Talking about the Olympics in the Italian Language

Aug 5, 2016


I Giochi Olimpici

The Olympic Games

The Olympics have the power to bring people together and create ties among them (il potere di riunire le persone e creare legami tra loro). To encourage communication among people of different countries and languages, the team at MosaLingua, an application for learning languages quickly with interactive activities, has created an electronic Survival Conversation Phrasebook to Rio 2016 that provides “all you need to know to talk about the Summer Olympic Games” (tutto quel che devi sapere per parlare delle Olympiadi) in six languages, including Italian. Learning a little of the jargon of sports (un po' di gergo dello sport) in another language, its authors note, can add another dimension to your enjoyment of the Games.

Everyone talks about the highlights of the opening ceremony (la ceremonia di apertura) — the parade of nations (la parata della nazioni), the singing of the Olympic hymn (l'inno olimpico) and the lighting of the  Olympic flame (la fiamma olimpica).  Excitement builds as athletes compete to fulfill the Olympic motto: “Più veloce, più in alto, più forte” (faster, higher, stronger).

Races typically begin with a call of “Pronti, partenza, via!” (On your mark, get ready, go!). Athletes strive to break a personal record (il record personale) or an Olympic record (il record olympico). Some may set a new world record (un nuovo record del mondo). At every awards ceremony the winners (i vincitori) mount the podium (il podio) and receive three medals: bronze (il bronzo), silver (l’argento) and gold (l’oro).

The digital guide features the most used phrases and expressions (le frasi e le espressioni più usate) for discussing various sports (i vari sport).   In track and field, for instance, the events include:

     *Il lancio del disco (discus throw)

     *Il lancio del giavellotto (javelin throw)

     *100 metri a ostacoli (100-meter hurdles)

     *Il salto con l’asta (pole vault)

     *Il salto triplo (triple jump)

     *Il salto in lungo (long jump)

     *Il salto in alto (high jump)

     *Il lancio del martello (hammer throw)

The most dramatic is the competition to become l’uomo  più veloce del mondo (the fastest man in the world) in the corsa dei 100 metri (100 meter race). 

In gymnastics (ginnastica), you can watch gravity-defying performances on the balance beam (la trave), parallel bars (le parallele), rings (gli anelli) and uneven bars (le parallele asimmetriche). My favorites are the swimming competitions, which include:

        *Il dorso (backstroke)

        *La rena (breaststroke)

        *La farfalle (butterfly)

        *Lo stilo libero (the freestyle)

        *Lo stile misto (medley swimming)

        *Il trampolino (springboard diving)

To all the competitors, in bocca al lupo (good luck)!

Words and Expressions

L'atleta — the athlete

Città ospitante — host city

Maratona -– marathon

La squadra nazionale –- the national team

Click here to read Mosalingua’s blog on the new guide and here for the Olympic phrasebook. 

Dianne Hales is the author of the New York Times best-selling LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language and MONA LISA: A Life Discovered. 

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