Hello. Goodbye.

He texts me to say that the dogs were exhausted (destroyed, as he says) when he left for work.

He had taken them out for a walk and he lets them play, even in the extreme temperatures that we’ve been having (up to 36° with a “feel like” of the low 40s). But he had taken them out early, so it wasn’t so hot (still, it was 30° at 7.30).

He said they were so exhausted that they didn’t even say hello to him before he left for work.

Italians have a bit of a problem with “hello” and “goodbye” since they don’t differentiate. Salutare, ciao, salve, etc. are used for both hello and goodbye. They don’t really quite get (I’m SURE Chiara does ;-) ) when is the right time to use “hello” or “goodbye”.

As a default “hello” is used.

I try and explain, in a reply text that he should have said “goodbye” and not “hello” as “hello” is used when first meeting/seeing someone and “goodbye” is used when leaving.

However, F is a stubborn barsteward sometimes. He replied that he understood but that, if the dogs don’t see him for 2 seconds it is like the first time they have met. Which is, of course, kind of true.

And it made me laugh. And that’s why I love him.

I replied that he is the only person that will argue with me if I try to correct bad English – and I don’t often do it with him!

But the argument did have a point, as those of you with dogs will know.

The video of Hello Goodbye by The Beatles was the obvious choice :-)

Something that didn’t happen is reported as fact

Someone posted an article on their Facebook wall.

To it, that someone added – “Can’t they just piss off”. The title of the article was “Girls Fined for Wearing Swimsuits That Offend Muslims”. Underneath was a Muslim in an abaya (I think) on a beach next to a woman sunbathing in a bikini. Oh my God, you may think, it must be true what they say about Muslims trying to take over the world!

Except, when you read the article, it’s not quite as it seems. I clicked upon it because, underneath the headline, it read: “Submit, convert, or pay a fine. When you go to a beach now in Italy, you better …….”

Apart from the terrible grammar, my attention was caught by the “in Italy” and I really found it hard to believe. Here, where sun-worshipping is a national sport and pretty much essential to most of the population, with the beaches packed solid with scantily-clad sunbathers, how could this possibly be true?

So, I started reading. Firstly, this was by a right-wing, so-called “media” website (on which, by the way, one of the buttons was entitled “ArmedandFemale”), a part of Liberty Alliance (which, of course means Liberty for all as long as you agree with us) – but, that aside, who could know? It may be true?

The first paragraph was:
“Civilization jihad is a process that Islam uses to methodically transform nations. It has proven to be an effective way to take over without violence.
Political correctness and ignorance are their best weapons.
Civilization jihad works by infiltration, then complaints about our culture, pushing for acceptance of islamic practices and threats of lawsuits over non conformity.”

OK, I may disagree with the overall argument but it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen.

Paragraph two:

“An example: The report about three women being fined for wearing swimsuits on a beach that were offensive to muslims, has generated a firestorm in responses. Though it has proven difficult to confirm, it is similiar to what is confirmed and already happening around the world in places where Islam is attempting to control the culture.”

Now this I have a bit more or a problem with. “proven difficult to confirm” – meaning it is just hearsay. So not real then? “Already happening around the world” – well, yes, but I think you’ll find this is in predominately Muslim countries – which is NOT the UK nor the USA and, certainly, not in very Catholic Italy!

Para three:
“There are already discussions by our own legislators of making negative speech about Islam a crime.”

Hmm. So, they are considering laws to make negative speech about Islam a crime, eh? Would that be similar to the non-discrimination laws they brought in some time ago, to a great deal of opposition, saying that you can’t racially abuse black people? Yes. It should be the duty of most people to ensure that they don’t verbally abuse anyone else, no matter what their race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. And, surely, as Americans for Liberty of all, you would agree with that. Or not? Does it only apply to the things that you, personally agree with?

Para four:
“It IS a perfect example of civilization jihad that the muslim brotherhood uses in their documented plan for the destruction of a nation from within.
Here was the basis of the report: ”

Hmm. “documented”? By whom? Where are the documents? And this hearsay which can’t be confirmed has suddenly become a “report”!

Para five:
“Submit, convert, or pay a fine.
When you go to the beach now in Italy, you better pack a full set of loose clothes and a hajib or get ready to shell out some serious money. This, according to a number of media outlets, reporting on an alleged case in Messina, Italy.”

I’m specifically ignoring the awful grammar. “a number of media outlets” – but not named. And, given this “media outlet”, were they even real media or something like this website? And these outlets were “reporting” on an “alleged case”. Again, not substantiated and so, quite possibly not real at all!

Para six:
“Reportedly, a justice of the peace in Messina, Italy has fined three girls an amount of approximately $3,500 each for wearing what is considered common beach wear in Italy, because the uncovered skin offended some Saudi Arabian tourists who were also at the private resort of Taormina.”

