The other day an Italian came up to me and started in on a joke. “How do you get an Italian to shut up?” he said. Not wanting to offend him, I struggled to find a suitable answer. He then answered it saying, “You tie their hands be their backs” and I laughed a little. He punched me in the face.
This didn’t actually happen, but I think we’ve all been in that situation when the spoken language isn’t the only thing needing to be translated. Italian are renowned for talking with their hands and whether the translation actually hits you in the face or just generalizes what you can only guess as the size of a pizza, below are some gestures to remember.
“One moment, please” or “May I speak to you?” but said with “un momento.” Use this to avoid that awkward moment when your waiter comes and you don’t know what you want. Generally followed by a “per favore.”
“What do you expect?” is spoken with “Ma che vuoi?” Let’s say your friend gets bumped by a local on a narrow sidewalk, use this with repetitive shaking on the hand gesture for extra emphasis. After all, it is Italy.
By Jake Sheets