Here is a partial list of my favorite expressions, the ones that have become part of the internal cant from which I must translate when speaking or writing to others:
“C’est pas grave.” With a smile and a dismissive hand wave.
“Che cosa?!” Always an interjection, it sometimes escapes before I’m able to catch it.
“Ciao.” I’m not alone here; the whole world says it.
“Grazie.” Though I must give honorable mention to “obrigado.”
“Je vous-en-prix.” It possesses a grace that surpasses “de nada”, “don’t mention it” or, even, “prego.”
“… jus’que …” There’s something about the sound of it. How could I go back to up to?
“Kif-kif.” Accompanied with an indifferent shrug.
“No sé.” Slowly shaking my head with an expression of exaggerated confusion.
“Vite!” Waving both hands, palms up, in tight circles close to my torso.
“Vale.” With a big smile and a slight nod.
There are, of course, many more, along with countless nouns and some verbs, but these are the ones that I must suppress several times a day.
Have you a personal patois?
This entry is part of Jack Rusher’s archive, originally published May 30th, 2003, in Baltimore.