Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Falsi amici

Should subject be translated as soggetto? It really all depends what you are trying to say. If the subject you are referring to is a grammar concept, than by all means. But if what you are referring to is "topic", than the answer is no, in that case the translation is argomento:

Let's change the subject
Cambiamo argomento

If the subject you have in mind indicates what you study at school or university, for instance mathematics, history etc. than the right translation is materia.

Che materie studi all’universit√†?
What subjects are you studying at University?

Another extremely common false friend is classe, instead of lezione: “I'm going to my Italian class tonight", should not be translated as "Vado a classe di Italiano stasera". You should say instead “Vado a lezione di italiano”. Classe, in a school context, indicates a classroom or a grouping of students by age, level or subject.

Let’s not forget about unfortunately, or sadly, which tend to be translated as “tristemente”. And sadly this is wrong most of the time.. “Tristemente” in Italian is only used to indicate a really sad state of affairs. And when I say “sad”, I mean “weeping sad”. In most cases, it's unlikely the word you are going to need is “tristemente”, so better opt for purtroppo:

Sadly / unfortunately
I was forced to leave a job I really loved
Purtroppo sono stato costretto a lasciare un lavoro che mi piaceva molto

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