1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Buona fortuna vs In bocca al lupo

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by hazelnut, Nov 29, 2004.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. hazelnut Junior Member

    usa and english
    hi everyone,
    i know that in italy, instead of saying "buona fortuna" you would say "in la bocca al lupo" - in the mouth of the wolf. what is the response to this? i forgot it, and really love saying it!

    also, does anyone know what the actual significance to this phrase means?

    r
     
  2. Rob625

    Rob625 Senior Member

    Murlo (SI)
    English - England
    It should be "In bocca al lupo!" (not "in la...", which would have to be "nella ...", anyway).

    The reply is "crepi!" or, in full, "crepi il lupo!" (i.e. "may the wolf die!")

    As for the origin, I await an answer with bated breath.
     
  3. hazelnut Junior Member

    usa and english
    that's great. thank you. i hope someone helps us with the origin!!

    r
     
  4. laurika Senior Member

    Actually, I don´t know the origin, but I would like to add another, less formal expression telling the same as "in bocca al lupo", that is "in culo di ballena". You´d better use it with people you know well:)
    bye
     
  5. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    The correct spelling is: 'In c*** alla balena'. The answer sould be 'Fammi luce'! (gimme light!) :D It's quite rude, nothing terrible anyway.

    Ciao! Walnut
     
  6. Tormenta

    Tormenta Senior Member

    Lancashire,England
    Argentina-Español

    I will use this one for my Italian class; I wonder if my teacher will be impressed :rolleyes: :D


    Tormenta:)
     
  7. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    The origin could be the simple but very popular/supertitious mechanism for which wishing good luck works only if wishing the exact opposite: this way, if you wish an horrible luck, you're wishing a person the best... For the same reason in many areas traditionally nobody would ever wish you good luck, as it would be universally supposed to be loudly asking for bad luck! The same with people working in the show business: never say 'good luck', but '(tanta) merda'!

    Another example of application: in some areas in the north (near Mantova), when you meet a friend a typical expression of surprise and happiness is 'C'at vegna un cancher!': you wish him a cancer (= it's nice to see you)! it's typical and it's a warm welcome!

    Ciao! :p Walnut
     
  8. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    Mmmm... I suppose I just joined the nominees for the more involved post ever! :eek: Walnut
     
  9. hazelnut Junior Member

    usa and english
    you hit a good point.
     
  10. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    :p I did. Oooops... Walnut
     
  11. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Walnut!!! :eek:

    Please don't use these expressions in your Italian class!

    If your friendly terms allow you to say 'f--k you' with total confidence (without turning a hair), then you can use the balena expression! But I guess it's not suitable for a 'lady'.

    About "in bocca al lupo" I have my personal unreliable theory :D

    Do you remember Little Red Riding Hood? Well, she was eaten by the wolf and freed safe and sound, unharmed. That's what should happen to you after you've been wished "in bocca al lupo". You go through something and come out as a winner, not a loser.

    P.S.: the other expression in dialect mentioned by walnut is not that nice, though I agree that it's often said with humor. But you can say almost anything with humor! Even go to...
     
  12. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    Aaaah!!! :eek: I'm sorry Silvia, my intention was to delight the forum with a disquisition on noble spelling matters... :cool: Walnut
     
  13. Tormenta

    Tormenta Senior Member

    Lancashire,England
    Argentina-Español

    See what you did Walnut!!! :eek: I was going to get in trouble in my Italian class.

    Ok, the truth is I had heard that saying before (in Buenos Aires) but I did not know it was that bad :D

    Walnut, behave yourself!
    Silvia, thanks for the advise.
     
  14. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    Aaaarf... I guess tomorrow I'll have to look for a blackboard and spend lesson time behind it. Or should I buy some chickpeas - you know, just in case I'd have to kneel on something?
    OK, OK Tormenta, you can tell your teacher it was me. I promise I'll confess. But do you know what kids say in Italy (well, what we said when I was a kid?) Chi fa la spia, non è figlio di Maria! :rolleyes: :D ;) Walnut

    PS I dare say, but don't tell your teacher: that balena thing is not that bad here too...
     
  15. Tormenta

    Tormenta Senior Member

    Lancashire,England
    Argentina-Español

    Io sono figlia di la mia mama :D :D

    Tormenta :p
     
  16. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    This is fun! Ok, I admit, by brother always uses the balena expression! :D
     
  17. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    :D :D Walnut
     
  18. Tormenta

    Tormenta Senior Member

    Lancashire,England
    Argentina-Español


    Good! If my teacher gets angry, I can blame my " bad" language on Walnut and your brother :D :D

    Am I good or what???
     
  19. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    You're improving, my dear!
     
