the elephant in the living room

phillyitalianstudent

Senior Member
English, U.S.A.
Is there an Italian idiom that is equivalent in meaning to the the English idiom, "the elephant in the living room"?

The meaning here is a huge, inevitable problem that is being overlooked and going unmentioned.
 
  • miri

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The closest phrase I have been able to come up with is "Il re è nudo", and here I found that it is related to the idiom you mentioned.
     

    Salbina

    Senior Member
    US
    Italiano
    We use "avere uno scheletro nell'armadio/nascondere lo sporco sotto il tappeto" to mean something very bad and embarassing that someone hides about him/herself, "convitato di pietra" for someone (and I think also something, but I'm not entirely sure) very unwelcome and undesirable, and also "fare lo struzzo" that is, hiding one's head underground and ignoring the problems around.

    What about these options?
     

    MarcoAbroad

    Member
    Italian - Venice
    There is not such an idiom in Italian. I don't think you will find a perfect translation.
    Why don't you say just "E' come se ci fosse un elefante in salotto". I used it a couple of times and it works. People understand.
     

    miri

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I had thought of them too, Salbina, but I ruled them out because they imply that you are afraid of facing something and cosequently you hide the problem or yourself. Instead in this case the problem is visible, you just pretend it doesn't exist or you don't want to admit it exists.
     

    Salbina

    Senior Member
    US
    Italiano
    Well, I'm not sure that fear is always involved, but I get your point, Miri, if it's not fear is shame, embarassment or simply vacuity (as in the case of "fare lo struzzo").

    What about "fare finta di niente"? Oppure "fare lo gnorri"? But they don't work as naturally as the English elephant seems to...:(

    "L'elefante in salotto" sounds to me dangerously similar to "l'elefante nella cristalleria", referred to a very clumsy person, who smashes things and stumbles at every pace he/she takes...
     

    phillyitalianstudent

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.A.
    The point about the expression about having an elephant in the living room, is that the living room is a social space; everyone present (not just the speaker) is aware of the problem, but they all would prefer to ignore it and to pretend that it doesn't exist - when it clearly does exist right in their midst.
     

    miri

    Senior Member
    Italian
    That is exactly what the tale I mentioned before describes!!!

    "tutti fanno finta di non vedere che il re è nudo" = everybody pretends not to see that there is an elephant in the room.
     

    giovannino

    Senior Member
    Italian, Neapolitan
    I agree that there is a similarity between "il re è nudo" ("the emperor has no clothes") and the English expression but the problem is that "il re è nudo" wouldn't fit as a translation in many cases. Take, for example, these quotes from Google:

    There is an elephant in the living room that most legislators, citizens, and even educators are ignoring: we are not properly funding our schools

    The elephant in the living room here that Samara and her colleague want to completely avoid is the fact that John Howard didn't prohibit all guns, he only prohibited the sorts of guns which were used by gunmen in these massacres
     

    miri

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I get your point, Giovannino! In these cases we should rephrase the sentences using " (chiudere gli occhi davanti a) un problema macroscopico" or "negare l'evidenza". The metaphor invevitably gets lost.
     
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    Zenof

    Senior Member
    Italiano
    I get your point, Giovannino! In these cases we should rephrase the sentences using " (chiudere gli occhi davanti a) un problema macroscopico" or "negare l'evidenza". The metaphor invevitably gets lost.

    I think that generally il re è nudo is right , but also negare l'evidenza fits in Giovannino's examples
     
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