Sunday, 13 April 2014

Per scaramanzia

Someone has decided that the millionth word in the English language is Web 2.0. When the interviewer asked him what word he would choose to take with him to a Desert Island he reassuringly chose the word stuff. He said it is a very versatile word " you can have stuff in your pocket, you can go to your office and do stuff, etc" he said.
English is a rich and varied language , ever- changing, ever- growing. Lots of words cannot be translated using just one word in Italian. To say Jet-lag , you would have to say something like" the feeling of unease caused by travelling from one time zone to another by aeroplane", in Italian.
There are some Italian words however that do not translate easily into English. One of my favourites is Scaramanzia.
My dictionary defines it thus -':gesture to ward off bad luck, superstitious gesture.'
It is so much more than that . It is the perfect word to use when you need an elegant excuse not to talk about something, to avoid looking a fool, to get people on your side. 
You don't need to say how your job interview went, that your chocolate cake is always delicious, that your son never gets colds. No, you never say these things per scaramanzia.
It is also very useful when you do something that Italians think is slightly odd.
'Oh we always do that in Britain " you say airily per scaramanzia. Take an umbrella with you even though there is not a cloud in the sky,pack a thick jumper in the Summer, you can do  anything you like per scaramanzia.
This brings me to tell you a funny little rhyme my Mum loved saying. It was always greeted by raised eyebrows from my Dad and hysterical giggles from me , but with a slight nagging doubt in the back of my mind.
All the world is strange
Save me and thee
And even thee' s
A little strange

Buona Domenica

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