Italian Phrases to Improve Your Cross-Cultural Communication
In bocca al lupo
This uniquely Italian idiom translates to “in the wolf’s mouth.” People use the phrase to wish friends who’re going through a difficult time good luck. The standard reply is “crepi il lupo,” meaning “may the wolf die.” This saying-- the Italian equivalent of “break a leg” -- is also common among actors.
Italian use the word “magari” to express hope, especially in situations where they want a specific outcome. “Are you trying to win the lottery? Magari!”
Ogni morte di papa
“Ogni morte de papa” is a common idiom that means “every death of a pope.” The phrase is used to describe something that rarely happens. It’s similar to the English phrase “once in a blue moon.”
Ricevuto come un cane in chiesa
Another colloquialism related to religion is “ricevuto come un cane in chiesa.” This phrase is a way to say something is unwelcome or unappreciated. It translates to “received like a dog in church.”
Che no so
Italians will be impressed with your cultural awareness if you use the phrase “che no so” when someone asks you a question that’s impossible to answer. Italians often accompany this phrase with a shrug of their shoulders and shaking their head. “Che no se” means “how should I know” and is a sarcastic response to life’s unanswerable questions.
Salve come va
A friendly, casual way to greet your friends and neighbors, “salve come va” means “hello, how’s it going?” You’ll score highly on your cross-cultural communication as long as you make sure you only use this phrase in appropriate situations and not during introductions in a formal setting.
This phrase translates to “that’s irrelevant,” and locals use it when they disagree with a sentiment. When the verb “entrarci” is in its negative form, it often expresses the attitude “that’s none of your business” or “that has nothing to do with it.”