  20. laurika Senior Member

    ehi, once at early beginnings of my italian speaking competence :) , I told the balena expression to one Italian, who was the director of the company I worked for for two years... :eek: but that time I already wasn t employed there... :) a pretty terrible situation! so don t use the balena expression with people you don t know well!!
    bye, L.
     
  21. Rob625

    Rob625 Senior Member

    Murlo (SI)
    English - England
  22. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Yes Rob! You might be right! ***
     
  23. laurika Senior Member

    'In c*** alla balena' *** :)
    :cool: star rating system seems good :D
     
  24. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    :cool: It definitely does! :D Walnut
     
  25. Cubanboy

    Cubanboy Senior Member

    Cuba
    Spanish
    I read this post and really enjoyed the expression so much. I studied Italian a few years ago, even though I was not able to finish the course for different reasons. I found this information and hope it might be helpful to you.

    Italian proverbs - Wikiquote

    [SIZE=-1]sometimes added to "In bocca al lupo!", the response to which is "speriamo che ... (The origin of this proverb is a tale, in which an acolyte monk, Martin, ...
    en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Italian_proverbs - 37k - Cached - Similar pages[/SIZE]
     
  26. figliodierica Junior Member

    Germany
    Italy - Italian
    In Italy, especially in the South where I come from, if you say "Buona fortuna" many people consider you a jinx. So we can say:

    "In bocca al lupo!" (polite) => answer = "Crepi!" or "Crepi il lupo!"

    Or these *very* familiar expressions (don't use them with important/old/unknown people because they contain dirty words):
    "In culo alla balena!" :warn: => answer = "Speriamo che non caghi!" :warn: or "Fammi luce!"
    "In groppa al riccio!" or "Tra le palle del riccio!" :warn: => answer = "Meglio tra le palle del riccio che un riccio tra le palle!" :warn:
    "Tra le tette delle formiche!" :warn: => answer = "Facciano tanto latte!"
     
  27. jojo84

    jojo84 New Member

    Rome
    ITALY
    The correct answer is "speriamo che non scureggi!";)
     
  28. london calling Senior Member

    SALERNO, ITALY
    UK ENGLISH
    Yes, we say "break a leg" in BE!;)
     
  29. Queen Elizabeth

    Queen Elizabeth Senior Member

    Italy - Bologna
    Italian
    I've got so many things to say!!!

    1. Here in Bologna if we say "C'at vegna un cancher!" we are really wishing someone to die, because we are very angry (for example while we're driving and we're stuck in traffic!) But it's good to know I shouldn't get angry if someone tells me so in Mantova!

    2. If someone tells me "in c*** alla balena" my answer is "speriamo che non caghi"...not "fammi luce", it's nice and more polite, but I had never heard it!
    Anyway...don't use the balena expression please!

    3. Regarding the lupo expression, I think it derives from the Romolo and Remo story. The two little brothers were abandoned and found by a wolf (a feamle) which (instead of eating them) raised them and fed them as if they were her babies. They, later, founded Rome and maybe this explains why this expression is only used in Italy
     
  30. alexrom1207 New Member

    English
    The expression does come from the story of Romolo and Remo. It is basically an expression which, rather than wishing someone good luck, is really wishing them safety. At least as far as the legend goes, although colloquially it has become synonymous with good luck.
     
  31. Scopa Nuova Senior Member

    Texas, USA
    USA, English

    Ciao hazelnut,

    I suggest you do a search of Threads in this Forum. There are dozens, maybe 100's of Threads (discussions) on this expression. It must be the most discussed expession in the Italian-English Forum. Here are just a few of the extensive discussions

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1881&highlight=in+bocca+al+lupo and

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1881&highlight=in+bocca+al+lupo&page=4

    There is a very long, interesting history or at least "tales" and folklore on in bocca al lupo.


    SN :)
     
  32. phillytenor New Member

    English
    this is a tradition among opera singers. what i was told back in my school days is that the wolf in this phrase is a metaphor for the proscenium arch of a stage (the stretch of imagination being that the arch is shaped vaguely like the muzzle of a wolf). So, singers say to one another: in the mouth of the wolf. may he die. in hopes of having a 'safe' performance and not being devoured. not sure how that all developed, but that's what i heard.
     
  33. Jamesmagnificent New Member

    english
    "In bocca al lupo" is an idiomatic expression for good luck. It means "may you be spared from the jaws of the wolf."
     
  34. Rafaelus New Member

    Spanish-Mexico
    Well, this thread is old, but I'd like to add my opinion.
    "in the mouth of the wolf, may the wolf die" sounds like extremely good luck, if you are already in the mouth of the wolf, there's not much you can do, you will probably die eaten. But suddenly, the wolf suffers a heart attack and dies. It makes sense if you think that to answer "thank you" when someone says "in boca al lupo" is almost forbidden, because it's not dying, you are being grateful that it's eating you!
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page