As the world mourns, this guest post seems particularly timely.
Parole di conforto
by Cher Hales
M looked at me through the tiny webcam connecting us from Colorado to Las Vegas and said "Mia moglie ha perso il bambino," meaning, "My wife lost the baby." My heart dropped, and I searched for the right words to say to my tutor, who was clearly still in pain.
When this situation happens with an Italian friend, family member or language partner, we want to show that we care and that we're concerned for them, but since Italian is our second language, it can be difficult to figure out if we're expressing sentiments that sound genuine to them.
When life gets tough, as it does over and over again, how can we bridge the cultural gap that opens up? What we can say when our friends and loved ones vedono tutto nero (are seeing everything black) ? While the phrases below can apply to many different situations, it's completely up to you to decide when they're appropriate.
The simplest thing you can say, while they talk about what's happened, is "Capisco" (I understand). If you can tell they still want to talk, you can ask "Come ti senti?" (How are you feeling?)
Here are some phrases to remind friends that you're here while they are going through a tough time.
*Ti sono vicino/a – I'm here for you; literally, I am close to you. Use vicino or vicina according to your gender.
*Nonostante la distanza [che ci divide], sono qui per te – I'm here for you, no matter how far away we are from each other.
*Sono qui se hai bisogno di me – I am here if you need me.
You can use the following to acknowledge that what your friends are experiencing really is tough:
*Stai affrontando un momento difficilissimo –– You're going through a really difficult time.
*Mi dispiace molto per il brutto momento che stai passando – I'm really sorry for the terrible moment that you're going through.
*È una situazione pesante — It's a heavy situation.
*Tieni duro, passerà — Stay strong, it will pass.
*Supererai anche questo ostacolo. Te lo assicuro — You'll get through this obstacle. I assure you.
If you're asked for advice, here a few starter lines:
*Il mio consiglio è quello di… –– My advice is that of… Examples: Il mio consiglio è quello di trattarti bene. (My advice is that of treating yourself well.) Il mio consiglio è quello di passare del tempo da solo/a. (My advice is that of spending some time alone.)
*Non ti stressare – Don't stress.
And finally, you can always remind them of your support by saying:
*Chiamami quando hai voglia di parlare – Contact me when you want to talk.
Notice that in the examples, I used the informal "you" because you're talking to a friend or loved one. Notice, too, that since many of the phrases have to do with giving suggestions or advice, the verbs are conjugated in the imperative mood.
To keep these phrases at the top of your mind so you can use them when you need them, make flash cards and review them along with your other vocabulary, conjugations and phrases.
Words and Expressions
Coraggio — Courage! Hang in there.
Fatti forza — Stay strong.
Conta su di me –- Count on me
Gli amici si vedono nel momento del bisogno — Friends show themselves in time of need, or a friend in need is a friend indeed)
Cher Hale is the founder of The Iceberg Project where she teaches passionate students of Italian not only what to learn, but also how to learn it. You can sign up to get weekly, bite-sized lessons, just like this one, by email.
Dianne Hales is the author of MONA LISA: A Life Discovered, now in paperback, and LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.