194 ways to reply to "Come va?"

Umberto Eco In 1992 Umberto Eco published Il secondo diario minimo (Partial English translation: How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays - 1998).
In a section of this work Eco imagines the answers that some historical figures might give to "Come va?" - literally "How is it going?" - the typical 'How are you?' question in Italian (the Italian "Come stai?" refers to health mainly, or is used when people meet after a long separation). Each character answers with a sentence or a phrase linked to his or her character or works, and the author plays on the double meaning that each answer may have.
Umberto Eco (5 January 1932 - 19 February 2016) was an Italian novelist, literary critic, philosopher, semiotician and university professor, best known internationally for his 1980 historical mystery novel Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose).
* * * * *
Icaro: "Uno schianto."
Icarus, "A crash."
Metaphorically, someone in Italian is defined "uno schianto" if he or she looks wonderfully attractive, gorgeous.
* * * * *
Proserpina: "Mi sento giù."
Proserpina: "I'm feeling down."
Proserpina was the Latin counterpart of Persephone, abducted into the underworld by Hades (Pluto)
* * * * *
Prometeo: "Mi rode..."
Prometheus: "Something is biting at me..."
Prometheus is chained to a rock in the Caucasus, where his liver is eaten daily by an eagle. He was punished by Zeus for having donated fire to mankind.
* * * * *
Teseo: "Sinché mi danno corda..."
Theseus: "As long as I am given rope ..."
The Italian idiom means "to encourage someone to go on freely". Theseus was given by Ariadne a ball of thread, so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth.
* * * * *
Edipo: "La mamma è contenta."
Oedipus: "Mother is happy."
* * * * *
Damocle: "Potrebbe andar peggio."
Damocles: "It could be worse."
If the sword drops...
* * * * *
Priapo: "Cazzi miei."
Priapus: "My cocks."
It's an Italian saying corresponding to "none of your business". Priapus was a fertility god, represented in permanent erection.
* * * * *
Ulisse: "Siamo a cavallo."
Ulysses: "We're riding."
The Italian saying corresponds to " we are on the right way, everything will turn for the better". Reference is to the stratagem of the Trojan horse.
* * * * *
Omero: "Me la vedo nera."
Homer: "I see it black."
It means that prospects are gloomy. Reference is to Homer's blindness.
* * * * *
Eraclito: "Va, va..."
Heraclitus: "It goes, goes ..."
It means that things are going moderately fine. Heraclitus was the philosopher that put motion as the first principle.
* * * * *
Parmenide: "Non va."
Parmenides: "It does not go."
The idiom means things are going bad. For the Greek philosopher, change is impossible, existence is timeless and unchanging.
* * * * *
Talete: "Ho l'acqua alla gola."
Thales: "I have water up to my throat."
The saying refers to a desperate situation, especially on the financial side. The Greek philosopher identified water as the basic principle of the universe.
* * * * *
Epimenide: "Mentirei se glielo dicessi."
Epimenides: "I'd be lying if I told you."
Epimenides became associated with the famous paradox of a man from Crete saying "Cretans are always liars."
* * * * *
Gorgia: "Mah!"
Gorgias: "Who knows!"
Gorgias was the philosopher of nihilism.
* * * * *
Demostene: "Difficile a dirsi."
Demosthenes: "Hard to say."
Demosthenes had a speech impediment that gave his sentences obscurity.
* * * * *
Pitagora: "Tutto quadra."
Pythagoras: "Everything fits."
The Italian idiom means everything is going into place. "Quadrare" means "to make something square", being the square a regular geometrical form.
* * * * *
Ippocrate: "Sinché c'è la salute..."
Hippocrates: "So long as there is health ..."
It's a common Italian idiom, be happy when you're healthy. Hippocrates was considered the father of modern medicine.
* * * * *
Socrate: "Non so."
Socrates: "I do not know."
The reference is to Socrates famous motto "I know that I do not know".
* * * * *
Diogene: "Da cani."
Diogenes: "Like dogs."
The saying, as in "vita da cani" means that things are going very badly. Diogenes was the founder of cynicism, that took its name from the Greek word for dog.
* * * * *
Platone: "Idealmente."
Plato: "Ideally."
Plato based his metaphysics on the theory of ideas.
* * * * *
Aristotele: "Mi sento in forma."
Aristotle: "I feel fit."
"Form" and "substance" were basic themes in Aristotle's philosophy.
* * * * *
Plotino: "Da Dio."
Plotinus: "Like a God."
Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One".
* * * * *
Catilina: "Sinché dura..."
Catiline: "As long as it goes on..."
Catiline was a Roman Senator of the 1st century BC who attempted to overthrow the Roman Republic and, in particular, the power of the aristocratic Senate.
* * * * *
Epicuro: "Di traverso."