This implies that it was true. Except, remember the use of the words “alleged” and “difficult to confirm” used before. If this was really done by a Justice of the Peace, there would be hard facts and transcripts.

Para seven:
“Whether this is actually factual or not is not the issue… it is certainly the direction civilization jihad takes a nation.”

WHAT????? If you’re going to put the headline you have, it’d better be factual! Being factual IS the issue. Really, the second part doesn’t even make any sense.

To be honest with you, at this point I stopped reading. If it’s not factual then it’s not true and so the headline and everything else is just a load of crap. Worse, it’s being paraded as real and “happening”. However, for completeness (and this post) I continued.

Para eight:
“It has become common place for Muslims to make demands upon others to adhere to their standards, so it should not come as too great of a surprise that they filed their complaint.”

As opposed, of course, to the baying mob who want to impose their standards! Hahahahahahahahahaha

Para nine:
“This is what Islamization of a free society is all about and it is coming to YOUR state, your town, your neighborhood soon if you don’t fight back. This case happened in Italy. It is no accident. It is part of the muslim brotherhood’s plan for the destruction of a country from within. It is a very carefully planned, full proof meticulous process of slow but deliberate transformation….. Islamization.”

Second sentence first; This case DID NOT happen in Italy. It is a scare story and cannot be confirmed or verified. It is, in fact a GREAT BIG LIE! And, who are these “muslim brotherhood” people? Oh yes, they are the semi-political party in Egypt! So, they aren’t in the USA and they are NOT bringing this big plan for the destruction of the USA to you, the USA, any time. Neither sooner or later. This is just a hate-filled, illogical, lying rant!

Para ten:
“Don’t be fooled. What happens over there is already a process underway here in America.”

Over where? In Italy? Are you out of your fucking mind? But, of course, the majority of the small-minded people in the USA who read this, won’t actually know how to find the facts and, so, will be taken hook, line and sinker by this trash “report”.

Para eleven:
“The encroachment of Sharia Law continues virtually unchecked.. We have over 50 court cases in this country where American judges have allowed Sharia law to trump Constitutional law in cases involving Muslims.”

Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish! And, if the writer doesn’t know this then they are stupid. Being stupid doesn’t stop them writing which, unfortunately, makes them dangerous.

Stupid and dangerous is NOT a good combination. God help America if this is the type of person it turns out.

Para twelve:
“Think situations like this are an outrage? Get ready America…. They are here and the demands to submit to “their way” are already happening all around us.”

This whole “report” is an outrage and I am constantly shocked by the lack of any outrage to articles like this.

So, let me summarise for you.

Something didn’t happen but let’s say it did and express our hatred at a group of people who believe in something that doesn’t fit with our idea of what should be believed. Are we ready? Everybody hate these people!

I’m afraid I won’t link to the “article” as I don’t want them to get any more traffic but I have quoted it word for word (exactly as it was written.)

The real lesson behind this is: read each thing with scepticism and DON’T believe everything you read, especially on the Internet.

Marrone, maroon, catsagna and Chesternut 5

This, being Autumn, in Italy, is the time for chestnuts. I actually quite like chestnuts although F can’t stand them. Ah well.

However, if you buy the candied version, they are called marron glacé – the French name.

So, this morning I’m chatting with my colleague over coffee (you know, the one who has “blonde moments”) and, as she often does, she will be talking about something and then say to me,

“theword, you know what is?”

In this case, the word was castagna. Now, I do know what this means but sometimes I just reply “no”, as I did this morning.

She said, “oh, you know, marron?” This made me laugh. I explained that this was a French word, not English.

She seemed surprised by this. “But, Marron 5?”

This made me laugh more. What she meant was Maroon 5, the group. I had to explain that maroon is not the same as marron. But what really made me laugh is that all this time she has been thinking of Maroon 5 as Chestnut 5!

I said that the word was a colour – a sort of dark red (I always thought a kind of purplish-red although when I looked it up it’s supposed to be a brownish-red, the name having come from the French word for chestnut).

So, all these things turn a kind of full circle – castagna (It) = marrone (It) [both a type of chestnut and a colour] = marron (Fr) [as in marron glacé] = chestnut (Eng) which could = a darker version of maroon (Eng) [colour] = the first part of the name of a group, Maroon 5!

Of course, there is also a friend of F’s who regularly calls castagna “chesternuts” which always makes me smile.

I further explained to my colleague that Maroon 5 was a group name and said that, for example, a famous (in Italy) group from the 70s or 80s was Pooh – which, of course, could be translated as cacca as pooh is an alternative spelling of poo. Of course there is also Winnie-the-Pooh – but I always thought that name had something to do with Christopher Robin’s idea of fun, since children always think bodily functions are funny.

