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Making do with accontentarsi

A single verb that expresses the idea of "making do" is accontentarsi (to be content with something/to make oneself be content). The adjective it stems from is contento (happy, content). The non-reflexive verb accontentare can be translated as "to satisfy." 

Me lo avete chiesto voi, eh, quindi io vi accontento.

You asked me for it, huh, so I will satisfy you.

Caption 6, Marika spiega I verbi cavare e togliere

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You are giving someone what they want. You are making them happy.

 

Making do

The reflexive verb accontentarsi implies that something may not be up to our highest expectations or greatest desires, but it will do, because we decide to accept it. We settle for it. 

 

Quando ho molto tempo, preferisco mangiare frutta, latte e cereali; quando ho poco tempo, mi accontento del classico caffè e del cornetto o brioche.

When I have lots of time, I prefer to eat fruit, milk and cereal; when I have little time, I make do with a classic espresso and croissant or brioche.

Captions 20-23, Adriano Giornata

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Adding some color

The verb accontentarsi has a lot of information in it, but Italians have an expression that enhances it even further. Italy, being a Roman Catholic country historically, is not lacking in monasteries and convents. While in English, "convent" tends to be understood as a convent of nuns, in Italian, un convento implies a religious community and may be either di suore (of nuns  = convent) or di frati (of monks = monastery). Many conventi around Italy offer hospitality to travelers, but the food that is served is the humble and simple fare the monks or nuns are served. And of course, they don't complain about it. 

 

So let's say someone asks you to stay for dinner on the spur of the moment and doesn't have anything special to offer. 

Se ti accontenti di quel che passa il convento, sei il benvenuto (if you make do with what the convent is serving [what we have on hand], you are welcome to stay for dinner).

 

But the expression is used outside of the realm of food, too. In this clip, we're talking about what kind of work one can get.

Guardi che Gigi c'ha pure due lauree. -E fa il deejay? -E questo passa il convento.

Look, Gigi even has two degrees. -And he is deejaying? -Well, that's what the convent offers [beggars can't be choosers].

Captions 13-15, La Ladra EP. 8 - Il momento giusto - Part 7

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In an episode of Volare, the expression is used rather vulgarly, referring to a woman. But now, when you watch the video, you'll understand what's behind this expression.

Me so' [romanesco: mi sono] accontentato di quel che passava il convento.

I made do with what the convent was serving.

Caption 40, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 13

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A couple of additional examples:

 

-I'm talking to my husband about lunch:

Vuoi anche un secondo o ti accontenti di un piatto di pasta e un'insalata? (do you want a second course or are you happy with pasta and salad)?

 

-My boss asks me:

Mi puoi fare una bozza per domani (can you give me a rough draft by tomorrow)?

I answer:

Non so se ce la faccio, ma farò del mio meglio per accontentarti (I don't know if I'll be able to, but I'll do my best to satisfy you).

Movie Talk in Italian

Many of us like to watch movies. Let's have a quick look at some of the terms that Italians use when they talk about the movies.

 

A movie is usually called un film. That's an easy one, because in English we can say "film," as well. 

Il Cinema

But when we talk about "the movies" in general, it's il cinema. That's another word we understand, but we have to think of using. Forget about the word "movie!"

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And then, when we want to go to the movies, andiamo al cinema (we go to the movies/let's go to the movies).

Ciao. Sei annoiato o annoiata e ti vuoi divertire e rilassare? Bene, puoi andare al cinema.

Hi. Are you bored (m) or bored (f) and you want to have a good time and relax? Good. You can go to the movies.

Captions 3-5, Marika spiega Il cinema

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Siamo andati al cinema e abbiamo visto un bel film. Adoro il cinema 

(We went to the movies and we saw a great movie. I love the movies)!

 

Actors and acting

When we talk about the star of the movie, if it's a guy, it's il protagonista and if it is a female, it's la protagonista. It always ends in a and is basically a feminine noun! It's also used to mean "the main character."

Perché Marcello, il protagonista di questo film, è uno come noi.

Because Marcello, the main character of this film, is someone like us.

Caption 21, Fellini Racconta Un Autoritratto Ritrovato - Part 6

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Just like in English, we have l'attore e l'attrice (the actor and the actress).

When they are acting, however, we use the verb recitare. They recite their lines.

È come recitare una parte in fondo, no?

It's like acting a part, deep down, right?

Caption 16, Sposami EP 2 - Part 9

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E... come attore insisti, hai recitato benissimo. -Grazie.

And... and you have to keep at it as an actorYou acted very well. -Thank you.

Captions 5-6, Volare - La grande storia di Domenico Modugno Ep. 1 - Part 13

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When we talk about movie stars, Italians often use the English word, la star (the star).  Otherwise, it's la stella (the star).

Grazie. -Alla nuova stella del musical.

Thanks. -To the new star of musicals.

Caption 22, La Ladra Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda - Part 14

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Il teatro or il cinema?

Nowadays, there are often various screening rooms in a multi-plex movie theater. Each of these is called una sala. We can also call a movie theater una sala cinematografica, when we are referring to a room within a building, or a building devoted to screening moviesSo when you buy your ticket they will tell you sala 4 or sala 8. Sala is akin to "hall" or "large room." Il teatro (the theater) refers to theaters (for plays) and opera houses. It also refers to the activity or study of acting or drama. Un corso di teatro is a drama course. If you have studied acting, you can say:

 

Ho studiato teatro 

Ho studiato recitazione teatrale

Watch

Yabla Italian has various movies you can watch in Italian with or without subtitles (try only Italian, only English, none, or both!). Take advantage of moments when going to the movies might not be a great option. It might just the right time to broaden your horizons with a nice movie in Italian. Here are some suggestions:

Il Tempesta This movie takes place in il Veneto, the region Venice is in. But the story takes place in the nearby city of Treviso. It involves a photographer, an adopted Belarus orphan, and a girl who works at the Tognana porcelain factory.  

Sei mai stata sulla luna? (have you ever been to the moon?  The film is the story of Guia, a 30-year-old woman who works for a prestigious international fashion magazine, travels around by private jet and lives between Milan and Paris. She has everything, or at least she thinks she does until she finds herself in a remote village in Puglia where she inherited a large family farm.

L'oro di Scampia (The Gold of Scampia) is based on a true story, adapted from Gianni Maddaloni's book, La mia vita sportiva (My Life in Sports). Scampia is a suburb made up of massive public housing blocks north of Naples. Camorra criminals rule the area and make life very difficult for Enzo Capuano, a hospital worker, who runs a Judo school in his spare time. 

Keep in mind that each segment of a movie comes with a vocabulary review, multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank exercises, and the patented dictation exercise, Scribe, so you can learn while enjoying the movie. But you can also just soak it in, and watch the entire movie, which is useful in itself. Getting used to hearing how real people (and good actors) speak — paying attention to the rhythm, flow, and lilt of the language gives you what learning individual words and constructed sentences cannot. Sometimes it's all about how Italian connect the words to each other fluidly.

 

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Of course, there are also plenty of movies on the various streaming platforms available for the watching. They are often available in lingua originale con sottotitoli. Maybe you can watch a movie in Italian that you have already seen dubbed into English or some other language. Fun!

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