Epicurus: "Sideways."
It means things are creating obstacles. Epicurus' teachings were about striving for an absence of pain and suffering.
* * * * *
Muzio Scevola: "Se solo mi dessero una mano..."
Muzio Scevola: "If someone just gave me a hand..."
Gaius Mucius Scaevola punished himself for not having succeeded in killing the enemy king by thrusting his right hand into a fire.
* * * * *
Attilio Regolo: "Sono in una botte di ferro."
Regulus: "I am in an iron barrel."
The saying means that someone is completely safe from problems, though the reference is to the killing of the Roman consul who was killed inside a barrel with iron spikes.
* * * * *
Fabio Massimo: "Un momento..."
Fabio Massimo: "Wait a minute..."
Quintus Fabius Maximus was famous as the "delayer" for his strategy in deploying troops during the Second Punic War and is regarded as the father of guerrilla warfare.
* * * * *
Giulio Cesare: "Sa, si vive per i figli..."
Julius Caesar: "You know, you live for your children ..."
Means that someone is making sacrifices for others - the irony of the quotation is that Brutus was Caesar's adopted son.
* * * * *
Lucifero: "Come Dio comanda."
Lucifer: "As God orders."
The saying is that everything is going perfectly.
* * * * *
Giobbe: "Non mi lamento."
Job: "I'm not complaining."
Job was the biblical patriarch who was hit by all possible disasters but never lost his faith.
* * * * *
Geremia: "Sapesse, ora le dico..."
Jeremiah: "You have to know, now I'll tell you ..."
The saying refers to some momentous event. Jeremiah was one of the major prophets of the Bible who could explain the reason for impending disasters.
* * * * *
Noè: "Guardi che mare."
Noah: "Look at that sea."
The saying echoes a Neapolitan love song "Guarda che luna, guarda che mare..."
* * * * *
Onan: "Mi accontento."
Onan: "I am content."
The saying is like "Things are ok". Onan was a biblical figure who refused to enter into a levirate marriage with his brother's widow and give her offspring, preferring to spill his semen to the ground.
* * * * *
Mosè: "Facendo le corna..."
Moses: "Making the horn signs..."
The expression is used when things go well but Italians do not feel like saying it, since this might bring bad luck. The sign of horns made with the small and pointing fingers extended and the two central fingers closed against the palm to send away bad luck. Moses was known as "horned" and represented as such in Michel Angelo's statue out of a mistranslation in Jerome's Vulgata of the Hebrew word "keren" which can mean either "radiated (light)" or "grew horns".
* * * * *
S. Antonio del deserto: "La vista è buona..."
St. Anthony in the Desert: "The view is good..."
It means that prospects are good.
* * * * *
Cheope: "A me basta un posticino al sole."
Cheops: "All I want is a little place in the sun."
It is an expression meaning that someone is satisfied with a little place in the sun, has not grand ambitions.
* * * * *
Shéhérazade: "In breve, ora Le dico..."
Scheherazade: "In short, now I'll tell you ..."
And she began to tell the stories of One Thousand and One Nights.
* * * * *
Boezio: "Mi consolo."
Boethius: "I find solace."
The saying means that someone is content with what he has, considering the situation around. Boetius was the author of "De Consolatione Philosophiae".
* * * * *
Carlo Magno: "Francamente bene."
Charlemagne: "Frankly well."
The pun is with his being the leader of the Franks.
* * * * *
Dante: "Sono al settimo cielo."
Dante: "I'm in the seventh heaven."
The idiom means "I at on top of heaven". The reference is to the spheres of Dante's Paradiso.
* * * * *
Averroè: "Io sto bene, io sto male."
Averroes: "I'm fine, I'm sick."
That is, everything contains its opposite.
* * * * *
Abelardo: "Certo non mi girano le scatole."
Abelard: "Sure my boxes are not spinning."
That is, things are fine. "Scatole" is a non-vulgar euphemism to refer to testicles, and when someone is getting angry the "boxes" start spinning. Abelard was castrated by his enemies to punish him for his love for Heloise.
* * * * *
Giovanna d'Arco: "Fa caldo."
Joan of Arc: "It's hot."
* * * * *
San Tommaso: "Tutto sommato, bene."
St. Thomas: "All in all, good."
St. Thomas philosophy was based on the idea of the prevalence of good.
* * * * *
Occam: "Bene, suppongo."
Occam: "Well, I suppose."
Occam's razor is a problem-solving principle stating that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
* * * * *
Nostradamus: "Quando?"
Nostradamus: "When?"
* * * * *
Erasmo: "Bene da matti."
Erasmus: "Well as madmen."
Reference is to Erasmus "Praise of Folly".
* * * * *
Colombo: "Si tira avanti..."
Colombo: "We keep going ..."