Anyway, while we’re here, let’s have a bit of Maroon 5:

and a little bit of I Pooh [The Shit, if you like] (who, if you’re not Italian, I’ll bet you’ve never heard of!):

Some English words. Well, not really but, as they say, you learn something every day.

You see, being in a foreign country, I’m actually learning more English than I would if I were still in the UK.

Take one of those words.

Lacksidaisical. Great word, isn’t it. Meaning lazy/not paying attention.

Except it’s not. I’ve used this word so many times over the years. Pronouncing it lack – see – daisy – ical. No one has ever said, “no, you’ve got it wrong.” Of course, I’ve never actually written it down as I’ve never had to use it when writing but, if I had, I would have spelt it as I did above.

Today (courtesy of Lola) I find that after 40-odd years of using it, I would have spelt it wrong if I had written it and, worse, I’ve been pronouncing it wrong all this time! It is, of course, lackadaisical. There is no “see” in it at all! In fact, neither in the spelling nor the pronunciation is there an “s” after the “lack”!

And then there is the word “cutch”. We used it in my family a lot. “Give me a cutch,” we’d say, meaning give me a cuddle or a hug. Or, “cutch up to me” – cuddle up to me.

Of course, we lived on the Welsh border and so, I suppose, it was inevitable that we would “borrow” some Welsh words. And, previously unbeknown to me, this is a Welsh word and, in fact, the word is cwtch (the “w” sounding like an English “u”).

So, all this time, I knew some Welsh words (I think there were others that we used but don’t remember them now).

Do you have any words like this?

This is the Endy ……. and other Italian/English things.

I don’t and can’t get upset about it.

F’s Mum has a problem with my name and it’s become a bit of a joke within the family. Even though she has been corrected a number of times, she still calls me Wendy. It makes me laugh and I thought it was only her but it seems not.

M, as I mentioned in a previous post, booked tables in the two restaurants for me. As she booked the table, in both cases, she told them that it was Andy with a “y” (ipsilon), just to be clear.

For Griffone, the table was, indeed, reserved. There was a handwritten note on the table with my name. Except it wasn’t quite my name – it was, in fact, written as Endy.

It made me smile.

On the differences between the language, Italians (those who know something of English) realise that adding “ly” to an adjective creates an adverb. So quick becomes quickly, horrible becomes horribly, etc.

Except, of course, for exceptions. One of these exceptions is “hard”, especially used in situations where you mean “a lot” – like work.

It makes me laugh to read “I was working hardly” when what they mean is “I was working hard” :-) But it’s not really their fault – the rule is well and truly broken for this word.

And, of course, there are those words that we use that have more than one meaning – except that, the meanings don’t always coincide – making them, somewhat, “false friends”. If you say that someone is/seems miserable you mean (quite clearly) that they are/seem unhappy, sad, etc.

Unfortunately, miserabile, in Italian, when used to describe a person, is something like low-life or wretch. Not quite the same thing.

Saving? Where? Oh – you mean NOT spending more than before? Is that saving? Really?

Imagine I spend €300 per month, every month.

Then imagine that the government decide to increase sales tax (VAT/IVA) or something from next month. It will mean that, in future, instead of spending €300 I will have to spend €350.

Then, imagine that the government decide to postpone the tax increase until, let’s say, the end of the year.

So, instead of spending €300, as I do now, I will be spending €300 – the same – until the end of the year.

Let me just count out how much I have ‘saved’. Oh, I see that, in fact I have not saved anything but I will not be spending extra for a little while yet.

Compare this with:

I spend €300 per month every month.

The government CUT taxes from next month. It will mean that, instead of spending €300 per month, I will be spending €250 per month. In this case I will be spending €50 less and, so I can actually ‘save’ that money. It’s a kind of bonus to me and is a real saving since I will, actually, be paying LESS.

People’s ideas of ‘saving’ is incredible. The only way you save anything is to spend LESS than you did before.

V used to try this thing with me some times, a long time ago, and it’s logic was of the very worst kind.

The little scenario went like this:

“Do you know how much I saved with this shirt?”

“Well, as you actually SPENT money, I can’t see how you have SAVED any at all!”

“But it was a bargain”

OK, so I paraphrase a lot – but you get the picture. I know other people who do this – it’s not just him.

But back to recent news.

If a tax increase is not put into effect, nobody has SAVED anything at all. It does mean that, in the future, people will not have to spend as much as they might, but it hasn’t made anything cheaper.

And so, this latest so-called U-turn by the government of the UK to NOT put up the tax on petrol (gas to you, Gail) as had been planned, is being lauded and trashed by all and sundry at the same time. But it seems, to me, that everyone is missing the point or points.

This decision to postpone the tax hike will NOT mean that anyone will SAVE money. They will just not spend as much as they might have done.

And this is no U-turn. The hike is not cancelled – merely postponed.

