ridere alle spalle di

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by phillyitalianstudent, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. phillyitalianstudent Senior Member

    Philadelphia
    English, U.S.A.
    I can't figure this one out! It comes from a comment on the way in which Catholic teaching sometimes differed sharply from Fascist policy and practice (e.g., violence), yet sometimes ran parallel to it (e.g., birth control).

    CONTEXT:

    Sembra quasi che gli acuti antifascistio afascisti del vertice vaticano siano diventati, nel controcanto di Gemelli, stecche clericofasciste, o variate nel timbro o smorzate nel tono (non perché fosse stonatissimo tantoché, quando si voleva ridere alle sue spalle, bastava fargli emettere qualche nota).

    ATTEMPTED TRANSLATION:

    It seems almost that the intense antifascists and afascists at the top level of the Vatican became, in harmony with Gemelli, off-key clericofascists, varied in timber or muffled in tone (not because they were extremely out of tune so much that, when one wanted to laugh behind their back, it was necessary to emit some note).

    I am confused by the meaning of the last part of this sentence. Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated! Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2009
  2. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian
    Laugh up someone's sleeve.
     
  3. k_georgiadis

    k_georgiadis Senior Member

    NJ, USA
    English (AE)
    Isn't ridere alle sue spalle = laughing at his expense?
     
  4. phillyitalianstudent Senior Member

    Philadelphia
    English, U.S.A.
    Thanks for the help! But I'm still struggling with the meaning. "to laugh up one's sleeve" means to hide one's amusement. What, in this case, might be amusing?
     
  5. effeundici Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian - Tuscany
    Quello dovrebbe essere vivere alle sue spalle
     
  6. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian
    Yes, in most of the contexts this would work as well.

    It's very figurative (and bombastic..): it was enough to have him say something to ensure public amusement, possibly but not necessarily behind his back.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2009
  7. xmas50 Senior Member

    USA
    Italian - Italy
    Ciao,

    e`una frase che usa metafore musicali:

    acuti = high notes
    controcanto = countermelody
    stecche = wrong notes / off-key notes

    So, my try would be:

    It seems almost that the antifascist and afascist high notes at the top level of the Vatican became, in Gemelli's countermelody, clericofascist off-key notes, varied in timber or muffled in tone (not because HE was extremely out of tune so much that, when one wanted to laugh at his expenses (to make fun of him), it was enough to have him sing (emit) a few notes).

    I hope the sense is clear, but I leave the translation into good English to you :)
     
  8. rrose17

    rrose17 Senior Member

    Montreal
    Canada, English
    ...antifascist and afascist high notes... phew! I must be hanging around withh the wrong crowd.:)
    Just one little thing, shouldn't it be varying and not varied?
     
  9. k_georgiadis

    k_georgiadis Senior Member

    NJ, USA
    English (AE)
    Another minor point: it is at his/their expense, expense is always singular.
     
  10. phillyitalianstudent Senior Member

    Philadelphia
    English, U.S.A.
    Thank you all for very helpful advice in clearing up the meaning of this difficult passage. Your suggestions are much appreciated!
     

Share This Page