* * * * *
Alberti: "Le prospettive sono buone."
Alberti: "The prospects are good."
The pun is with "prospect" in its architectural meaning. Leon Battista Alberti was an Italian humanist artist and architect.
* * * * *
Copernico: "Bene, grazie al cielo."
Copernicus: "Well, thank heavens."
* * * * *
Lucrezia Borgia: "Prima beve qualcosa?"
Lucrezia Borgia: "First a little drink?"
Legend says that Lucrezia had a hollow ring that she used to poison drinks.
* * * * *
Giordano Bruno: "Infinitamente bene."
Giordano Bruno: "Infinitely good."
Among his works was "De l'infinito, universo e mondi".
* * * * *
Lorenzo de' Medici: "Magnificamente."
Lorenzo de Medici: "Magnificently."
From his nickname "The Magnificent".
* * * * *
Cartesio: "Bene, penso."
Descartes: "Well, I think."
From Decartes' famous aphorism "Cogito, ergo sum".
* * * * *
Berkeley: "Bene, mi sembra."
Berkeley: "Well, it seems to me."
George Berkeley was an Irish philosopher according to whom everything exists only insofar as it is perceived by the senses.
* * * * *
Hume: "Credo bene."
Hume: "I believe well."
David Hume is the founder of empiricism and scepticism.
* * * * *
Pascal: "Sa, ho tanti pensieri..."
Pascal: "You know, I have so many thoughts..."
Blaise Pascal was the author of a great many inventions.
* * * * *
Enrico VIII: "Io bene, è mia moglie che..."
Henry VIII: "I'm fine, it's my wife that..."
* * * * *
Galileo: "Gira bene."
Galileo: "It turns fine."
The idiom means that the fortune wheel is turning out well. In his Inquisition trial Galileo retracted his theory of gravitation, stating that the Earth is at the center of the universe. There is a popular, unproven aphorism by him, that after the trial he said "Eppur si muove" *but it moves nonetheless".
* * * * *
Torricelli: "Tra alti e bassi."
Torricelli: "Ups and downs."
Evangelista Torricelli is best known for his invention of the barometer.
* * * * *
Pontormo: "In una bella maniera."
Pontormo: "In a nice manner."
Jacopo Carucci, usually known as Jacopo da Pontormo, or simply Pontormo, was an Italian Mannerist painter and portraitist.
* * * * *
Desdemona: "Dormo tra due guanciali."
Desdemona: "I sleep between two pillows."
The idiom means that someone feels totally safe. The reference is to her death by suffocation to the hands of Othello.
* * * * *
Vivaldi: "Secondo l'estro."
Vivaldi: "According to the inspiration."
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was an Italian Baroque composer and virtuoso violinist.
* * * * *
El Greco: "Mi va tutto storto."
El Greco: "It goes all wrong."
The painter often displeased his sponsors and had many legal disputes.
* * * * *
Newton: "Regolarmente."
Newton: "Regularly."
Reference is to the theory of motion.
* * * * *
Leibniz: "Non potrebbe andar meglio."
Leibniz: "It could not go better."
Philosopher Leibniz is mostly known for his optimism, his conclusion that our Universe is the best possible one that God could have created.
* * * * *
Spinoza: "In sostanza, bene."
Spinoza: "In essence, good."
Spinoza uses rationality to join together the essence of God with the individual essence.
* * * * *
Shakespeare: "Come vi piace."
Shakespeare: "As You Like It."
* * * * *
Hobbes: "Tempo da lupi."
Hobbes: "Weather for wolves."
This is an Italian weather idiom. Thomas Hobbes based his philosophy on the assumption that a man is a wolf to other men: "homo homini lupus".
* * * * *
Fontenelle: "C'è chi sta bene e c'è chi sta male."
Fontenelle: "There are those who are good and those who are ill."
Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle believed that "The general order of nature seems very constant".
* * * * *
Vico: "Va e viene."
Vico: "It comes and goes."
The idiom means that sometimes it's good, sometimes bad. Giovan Battista Vico introduced a view of a cyclical nature of history.
* * * * *
Papin: "Ho la pressione alta."
Papin: "I have high pressure."
Denis Papin (1647 - c. 1712) invented the steam digester, the forerunner of the steam engine.
* * * * *
Montgolfier: "Ho la pressione bassa."
Montgolfier: "I have low pressure."
Joseph-Michel Montgolfier (1740 -1810) and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier (1745 - 1799) were the inventors of the Montgolfière-style hot air balloon.
* * * * *
Franklin: "Mi sento elettrizzato."
Franklin: "I feel electrified."
Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, is also known among for his ivention of the lightning rod.
* * * * *
Robespierre: "C'è da perderci la testa."
Robespierre: "One might lose his head."
The idiom means that the situation is really chaotic. Maximilien de Robespierre lost his life on the guillotine.
