Not that you’ll ever need them. But, here is some random nonsense for you. Just because I love you *this much* …
1. So the other day I was thinking about the totally useless words you might hear once every couple years. Like spleen. Consider yourself fluent once you know the world “spleen” in Italian, right? Here you go: milza. Say it with me: “MEAL-zah.” Ahhh, now doesn’t that feel good?
I thought it meant gallbladder, to be perfectly honest with you. But no. That’s cistifellea. Which I can assure you, in twelve years in Italy, I have never needed. Not a once. Although, I have also heard it referred to as colecisti. This is my life.
2. Or what about con i controcazzi? Have you ever heard this phrase? Try looking it up in Google translate, I dare you. They won’t give you anything, not even a literal translation. That is what I’m here for. Because this is useless trivia that you need to devote some brain cells to. You could say to someone “Tu sei uno proprio con i controcazzi.” Literally we’d be saying “Wow, you’re really someone with the against-cocks.” I know, right? Makes no sense. But, you see, “cocks” as a colloquial expression has a great significance and contribution to make in the Italian lexicon. We need cazzi like we need to breathe. Just trust me on this one. (Yes my vulgar double entendre humor is entirely intentional. I’m not as ingenua as you thought, now am I?)
Wait. Then again. Don’t take my word on it. Just ask Antonella Clerici, who expressed this concept best on live television.
But frankly, if we really want a native speaker definition, let’s consult Yahoo Answers, oh wise source of all knowledge. Domanda (question): “Cosa sono i controcazzi?” (What are the counter-cocks?)
I controcazzi sono il di più, quello che ingigantisce la definizione di c..azzi. esempio vai a comprare un automobile nuova, il venditore ti descrive gli accessori base come c..azzi e gli optional come controcazzi. Quindi ti sei appena comprato una bella Automobile con i C..azzi e i Controcazzi. Ciao
The counter-cocks are something more, something that enlarges the definition of cazzi. For example, go to buy a new car, the dealer describes the base accessories to you as the cocks, and the optionals are the counter-cocks. Therefore, you’ve just bought yourself a nice car with both the cocks and the counter-cocks. Ciao.
Um, thanks, I think?
Personally, I prefer PaulfromItaly’s definition here. “Cool ass” As in, “he’s a cool ass player.” Yes, I think Paul has captured well the spirit of the counter cocks.
3. Or what about here in Rome, they say this thing when they want you to calm down, they say: Stai manzo! And then, laughingly, if you’re a native English speaker, they sometimes tell you, “Be beef!”
Yes, this is not normal. I agree. But in any case, be beef means the rough equivalent of “chill.”
No! OHMYGOD even Urban Dictionary has caught on to stai manzo. I am truly awed and at the same time humbled by my vast knowledge of international phraseology.
4. Or… hmmm. How about when they tell you Stai in campana! which is literally “Be in bell!” Or they say Devi stare proprio in campana “You really need to be in bell.” It’s like “be careful, watch out, be on your guard.”
5. Then there’s di coccio, as in “Lui è proprio di coccio.” Coccio is like terracotta pottery. Usually this phrase is accompanied by someone knocking on their head, or on the table, to indicate how hard it is. So it means they’re hard-headed or stubborn or even stupid. Not made out of crockery.
6. There’s also the always popular Me sto a tajà (Roman), which is like English “I’m cutting up” in idiomatic terminology, see definition number 5 here.
There you go folks: six for the road.
Now, go forth and talk about your spleen, and the spleens of others. xoxo