Confidenze tra amiche

ConfidenzeConfidenze tra amiche (Intimacies Among Girlfriends) is a weekly women’s magazine published by Mondadori. In an era when magazines are lucky to last a year, Confidenze (or Confy, as it’s known to its loyal readers) has been in business since 1946.

What’s the secret to Confy’s astonishing success? To put it simply, this magazine has it all. You can find information about health, beauty and fashion, as well as the all-important articles about celebrities. There are also features on travel, buying guides for consumer products, recipes, a horoscope, a TV guide and job listings. And for book nerds like me, Confidenze has short stories by some of Italy’s best authors in genres like nonfiction, romantic fiction and—my personal favorites—mysteries and thrillers.

As I was flipping through the April issue of Confidenze, I was reminded that the topics featured in the magazine involve specific vocabularies. So, if you’re a student of Italian who wants to learn the language of fashion or cooking, for example, you should read Confy and any other popular magazines devoted to these subjects.

When Italian women talk about their figures, they don’t say figura (Eng. figure). Instead, they use linea (Eng. line) or, as this advertisement indicates, the French silhouette.

L’80% delle donne vuole ritrovare la linea. Riduci la tua silhouette!
(80% of women want to get their figure back. Reduce your silhouette!)

The use of effetto (Eng. effect) plus an English gerund or adjective phrase is common in conversations about beauty.

Più tonica con le creme effetto lifting
(More toned with cremes that have a lifting effect)

Per il mio seno desidero un effetto push up. Cosa faccio?
(I want a push up effect for my chest. What do I do?)

Anglicisms like look are also prevalent in Italian fashion. Oddly enough, English nouns—in this case, glamour—are sometimes used as adjectives.

Sei invitata a un matrimonio in Comune? Puoi osare un look originale molto glamour.
(You’ve been invited to a wedding at Town Hall? You can be daring with an original, very glamorous look.)

Italians often Italianize borrowings from English. For example, David Beckham is described as sexissimo, which is sexy plus the Italian suffix –issimo, or extremely.

David: sexissimo, ricchissimo, sposatissimo
(David: extremely sexy, extremely rich, extremely married)

In terms of product vocabulary, Italian terms frequently consist of a present tense verb in the third person singular plus a noun or adjective. For example, vacuum cleaner is aspirapolvere, which means itsucksdust, while a handheld or miniature vacuum cleaner is a miniaspiratutto, or a miniitsuckseverything.

Il miniaspiratutto portatile ha il serbatoio trasparente per controllare ciò che si raccoglie.
(The portable handheld vacuum cleaner has a transparent tank for checking what has been collected.)

Food often exhibits the regional nature of contemporary Italian, as the recipe for pici (thick, twisted spaghetti) demonstrates.

Nella Val di Chiana si chiamano pici e in alcuni paesi anche pinci; nella Valle Tiberina bringoli.
(In Val di Chiana they’re called pici, and in some towns even pinci; in Valle Tiberina bringoli.)

The Italian language has embraced the English term single, as opposed to its Italian counterparts nubile (Eng. single woman) and celibe or scapolo (Eng. single man), to refer to romantically unattached individuals.

Se sei single, organizza qualche svago: favorirà un incontro.
(If you’re single, plan an activity: it will favor an encounter.)

The names of television shows provide a fascinating look at the complex and confusing aspects of translation. To give you an example, the show 2 Broke Girls is (inexplicably) left untranslated in the Italian TV Guide, while Murder She Wrote has for some reason been renamed (see below). Note: the word giallo means yellow but took on the secondary meaning of mystery, since the early twentieth-century mystery novels in Italy had yellow covers.

La signora in giallo
(The Mrs. in Mystery, i.e. the Italian title of Murder She Wrote)

Note: I was introduced to Confidenze by Annalucia Lomunno, who is a regular contributor to the magazine (she writes thrillers featuring Commissario Antonia Veloce, who has also appeared in the novel Troppe donne per un delitto). Lomunno’s collective writing illustrates the complicated nature of language and vocabulary. While Commissario Veloce speaks the neostandard Italian peppered with police jargon that would be expected of a police officer, the characters in her novel Rosa sospirosa and its sequel, Nero sud, speak a mixture of dialect, regional Italian, slang and other forms that are more reflective of the speech of young people in her native Taranto, Puglia.

Be sure to check out my post on Rosa sospirosa and my interview with Annalucia Lomunno about the intriguing languages of her novels.

On the Internet: Although you won’t find Confidenze online, you can order an annual subscription (52 issues shipped from Italy to your house!) on

On Facebook: Confy is on Facebook! So, if you can’t afford to subscribe, then like its page. There’s something there for everyone—even for you manly men.

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