* * * * *
Marat: "Un bagno."
Marat: "A bath."
Jean-Paul Marat was assassinated while having a bath.
* * * * *
Casanova: "Vengo."
Casanova: "I'm coming."
The meaning is erotical. Giacomo Casanova was so famous for his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women that his name is now synonymous with "womanizer".
* * * * *
Schliemann: "Sotto sotto, bene."
Schliemann: "Deep down, all right."
Heinrich Schliemann was a pioneer in the field of archaeology.
* * * * *
Goethe: "C'è poca luce."
Goethe: "There is too little light."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe died in 1832 of apparent heart failure, and his last words, according to his doctor, were, "Mehr Licht!" ("More light!')
* * * * *
Beethoven: "Non mi sento bene."
Beethoven: "I do not feel (hear myself) well."
The pun lies in the Italian verb "sentire" which corresponds to both "feel" and "hear", and "mi" that is impersonal with sentire=feel, and reflexive with udire (hear myself). Reference is to the deafness of Ludwig van Beethoven.
* * * * *
Schubert: "Non mi interrompa, perdio!"
Schubert: "Do not interrupt me, by God!"
The composer developed the "interruption" compositional device.
* * * * *
Novalis: "Un sogno."
Novalis: "A dream."
Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, a Romantic poet whose main topic is night as the threshold of death.
* * * * *
Leopardi: "Sfotte?"
Leopardi: "Are you making fun of me?"
The Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi in his isolation as a youth believed the other young people were making fun of him.
* * * * *
Foscolo: "Dopo morto, meglio."
Foscolo: "After death, the better."
In his sonnets, Foscolo often described death as the only way to be freed from sufferings.
* * * * *
Manzoni: "Grazie a Dio, bene."
Manzoni: "Thank God, well."
Novelist Alessandro Manzoni deeply believed in God's providence, that helps man in times of need.
* * * * *
Sacher-Masoch: "Grazie a Dio, male."
Sacher-Masoch: "Thank God, badly."
Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch in his "The Legacy of Cain" expressed fantasies of dominant women, and from his name the term masochism is derived.
* * * * *
Sade: "A me bene."
Sade: "To me well."
Marquis de Sade was a French aristocrat, famous for his libertine sexuality.
* * * * *
D'Alembert e Diderot: "Non si può dire in due parole."
D'Alembert and Diderot: "You cannot say in two words."
Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert edited the "Encyclopédie" representing the thought of the Enlightenment.
* * * * *
Kant: "Situazione critica."
Kant: "The situation is critical."
Reference is to Immanuel Kant "Critique of Pure Reason" and "Critique of Practical Reason".
* * * * *
Hegel: "In sintesi, bene."
Hegel: "Synthesizing, good."
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was well known for his idealistic philosophy based on the thesis, antithesis, synthesis triad.
* * * * *
Schopenhauer: "La volontà non manca."
Schopenhauer: "The will is here."
The philosopher's main work was "The World as Will and Representation".
* * * * *
Cambronne: "Boccaccia mia..."
Cambronne: "Alas my bad mouth..."
The Italian idiom is used when we say something we shouldn't have and regret it; the whole expression is "Boccaccia mia statti zitta!", and was a meme of Provolino, an Italian puppet character who enjoyed huge success in Italy between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Cambronne at Waterloo is reported to have replied "M***e" to Wellington asking the French to surrender.
* * * * *
Marx: "Andrà meglio."
Marx: "It will get better."
Marx's belief that human society would progress toward a communist system.
* * * * *
Carlo Alberto: "A carte quarantotto."
Carlo Alberto: "Like forty-eight cards."
It means things will go very bad, as it happened with the 1848 revolutions in Italy
* * * * *
Paganini: "L'ho già detto."
Paganini: "I've already said it."
Paganini never gave encores.
* * * * *
Garibaldi: "Ho mille ragioni per essere contento."
Garibaldi: "I have a thousand reasons to be happy."
The number 1000 refers to Garibaldi' volunteers known as the "Mille".
* * * * *
Darwin: "Ci si adatta..."
Darwin: "We get adapted ..."
* * * * *
Livingstone: "Mi sento un po' perso."
Livingstone: "I feel a bit lost."
Livingstone completely lost contact with the outside world for six years, until Henry Stanley found him in a small village on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, reportedly asking the question: "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?".
* * * * *
Nievo: "Le dirò, da piccolo..."
Nievo: "I'll tell you, as a child ..."
Ippolito Nievo wrote an autobiographical novel "Le confessioni di un italiano".
* * * * *
Nietzsche: "Al di là del bene, grazie."
Nietzsche: "Beyond good, thank you."
Among the philosopher's books was "Beyond Good and Evil".
* * * * *
Mallarmé: "Sono andato in bianco."
