Lost in Translation

Before moving to Italy I used to enjoy spotting signs that were either spelt incorrectly or were unintentionally humorous. Here in Italy it’s much harder to find them as Italian is my second language and I’m still not fluent enough to spot any errors, so I have to rely mostly on finding translated mistakes. Here’s three pieces of text that have amused me recently.


I like for this drink that the Italian instructions for use, instruct you store in the fridge and use within 2/3 days, however the English translation says, ‘consume within some days’. So nothing specific there then.


The second is a photograph of the local Chinese restaurant menu. It’s not the misspelling of prawns or sauce that made me smile, it was the ‘chilly’ sauce. This simple oxymoron of a hot chilli sauce that’s advertised as being in need of a sweater to keep it warm made me smile.


This final one appealed to my immature side and toilet humour, (no pun intended). It’s from a recent supermarket receipt and makes the two bottles of beer I’ve purchased less appealing. You could say the birra was a bit of a bum deal.

Simpatico… Oh well it could be worse.

Simpatico. A word I’ve heard on three occasions recently but only discovered what it meant last night. The first incidence was in the supermarket, I was waiting in line at the checkout when an elderly lady joined the queue behind me. As she only had two items and I had several I asked if she’d like to go in front of me. At first she said no, she was okay to wait, but I insisted and she took my place in line. She then asked if I was English, I told her I was indeed, then she stroked my cheek and said, “Sie simpatico.” This I took to mean I’m sympathetic to her needs, so I smiled and said thank you.

The second occasion happened when I was introduced to an Italian lady by a friend, as usual the lady asked me lots of questions, the first obviously was, are you German? This was then followed with the obligatory, so why is your hair so blond? Followed by, why did you come here? I answered all the questions: in fact I’ve become quite adept at having stock answers stored in my head. She then turned to my friend and used the word simpatico, my friend looked at me and agreed. I meant to ask what she had said, but as the waitress brought us an espresso and I answered her query about which water I wanted with it, I forgot as I replied, ‘Acqua frizzante.’


Last night was the third time the word surfaced and this time I discovered its meaning. I had met a new friend and we were chatting over a drink when he said, “Tu simpatico.” Now as my new friend speaks better English than I do Italian I seized the opportunity to ask what it meant. His reply was, “It means you’re not handsome.” I must have looked upset as he then quickly said, “My translation is bad.”

Now I know I’m not in the Pitt/Clooney league, but I’ve never had any problems throughout my life picking someone up for… Shall we say extra curricular activities. My new friend then said, “Simpatico, it means you are nice looking, have a pleasant face, you’re lovely.” I smile and think, oh well, that’ll have to do. Besides it’s much better than when someone last year told me I had a lived in face and then said, “In the nicest possible way.” (Needless to say this is a person who wont be getting an invite to come and stay in Italy.)

Simpatico (persona) Nice, pleasant, likeable. Source: Collins Italian Dictionary and Grammar.

Single Parenting

I know everybody’s situation is different, and some single  parents out there are doing a great job of raising healthy and well-adjusted children. Therefore it is not my intention to offend anyone with this blog entry, please just accept it for what it is, a piece of (childish) humour inspired by a book cover. A few weeks back, I was out and about in town with my friend Josh when I spotted a book in the Teach Yourself range titled, Teach Yourself Single Parenting. This made me smile as although I’m sure it’s full of great pieces of information regarding legal issues etc. It did seem like a red rag to a bull publication, encouraging young girls to become mothers. Imagine it.

CAM00056-cropChapter one: How to Become a Single Parent.  First get your one of your mates; Shaz or Bev will do, to fix you up with a local lad for a date, make sure, said lad only wears track-suit bottoms. On the date and time of the pre-arranged rendezvous,  drink a couple of litres of alcohol, white cider and lambrusco usually has the desired effect of making local lad more attractive. Take lad behind the bus-shelter, slide his track-suit bottoms down low enough to reveal his penis, insert penis into baby-making cavity and wait for the shoving and grunting to finish; you’ll more than likely not have time to finish your cigarette. Remove lad, adjust your clothing and untangle hooped earing from your plait and re-join Shaz and Bev for more cider in the doorway of your local Heart Foundation charity shop.

Chapter two: Telling Everyone You’re about to Become a Parent. It’s imperative that you tell people you’re pregnant as soon as you find out, this is so that those fair weather friends can be ‘real jealous’ and your real friends can stop you knocking back any more cheap booze. The best way to find out if you are up the duff is to ask Bev to nick you one of those pee sticks from the chemist. With Shaz there for moral support, pee on the stick and wait, if the thing has a blue line you’re well and truly on your way to achieving that single parent status you yearn for. When you tell your mum and dad it’s probably best to have a clear exit to the front door in case of things turning ugly. You must make sure that your school know that your in the family way, but it’s probably best not to blurt it out during double history, but the upside is you now get out of games, with no more asking Bev to forge notes that say you’ve been on your period for the past 24 months non-stop.

Chapter three: Telling the Lad. You must tell the lad who is to become the baby’s father that he now has responsibilities, you mustn’t let his indifference upset you, as you don’t want him involved with your child’s upbringing, remember your goal is single parenting: to be honest he’ll probably be useless anyway. Tell him he’s got to send you money from his benefits for nappies, formula and a gold-plated chain: it’s important to treat yourself.

Chapter four: Once the Baby Arrives. You’ve carried your new born for nine-months, struggled with weight gain as you were only able to eat KFC and Mac-i-dees during the pregnancy, and got stretch marks that mean a week in Magaluf is off the agenda. Scrape hair back as tight as possible into a severe plait: remember pram-face is a way of life not just a fashion statement, call Shaz and Bev and ask them to meet you with a packet of Mayfair fags and a couple of bottles of White Lightning. After fastening new gold=plated chain around neck, ignoring the green mark left from wearing it the previous day, palm said new born off onto parents and meet your mates behind the Co-Op. You can now confidently call yourself a single parent.