Italians don’t observe the all-American holiday of Thanksgiving (la festa del ringraziamento). There are Italian words but no cultural equivalents for the day when the Pilgrim fathers and the American natives came together to celebrate the harvest in the New World. Although turkey and pumpkin are available, Italians don’t prepare them in the ways that Americans traditionally do on Thanksgiving.
On any day of the year, Italian offers a wonderful array of ways to say thank you, including grazie (thanks), grazie infinite (endless thanks), grazie mille (thanks a thousand, but it translates as thanks a million), molte grazie (thank you very much), grazie di cuore (thanks from the heart) as well as a more colloquial grazie, a buon rendere! (thanks, I owe you one).
Italian appreciation (like everything else) becomes more effusive on paper. If you are writing a lettera di ringraziamento (a thank-you letter) for a gift, a meal or a kindness, you might use phrases such as:
*Non so come ringraziarLa -– I don’t know how to thank you (formal)
*Grazie per la squisita ospitalità -– Thanks for your exquisite hospitality
*Grazie infinite per la Sua (formal) / tua (informal) gentilezza — Thanks for your kindness
*La ringrazio per tutto quello che ha fatto per me -– Thank you for all that you have done for me (formal)
*Il più affettuoso grazie per … la cena, il regalo, ecc -– Most affectionate thanks for … the dinner, the gift, etc.
*Le porgo i miei più sentiti ringraziamenti -– I profer to you my most heartfelt thanks (formal)
*Non trovo parole per dirLe quanto ci ha fatto piacere –- I cannot find the words to tell you how much pleasure it gave me
So what do you say when someone thanks you? Here are some options:
*Prego -– Please, not at all, comparable to “you’re welcome”
*Di niente — It’s nothing
*Non c’è di che –- Not at all
*Ma immaginati! Ma figurati! –- That’s all right (literally “Imagine!”)
*Non dirlo neanche –- Don’t even mention it
*Non dire sciocchezze –- Don’t be silly (to friends)
*È il minimo che potessi fare –- It is the least I can do
*È stato un piacere –- It was a pleasure
Then there’s my husband’s favorite: L’onore è tutto mio! (The honor is all mine!)
Dianne Hales is the author of LA PASSIONE: How Italy Seduced the World; LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language; and MONA LISA: A Life Discovered. You can download my new book, “A” Is for Amore, for free at diannehales.com.