Mallarmé: "I went in white (blank)."
The idiom is commonly used in Italian to signify that the prospects of a hot, passionate night changed to abstinence. The expression is connected to the investiture of knights, who had to pass the night before in prayer, dressed in white for purity. From here derives the meaning of the idiom of spending a sleepless night, or also a night in abstinence. The French poet Mallarmé often used "blank" spaces in his poems.
* * * * *
Proust: "Diamo tempo al tempo."
Proust: "Let's give it some time."
Marcel Proust is well-known for his monumental novel "À la recherche du temps perdu" (In Search of Lost Time).
* * * * *
Henry James: "Secondo i punti di vista."
Henry James: "According to the points of view."
Henry James used the "point of view " technique to tell a story from inside a character's head, with their thoughts, emotions, actions.
* * * * *
Kafka: "Mi sento un verme."
Kafka: "I feel I'm a worm."
Reference is to the celebrated short story where Gregor Samsa wakes up as a giant disgusting bug.
* * * * *
Musil: "Così così."
Musil: "So-so."
Robert Musil's famous novel was "The Man Without Qualities ".
* * * * *
Joyce: "Fine, yes yes yes."
Joyce: "Fine, yes yes yes."
The last word in Ulysses are "and yes I said yes I will Yes".
* * * * *
Nobel: "Sono in pieno boom."
Nobel: "I am booming."
Alfred Nobel is known for inventing dynamite.
* * * * *
Larousse: "In poche parole, male."
Larousse: "In a few words, badly."
Pierre Athanase Larousse was a French encyclopaedist who published many reference works, including the 15-volume "Grand dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle".
* * * * *
Madame Curie: "Sono raggiante."
Madame Curie: "I'm beaming."
From radioactivity...
* * * * *
Dracula: "Sono in vena."
Dracula: "I'm in a good vein".
In Italian if someone says "mi sento in vena di fare una cosa" it means he feels in his blood the desire and energy to do something (I feel like doing something).The Italian idiom derives from ancient medicine: doctors, feeling the pulse, believed that if it was strong the person had energy, "blood in his veins", stamina and courage. In modern medicine a needle is "in vena" if it is inserted correctly.
* * * * *
Boole: "O bene o male."
Boole: "Either good or bad."
George Boole was a British mathematician, considered the founder of Maths logic.
* * * * *
Croce: "Non possiamo non dirci in buone condizioni di spirito."
Croce: "We cannot tell we aren't in a good spirit."
Italian Philosopher Benedetto Croce was inspired by Hegel, and developed his idea of Spirit.
* * * * *
Wittgenstein: "Meglio non parlarne."
Wittgenstein: "Better not talk about it."
Ludwig Wittgenstein was a philosopher that studied the logic of language.
* * * * *
Cantor: "Nell'insieme, bene."
Cantor: "On the whole, good."
Georg Ferdinand Cantor was a German mathematician that invented the set theory, in Italian, teoria degli insiemi. The pun is in the Italian idiom "nell'insieme", which means "all in all".
* * * * *
Picasso: "Va a periodi."
Picasso: "It goes in periods."
The reference is to Picasso's different art "periods".
* * * * *
Lenin: "Cosa vuole che faccia?"
Lenin: "What do you want me to do?"
Lenin wrote "What Is to Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement".
* * * * *
Hitler: "Forse ho trovato la soluzione."
Hitler: "I may have found a solution."
The "Final Solution" to the Jewish "problem".
* * * * *
Heisenberg: "Dipende."
Heisenberg: "It depends."
Karl Heisenberg was a pioneer of quantum mechanics.
* * * * *
Pirandello: "Secondo chi?"
Pirandello: "According to whom?"
Italian writer Luigi Pirandello based his writing on the theory that everyone is "Uno, Nessuno e Centomila" that is different for any other person.
* * * * *
Hilton: "Gente che va, gente che viene."
Hilton: "People going, people coming."
Conrad Nicholson Hilton was the founder of the Hilton hotel chain.
* * * * *
Sotheby: "D'incanto."
Sotheby's: "Like a charm"
The Italian term "incanto" is charm, but also "auction".
* * * * *
Michaelstaedter: "Faccio di necessità virtù."
Michaelstaedter: "I make a virtue of necessity."
Carlo Raimondo Michelstaedter was an Italian philosopher that stated life must be accepted as it is.
* * * * *
Bloch: "Spero bene."
Bloch: "I hope well."
Ernst Bloch wrote "The Principle of Hope" where he stated that it is important to learn to hope.
* * * * *
Gallup: "Ora chiedo."
Gallup: "I'll ask."
In 1935, George Gallup founded the company that became known for its public opinion polls.
* * * * *
Freud: "Dica lei."
Freud: "You speak first."
On a psychoanalist's sofa.
