“The cat is on the table”. All the Italian students learning English language have repeated this apparently senseless sentence so far, the fact is that probably an Italian does not allow his cat to stay on the table in the dining room while an Englishman would.
Learning a language is learning a culture. In this frame I intend to analyze specific areas of the Italian language spoken by political characters to let non-Italian speakers understand.
The way the Italian politicians speak is indeed funny and in any expression there are a lot of hidden meanings as the dirt under the carpet.
The concept of retirement, for example, is quite simple, when you reach a certain age, you have to retire and you can get the pension.
In Italy everything is much more complicated, it depends on the sort of retirement you’re looking for, there are two different sorts, which are called “pensione d’anzianità” and “pensione di vecchiaia”.
“Anzianità” is a generic concept stating that a person has worked for an unspecified time: one day, ten years, thirty years.
“Vecchiaia” means that somebody is too old to work and the remaining capabilities the person has are not enough to continue to work effectively and safely.
The sentence “tu hai una certa anzianità” is to be translated literally “you have worked for a certain period of time”. The real and more appropriate translation woud be “If you do not want to work anymore, please vote for me and you will have the possibility to retire, somebody else will pay your pension”.
In the Eighties a lot of Italians, following to the “baby boom” of the Sixties, were allowed to retire after nineteen years, six months and one day: it is presumed that a lot of them are doing undeclared jobs to have a better standard of living.
No taxes are payed for that.
The concept of early retirement has even a more curious fall out in the political language because the politicians have invented a new expression: “I diritti acquisiti”, something that can be translated as “granted rights” which sounds pretty well but the reality is totally different.
A right is something to be granted to everybody, but it is now clear that is impossibile to grant an early retirement to everybody, so the coming generations will not have these sort of “diritti acquisiti”, this draws us to the conclusion that the right translation of “diritti acquisiti” is “privileges” and has nothing to do with rights.
These considerations are useful to understand the reason why the Italian political system is largely based on the debt, along with other nations having simular situations, but at a lower level. I do hope that this helps to understand the foggy way the Italian politicians talk to the people.
p.s. “Suggest me a cocktail”, asks the bartender the guest of an Italian lounge bar. “Anzianità or vecchiaia?”, replies the bartender. “What’s the difference?”, asks the client. “Well, if you want it to be paid by the State you can either have a drop of “anzianità” right now or “vecchiaia” at the end of the night, but if you get enough money from your job you can buy yourself whichever cocktail you like. Forget State assistance and vote for somebody else”.
L’Immagine è tratta da Dizionario Italiano Inglese