So here is something that is being done in response to the beating they were getting for daring to increase a tax when the country is all but down the drain (See my post Death Valley – UK High Street). But don’t think, for a moment, that anyone will be saving anything.

And then there was this little piece with a video of the Newsnight “interview”

… and then this stupidness – in the same paper!

To be honest, she deserved everything she got. The answer to “When did you know?” is very simple and involves a time or, at least, a date. From there on, it was always going to be downhill.

But, then, if they can equate ‘saving’ to ‘not having to spend more’ then, I guess, we’re all doomed. Might as well have V go and be Prime Minister! :-(

I just ain’t lovin it, innit? OK?

Of course, I explain, English is an evolving language, as are most.

I try to explain that, even if ‘I’m loving your new coat’ can be heard (or something similar) everywhere in the UK, it doesn’t make it grammatically correct. A bit like innit, innit?

I then try to explain that inteligent people often take up these new ‘grammar’ forms in mockery.

But, then, at what point does the whole thing become a mockery as it becomes normal use?

I explain that I do it too (well, not so much with innit unless I’m trying to be clever). I use I’m loving something as if it were proper grammar. In fact, I wonder how many people in the UK would even know that I’m loving something is NOT grammatically correct. And, so, at what point does it pass into a well-known and well-used phrase?

I mean, this form of continuous verb has been used for ages already. When does it stop being bad grammar and just becomes grammar? And who decides anyway?

Like ‘And’ and ‘But’ to start sentences – terrible but justified by use?


Does my English look good in this?

“What sort of English do you want?”

I should ask this, really.

In any case, I wouldn’t get the right answer.

But I do try to explain. If I were to say “Me to go cinema this night”, I’m sure you would understand that I am going to the cinema this evening. Is it good English? Well, no, of course not if, by good English you mean to say ‘like a native’.

But even that is not quite correct. Take, for example, “If I was to come to urs ….” Written by a native speaker or some ‘useless’ foreigner? Of course, it would be made by normal English speakers in the UK. Therefore ‘like a native’ is a bit misleading, is it not, since it should read “If I were to come to your house …”?

So, exactly what is ‘good’ English? And, to live or converse with people in the UK, how good does it have to be?

This article, then, seeks to define how ‘good’ good should be and advises that ‘not very good’ is, in fact, good enough.

And I agree. And, anyway, it’s only by use, by reading, by listening (and, maybe, by having a good teacher/copy editor – ahem!) to good English that we can hope to improve our own.

In any event, English evolves simply because native English speakers adjust the language and grammar to suit themselves. I wonder, indeed, how long it will take for your and you’re to just become ur or their, there and they’re to become a singly-spelt word, maybe ther? Already ur is used, not only in texting but also in emails and, I guess, any time the word is written.

After all, with just the two lettas, its quicka, init?

The Chritsmas Spirit; Friends from across the water.

“Did you like the thing on the table in the lounge?”; he grins as he asks this of me.

“What thing?”, I ask back. Of course, I knew he had been there, dropping off some jars of antipasto stuff for Christmas day lunch. But they had been in the kitchen. Although I had put some washing out to dry in the lounge I had, as normal, failed to look at anything. I am a man. It’s not an excuse – just a fact.

He is obviously excited about it. In fact, he seems very excited about Christmas all round. Which is lovely.

I go back home and look on the table. There is a festive table centrepiece. All green and gold and red. I tell him it is lovely – which it is – but more for the fact that he is making such an effort with everything this year. Not that it is really effort – at least, I think he’s doing it because he’s really looking forward to it.

The previous morning, we had gone for breakfast and, on the way back, we popped into the Chinese shop round the corner from me. He had decided that he didn’t like the lights round the doorways in the lounge. They were not the right shade of white. He bought two more sets of lights that were the right shade of white.

In the evening we went to Baia Chia – the Sardinian restaurant. A colleague (of mine from 18 years ago, he said – and it was probably true) and his wife (whom I had never met) are over in Milan and we had agreed to go out. Also, Stef was over from the US. An also joined us and so we were six.

We had a fabulous meal. I miss Stef and Nicole quite a lot so it was particularly good to see him. He has gone very American though and all the good work I had put into teaching him British English has been for nothing. Obviously, it’s OK but it was funny to hear him speak with an American accent and use words live ‘beverages’ when he meant ‘drinks’.

We also had a lot to drink. Indeed, between the six of us we must have had the best part of two bottles of Mirto after all the wine! F was a little drunk. When we arrived home, he started trying to put up the new lights. I told him not to do it because he was drunk. He did one but left the other until the morning, thank goodness.

And now the flat is nearly ready. The only room which has not had the full ‘spring clean’ is the bedroom – to be done on Christmas Eve.

And, unusually for me, I did some Christmas shopping on Sunday! This just shows how much I am into the Christmas spirit this year. This could be the very best Christmas ever :-D