* * * * *
D'Annunzio: "Va che è un piacere."
D'Annunzio: "It goes as a pleasure."
Italian writer Gabriele d'Annunzio authored a novel "Il Piacere".
* * * * *
Popper: "Provi che vado male."
Popper: "Show that I am not well."
Karl Popper argued that scientific theory, and human knowledge generally, is conjectural or hypothetical.
* * * * *
Lacan: "Ça va."
Lacan: "Ça va."
From Lacan's famous intervention od Louvain Conference in 1972: "Puisqu'on a eu la bonté de me présenter, je vais entrer dans la difficile tâche de vous faire entendre ce soir, disons, quelque chose. Je serais reconnaissant aux personnes qui sont à la périphérie de me signaler, de la façon qui leur conviendra, si on m'entend bien; comme je n'aime pas énormément cette sorte d'ustensile, je l'ai mis sous ma cravate. Mais, si par hasard, ça fait un obstacle, ayez la gentillesse de me le dire. On entend? On n'entend pas! Et comme ça, m'entend-on? Ça va? Alors la cravate donc était un obstacle".
* * * * *
Carducci: "Ça ira."
Carducci: "Ça ira."
Italian Poet Giosuè Carducci wrote 12 sonnets on the French Revolutions "Ça ira", which in French means "it'll be fine", and is the title of a song of the French Revolution.
* * * * *
Ungaretti: "Bene (a capo) grazie."
Ungaretti: "Well (new line), thanks."
Ungaretti belonged to a current of Modernist poets and had a style of poetry which often used just one word for each line.
* * * * *
Fermi: "O la va o la spacca."
Fermi: "Either all or nothing."
The studies of Enrico Fermi led to the fission of the atom. The idiom is of unknown origin, possibly derived from a carpenter's job.
* * * * *
Foucault: "Chi?"
Foucault: "Who?"
This may include a meta-meaning. Umberto Eco wrote a novel "Foucault's Pendulum" whose title is connected to the invention of scientist Léon Foucault. However, many claimed that this novel was influenced by the ideas of philosopher Michel Foucault, and the title therefore might be an author's joke.
* * * * *
Spielberg: "Bene, E.T.?"
Spielberg: "Well, E.T.?" (and you?)
The pun here is on the Italian alphabet letters "e", "t" which are read "e ti" and sound similar to "e tu?" meaning "And you?"
* * * * *
Queneau: "Bene grazie, grazie bene, brazie gene, eeaie bngrz, genera zie b."
Queneau: "Well thanks, Thank Swell, Thank Wells, Shawl Knelt, Awls Elk Nth. "
Raymond Queneau was a French writer notable for his "Exercises in Style", a collection of 99 retellings of the same story, each in a different style.
* * * * *
Camus: "Di peste."
Camus: "Like a plague."
The Plague (French: La Peste) is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947, that tells the story of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran
* * * * *
Mishima: "A pancia vuota."
Mishima: "With an empty stomach."
Writer Yukio Mishima stabbed himself in the abdomen to perform the ritual seppuku sacrifice.
* * * * *
Eichmann: "Mi sento più sollevato..."
Eichmann: "I feel more lifted..."
Adolf Eichmann was executed by hanging.
* * * * *
Vittorio Emanuele III. "Mi lasci perdere..."
Vittorio Emanuele III. "Please leave me..."
Perdere means also to lose, and king Vittorio Emanuele lost the crown when Italy became a republic.
* * * * *
Pitecantropo: "C'è ancora un po' di coda, occorre attendere."
Pitecantropo: "There is still a little tail, you must wait."
The Italian term "coda" also means "queue".
* * * * *
Matusalemme: "Tiro a campare."
Methuselah: "I aim at going on living."
* * * * *
Mitridate: "Ci si abitua."
Mithridates: "You get used to it."
Known as "the poison king" Mithridates VI, the King of Pontus, so feared being poisoned that he regularly ingested small doses, aiming to develop immunity.
* * * * *
Crisippo: "Se è giorno va bene, ma è giorno, dunque va bene."
Chrysippus: "If it is day it is fine, but it is day, then it's fine."
Chrysippus developed a syllogistic system of deduction in which he made use of basic arguments called indemonstrable syllogisms, which played the role of axioms.
* * * * *
Apuleio: "Ih-ah!"
Apuleius: "hee-haw!"
Apuleius was the author of "Asinus Aureus".
* * * * *
Giovanni Battista: "Bene, ora viene lo spogliarello!"
John the Baptist: "Well, now the striptease is coming!"
The Baptist was beheaded as a request from Salomé, Herod's stepdaughter, who danced before the king.
* * * * *
Cleopatra: "Ho qualcosa sullo stomaco..."
Cleopatra: "I have something on my stomach..."
