My homestay family was talking about this expression a few weeks ago. They explained it to me with gestures, and Italian words, because it is in Latin. The kids study Latin, Greek, and English classes at school... English least of all.
The translation goes something like:
Spoken words fly away /
While written ones stay
So here's to the written word...!
And speaking about the, well, spoken word, tonight was particularly interesting because I was trying to explain to Arianna the concept of "hanging out." Slang is realllllly hard to translate. Our conversation went like this:
- Arianna: Esci stasera? (Are you going out tonight?)
- Me: No, non esco. Voglio andare alla Residenza, ma purtroppo, i "guests" non vanno dopo l'undici. Dopo le venti-tre.
(No, I'm not going out. I want to go to the Residence, but unfortunately, guests cannot go after 11 o'clock. After 23 o'clock -- notice how I corrected myself!)
- *Arianna makes some comments, she understands what I am saying, yes this is Italian law for Residences, etc.*
- Me: Sì, devo incontrare le amiche che vivano negli appartamenti!
(Yes, I need to meet girl friends who live in apartments!)
- *Arianna makes some inquiries about the other homestay girls, thinking I must be talking about them, and remarks yet again at the fact that there are only 4 of us. She says that in the other program, Italidea, there are more homestay students.*
- *I tell here in more broken Italian that yes, most of the students from Temple are in the Residence, and that I don't really know any with independent housing (i.e. appartamento indipendente). Then I make a big mistake in trying to describe that I just want to "hang out" or "chill" tonight somewhere, but that it is very difficult with the Residence rule.*
- Perché non? In Roma, devi andare alla Colosseo, alla cinema. Forse vedi un film inglese!
(Why not? In Rome, there is so much to do at night... you can go to the Colosseum, to the cinema. Maybe you would like to see a film in English!)
So now my host mom thinks that we are all lazy Americans who do not want to see Rome at night. All I was trying to say is that we've had a long week and would like to do something calm now!
ALLORA, how do you describe "chill" or "hang out" to an Italian?
Restiamo a casa? (We are staying home)
Facciamo chiacchiera? (We are making small-talk, chit-chat)
Non usciamo? (We are not going out)
Sai-tu? (Do you know)
Capito? (Have you understood)