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Getting Undressed in Italian

In many places in the world, it's winter. There are no leaves on the trees. They're barren. Seeing the bare branches has brought to mind some thoughts about one Italian adjective for this: spoglio

Di inverno le foglie appassiscono e gli alberi sono spogli.

In the winter, the leaves dry up and the trees are bare.

One word leads to another! It even leads to getting undressed.

 

Latin provides some insight.

Italian words that end in "io" often come from Latin, where the word might end in ium. In fact there is a Latin noun "spolium": the skin or hide of an animal stripped off; Over time, this came to refer to the arms or armor stripped from a defeated enemy:

booty, prey, spoil.

 

We can make a connection with a tree that has been stripped of its leaves.

 

We can also see a connection between "the spoils" in English and "spolium" or the derivative "spoglia" in Latin. 

 

Another related Latin word is "spoliarium" referring to the basement of the Roman Colosseum where the fallen and dying gladiators were dumped and stripped of their worldly possessions. 

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Nowadays, the feminine plural le spoglie is used to indicate the remains of animals or humans when they have died.

 

Ma che senso ha mettere le spoglie di due persone nella stessa bara?

But what sense is there in putting the remains of two people in the same coffin?

Caption 62, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP10 - Un morto di troppo

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An important noun to know: spogliatoio

Although talking about dead bodies is pretty gruesome, it gives us insight into some very common words you will hear if you go to the doctor, to the gym, or anywhere where you might take off your clothes. Some places have an appropriate room where you can change and take a shower, which in English, we might call the locker room or shower room. Lo spogliatoio (and often indicated as such on the door) will typically be in a gym, at a pool, a hospital or doctor's office, or, as in the example below, a workplace.

 

Chi ha aggiustato la porta dello spogliatoio?

Who fixed the changing room door?

Caption 30, La Ladra - Ep. 3 - L'oro dello squalo

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Now that you are in the spogliatoio, you can get undressed.

When you change clothes, first you have to get undressed. In Italian, the verb is reflexive: spogliarsi. We've come a long way from the Roman Colosseum.

 

Andiamo a casa tua.

Let's go to your house.

A casa?

My house?

Non ti vorrai spogliare in mezzo alla strada?

You don't want to undress in the middle of the road, do you?

Captions 52-54, La Ladra - Ep. 4 - Una magica bionda

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⇒Flash quiz on the reflexive.

Can you come up with another way to say the same thing? [answer at the bottom of the page]

 

In the following example, there is no spogliatoio at this doctor's office. The couple is not an actual couple and they are pretty embarrassed. La Tempesta is a wonderful movie on Yabla, by the way, set in a ceramics factory in Treviso in the Veneto region of Italy.

 

Certo. -Adesso, siccome siamo un po' in ritardo, vi inviterei a spogliarvi.

Of course. -Now, since we're a bit late, I invite you to get undressed.

Vi visito insieme, d'accordo?

I'll examine you together, all right?

Ci sono problemi?

Are there any problems?

No, no, no. -No.

No, no, no. -No.

Captions 7-10, La Tempesta - film

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⇒Flash quiz on the reflexive

The doctor is being very polite, but if he ordered them to get undressed, what would he say? [answer at bottom of page]

 

Now here's a little scene in a refrigerator truck.

 

A questa temperatura, con i vestiti inzuppati,

At this temperature, with sopping wet clothes,

in nove minuti il sangue diventa ghiaccio.

in nine minutes blood turns to ice.

Ah, adesso che lo so mi sento meglio!

Ah, now that I know it, I feel better!

Senti, spogliati.

Listen, strip down.

Eh? -Spogliati!

Huh? -Strip down!

Ah, bel modo di morire, sì... -Piantala!

Ah, nice way to die, yes... -Quit it!

L'unico modo per combattere l'ipotermia

The only way to fight hypothermia

è togliersi i vestiti e sommare il calore corporeo di entrambi.

is to take off our clothes and sum up the body heat of both of us.

Captions 48-55, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva

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You can also undress another person. In this case, it's not reflexive.

 

Dai Carlo vai, vai, spogliala, vasala [sic], spogliala!

Come on Carlo, go on, go on, undress her, kiss her [sic], undress her!

Caption 11, Trailer - Paparazzi

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And speaking of stripping...

 

La gente della notte fa lavori strani

The people of the night do weird jobs

Certi nascono oggi e finiscono domani

Some start up today and end tomorrow

Baristi, spacciatori, puttane e giornalai

Baristas, drug dealers, hookers, and newsdealers

Poliziotti, travestiti, gente in cerca di guai

Cops, transvestites, people looking for trouble

Padroni di locali, spogliarelliste, camionisti

Bar owners, strippers, truckers,

Metronotte, ladri e giornalisti

Night watchmen, thieves, and journalists

Captions 23-28, Radio Deejay - Lorenzo Jovanotti - Gente della notte

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⇒Answers:

Andiamo a casa tua. A casa? Non vorrai  spogliarti in mezzo alla strada?

Certo. -Adesso, siccome siamo un po' in ritardo, spogliatevi. Vi visito insieme, d'accordo? Ci sono problemi? No, no, no. -No.

 

Tip

To get more information about a topic talked about in a lesson, for example, the reflexive touche on here, go to the lessons tab and do a search, such as: reflexive. The lessons where the reflexive is mentioned will be there, one after the other.

 

Beccare

Just as “get” in English serves many purposes, and has many shades of meaning, there are words in Italian that work in a similar way. One of these is beccare. It comes from becco (beak) and means “to peck,” but it’s used in colloquial speech to mean “to take,” “to catch,” or “to get.” It’s often used reflexively (for more on reflexives, see this lesson), and that’s how Manara uses it as he questions an uncooperative witness: 

 

Se non vuoi beccarti un'incriminazione per complicità in omicidio...

If you don't want to get yourself an indictment for complicity in murder...

Caption 24, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP4 - Le Lettere Di Leopardi

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Here’s one more example from a Yabla video:

 

I fotografi! -C'hanno beccato!

The photographers! -They've caught us!

Captions 3-4, Trailer - Paparazzi

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If you get caught doing something you shouldn’t, that’s when you say mi hanno beccato (they caught me)! You might use beccare if you get caught in the rain without an umbrella: mi sono beccato [or beccata] un raffreddore (I caught a cold), or if after dialing someone’s number many times, they finally answer: finalmente t’ho beccato (I finally got you)! 

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It's not always easy to know when using beccare would be appropriate, but by listening for it and repeating it to yourself when you hear it, little by little you'll find it on the tip of your tongue at just the right moment. More meanings and examples can be found here

Expressions

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