She killed herself by placing a snake on her bosom, and died of the bite.
* * * * *
Gesù: "Sopravvivo."
Jesus: "I survive."
* * * * *
Lazzaro: "Mi sento rivivere."
Lazarus: "I feel revived."
* * * * *
Giuda: "Al bacio."
Judah: "Like kissing."
The Italian idiom means that something comes out perfectly. It can be accompanied by a gesture of a kiss.
* * * * *
Pilato: "Be', una mano lava l'altra."
Pilate: "Well, one hand washes the other."
* * * * *
San Pietro: "Mi sento un cerchio alla testa."
St. Peter: "I feel a circle around my head."
The saint's halo.
* * * * *
San Giovanni: "È la fine del mondo!"
St. John: "It's the end of the world!"
The Italian idiom means that something or someone is fantastic. Reference is to the Book of Revelation, or simply Revelation or Apocalypse; The traditional attribution to the apostle John is not unanimously recognized. According to tradition, this text was written by the same author of the Gospel of John.
* * * * *
Nerone: "Guardi che luce."
Nero: "Look at that light."
... from the fire of Rome.
* * * * *
Filippide: "Puf... puf!"
Pheidippides: "Poof... poof!"
The runner of the first marathon.
* * * * *
San Lorenzo: "Da una parte, bene."
St. Lawrence: "On the one side, good."
The martyr was placed on a large gridiron, with coals beneath it. After he had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, "I'm well done. Turn me over!".
* * * * *
Costantino: "Ci ho messo una croce sopra."
Constantine: "I crossed it out."
The Italian idiom means that someone gave up a project. Emperor Constantine had a vision before the battle against Maxentius, that he would be victorious if he substituted the imperial eagles on the soldiers' standards with the cross.
* * * * *
Maometto: "Male, vado in montagna."
Muhammad: "Badly, I'm going to the mountain."
From the quote "If the mountain won't come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain".
* * * * *
Omar Khayyam: "Hic!"
Omar Khayyam: "Hic!"
In his poem "Rubaiyat" Khayyam often exalted the qualities of wine. "Hic" is an approximation to the sound of a hiccup, used to indicate drunkenness.
* * * * *
Ludovico il Bavaro: "Sto facendo una dieta."
Ludwig of Bavaria: "I'm on a diet."
The Imperial Diet was the general assembly, of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire.
* * * * *
Savonarola: "È il fumo che mi fa male."
Savonarola: "It's the smoke that hurts me."
Girolamo Savonarola was burnt at the stake.
* * * * *
Orlando: "Scusi, vado di furia."
Orlando: "Sorry, I'm in a hurry."
Orlando was the protagonist od Ludovico Ariosto's poem "Orlando Furioso".
* * * * *
Hieronymus Bosch: "Ma che diavolo vuole?"
Hieronymus Bosch: "What the hell do you want?"
The painter was famous for his hellish landscapes.
* * * * *
Cyrano: "A naso, bene."
Cyrano: "Following my nose, fine."
The Italian idiom "a naso" means "at a first impression".
* * * * *
Volta: "Più o meno..."
Volta : "Plus or minus (More or less)..."
In Italian "più" corresponds to the English "more" and "plus", and "meno" to both "minus" and "less". Alessandro Volta made the famous experiments that proved the existence of positive and negative charges.
* * * * *
Pietro Micca: "Non ha letto che è proibito fum..."
Pietro Micca: "He did not read that smoking is forb..."
He was a Piedmontese soldier who sacrificed his life in the defence of Turin (1706) using a very short fuse to make gunpowder explode.
* * * * *
Jacquard: "Faccio la spola."
Jacquard: "I spin here and there."
The spola is a textile tool (shuttle). The Italian idiom means to go from one place to another, as of commuters.
* * * * *
Poe: "Un crollo."
Poe: "A fall."
This comes from the Italian translation of "The Fall of the House of Usher."
* * * * *
De Quincey: "Uno sballo."
De Quincey: "A blast."
Thomas De Quincey is known for his "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater" (1821). When someone is high on drugs, in Italian the expression "sballo" is common.
* * * * *
Malthus: "C'è una ressa..."
Malthus: "There's a crowd ..."
Robert Malthus was an English scholar, influential in the fields of political economy and demography.
* * * * *
Winckelmann: "Domanda classica..."
Winckelmann: "A classic question..."
Johann Joachim Winckelmann was a German art historian and archaeologist. His masterpiece Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums ("The History of Art in Antiquity"), influenced greatly European culture.
* * * * *
Napoleone: "Mi sento isolato."
Napoleon: "I feel isolated."
"Isolato" refers to being stranded on an island (=isola).
* * * * *
Dickens: "Tempi duri, ma ho grandi speranze."
Dickens: "Hard times, but I have high expectations."
