Every language has some linguistic clichés. Linguistic clichés are sayings that have been used so much that they have become trite, overly familiar or common place like: “light as a feather” or “no pain no gain”.
Of course, even in Italian there are many linguistic clichés. They all express thoughts and ideas that are usually widespread in our Italian culture.
Knowing and using Italian linguistic clichés can be important if you’re learning Italian because, according to a research, “using linguistic clichés trigger recognition and acceptance within the target culture”.
Some Italian linguistic clichés
1. Non ci sono più le mezze stagioni
Oh, how many times I’ve heard this sentence in Italy! As you probably know, one of the main topics people talk about is the weather. So, this sentence becomes particularly useful when someone’s complaining about the unusual temperature in autumn or spring and you don’t really know what to answer them. By telling them “non ci sono più le mezze stagioni” you’re basically stating that with climate change, meteorologically speaking, spring and autumn have disappeared.
Ex: + Siamo a fine marzo e ci sono già 27 gradi, si muore di caldo!
+ It’s the end of March and there are already 27 degrees, the heat is killing me!
– Eh sì, non ci sono più le mezze stagioni
– Yeah, there are no transitional seasons anymore
2. Si stava meglio quando si stava peggio
If you have a conversation with some old Italians and you or they’re complaining about something, at some point you might hear the sentence “si stava meglio quando si stava peggio” meaning we lived better when living conditions were worse.
Ex: + Oggi c’è un sacco di traffico, di inquinamento…
+ Today there’s a lot of traffic, pollution…
– E’ vero, guarda che si stava meglio quando si stava peggio
– You’re right, I’m telling you, we were better off when we were worse off
3. Nella vita non si può mai sapere
this is one of the many common Italian linguistic clichés. It’s widely used in everyday conversations about the most different topics and it means that the future is uncertain so, it’s implied, that you’d better take action now.
Ex: E’ meglio essere gentili con gli altri, nella vita non si può mai sapere di chi si può aver bisogno
It’s better to be kind to other people, in life you’ll never know whose help you need
4. Hai voluto la bicicletta? E adesso pedala!
This Italian cliché is used when you want to tell someone that they must accept the consequences of their decisions or of something they have done.
Ex: + Uffa! Il mio cane abbaia in continuazione e vuole sempre giocare, io non ce la faccio più!
God! My dog keeps barking and always want to play, I can’t take it anymore!
– Eh, hai voluto la bicicletta? E adesso pedala!
– Eh, you made your bed, now lie in it!
This typical Italian cliché is used to indicate that because there’s corruption, everyone always tries to steal money.
Ex: + Hai sentito che hanno arrestato 5 politici che prendevano tangenti?
+ Did you hear? They arrested 5 politicians who took bribes?
– Il solito magna-magna, strano!
– What a surprise! The usual magna-magna
6. Quando ci vuole, ci vuole!
It’s one of the many common Italian linguistic clichés. This sentence is usually used when you want to justify yourself or someone else for doing something that is generally considered inappropriate or excessive.
Ex: Continuava ad urlare e non mi lasciava parlare, alla fine l’ho mandato a quel paese e me ne sono andata! Quando ci vuole, ci vuole!
He kept shouting at me and he didn’t give me the chance to speak, in the end I told him to go to hell and I left! When it’s necessary, it’s necessary!
What are your favourite Italian linguistic clichés?
Original image by Alexas_Fotos