason to use it you'll no doubt impress your friends and surprise your Italian teacher.

If you care about that.
 

Do you have an Italian word you'd like us to feature? If so, please email us 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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