From Dickens' two novels.
* * * * *
Bellini: "Secondo la norma."
Bellini: "According to the norm."
Norma is Vincenzo Bellini's famous opera.
* * * * *
Daguerre: "La faccenda si sviluppa bene."
Daguerre: "The matter is developing well."
The reference is to photographic processing or development. Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre was a French artist and photographer, recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography.
* * * * *
Lumière: "Attento al treno!"
Lumière: "Watch out for the train!"
"L'arrivée d'un train à la Ciotat" is an 1895 French short black-and-white silent documentary film directed and produced by Auguste and Louis Lumière. The film is associated with an urban legend, that when the film was first shown, the audience was so shocked by the moving image of a life-sized train coming directly at them that many screamed and ran away.
* * * * *
Gandhi: "L'appetito non manca."
Gandhi: "Appetite is not missing."
Mahatma Gandhi undertook 17 fasts during India's freedom movement.
* * * * *
Agatha Christie: "Indovini."
Agatha Christie: "Guess."
* * * * *
Einstein: "Rispetto a chi?"
Einstein: "In relation to whom?"
* * * * *
Jahier: "Per me o per gli alpini?"
Jahier: "For me or for the alpine corps?"
Piero Jahier was an Italian writer whose most famous work is "Con me e con gli alpini".
* * * * *
Stakanov: "Non vedo l'ora che arrivi ferragosto."
Stakanov: "I cannot wait for 15th August to come."
Ferragosto is a traditional holiday period, where all factories in Italy are closed. Alexey Grigoryevich Stakhanov was a miner in the Soviet Union, Hero of Socialist Labor (1970), who became famous in 1935 during a campaign intended to increase worker productivity.
* * * * *
Casorati: "Sono felice."
Casorati: "I am happy."
Felice Casorati was an Italian painter. The pun is with his first name.
* * * * *
Virginia Woolf: "Speriamo che domani faccia bel tempo."
Virginia Woolf: "Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be good."
A reference to the trip that is the theme in "To the Lighthouse", that is postponed until the end of the book.
* * * * *
McLuhan: "Mezzo e mezzo."
McLuhan: "Half and half." (medium and medium)
Herbert Marshall McLuhan was an expert of the study of media theory. The pun is on the word "mezzo" which means both "half" and "medium".
* * * * *
Piero Manzoni: "Di merda."
Piero Manzoni: "Like shit."
An Italian artist, author of a modernist work titled Artist's Shit (Merda d'Artista)
* * * * *
Eliot: "Una desolazione."
Eliot: "A waste."
From T.S.Eliot's "The Waste Land", in Italian "La terra desolata".
* * * * *
Heidegger: "Was heisst gehen?"
Heidegger: "Was heisst gehen?"
=What does "go" mean? Heidegger based his philosophy on a clear definition of terms.
* * * * *
Austin: "Bene, lo giuro."
Austin: "Good, I swear."
Probably refers to Austin Powers' meme "I swear"
* * * * *
Searle: "È una domanda?"
Searle: "Is it a question?"
John Rogers Searle analyzes speech acts introducing several possible meanings of sentences, as in:
Sam smokes habitually.
Does Sam smoke habitually?
Sam, smoke habitually!
Would that Sam smoked habitually!
* * * * *
Rawls: "C'è chi sta peggio."
Rawls: "There are those who are worse off."
John Rawls in "A Theory of Justice" argues that inequality is acceptable only if it is to the advantage of those who are worst-off.
* * * * *
Nelson Goodman: "Sono blerde di bile."
Nelson Goodman: "I'm grue from bile."
This is based on Goodman's riddle of induction. Goodman defined grue relative to an arbitrary but fixed time t as follows: An object is grue if and only if it is observed before t and is green, or else is not so observed and is blue. An object is bleen if and only if it is observed before t and is blue, or else is not so observed and is green.
* * * * *
Barnard: "Basta aver del cuore."
Barnard: "You just need a heart."
Christiaan Barnard was a South African cardiac surgeon who performed the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant.
* * * * *
Serena Grandi: "Ho un peso sul cuore."
Serena Grandi: "I have a burden on my heart."
Serena Grandi is an Italian actress, famous as an icon and sex symbol in Italian cinema.
* * * * *
Signora Riello: "Sono stufa."
Mrs Riello: "I'm fed up with it."
Stufa means "stove" and "fed up" with something. Riello is an Italian company maker of stoves (=stufa) and cookers.
* * * * *
Rubbia: "Come fisico, bene."
Rubbia: "Physically, well."
Fisico here means in health. Carlo Rubbia is an Italian physicist-
* * * * *
Da sceneggiare Leonardo, che si limita a sorridere ambiguamente.
Leonardo is to be staged, he just smiles ambiguously.
Reference is to Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile.