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Italian expression of the day: 'Che barba!'

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Italian expression of the day: 'Che barba!'
Photo: DepositPhotos
15:43 CEST+02:00
Telling people how bored you are has never been so amusing.

Life in Italy is anything but boring. Especially when you're learning the language. Every conversation opens up new opportunities to test your vocabulary, learn something new, or make a total fool of yourself.

Surprised, amused, amazed, confused, and embarassed – these are words I'd use to describe how I feel most of the time since moving here.

But bored? Not so much.

Still, those rare dull moments are the perfect opportunity to bust out an amusing Italian phrase: che barba!

Literally “what a beard,” che barba means “what a bore.”

I’m not sure whether this comes from the idea that beards take a long time to grow, and so that whatever’s happening is about as much fun as watching a beard grow.

I like to imagine it's a reference to a particularly long-winded and long-bearded professor who puts his students to sleep.

In any case, if you hear someone suddenly exclaim "che barba!" they're probably not complimenting someone's excellent facial hair.

And if you see an Italian stroking an imaginary beard, they're probably not contemplating the meaning of life. They're most likely saying they're bored.

- Non ti è piaciuto il film?

- No. Che barba!

- Didn't you like the film?

- No! What a bore.

Or you can dispense with words altogether.

- How was Italian class today?

- (Silent stroking of chin)

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

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Kim Rampling - 28 May 2019 01:06
I seem to recall during my time in Northern Italy, that this expression also referred to the fact that men had to shave every day; a boring fact of life. The gesture is close to one of my favourites: the quick, multiple flick of all four fingers under the chin denoting 'I couldn't care less' (me ne frega....). So not to be confused, even if the end result can be similar!
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