First part

Piedmontese idioms, metaphors, sayings, quotations

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In this section we deal with all those expressions, that are characteristic of a language, having a meaning different from the literal one, particular, metaphorical way of saying, quotations that have grown with the lamguage along the centuries.
Some of these expressions have become of regular use, independently from the type of speech and its tone. Others have a more jocular style and are mainly used in a mocking tone. Other have a slang characteristic.

It is not easy, and maybe not even correct, trying to distinguish between idioms and ways of saying. If we consider also differences in grammar and syntax among languages, it can happen that expressions that appear as idioms in one language, are not such in another language.
In general we call "idiom" an expression whose true meaning is different from the literal meaning, that is commonly used and understand by everybody in its true sense, so that ir could seem strange the literal form for expressing the concept.
Then we call "way of saying" a particular expression, understood by everybody in its meaning, but not generally used, since its use is limited to few number of cases and about specific subjects. From the way of saying to the saying the step is very short, and the same it is for passing to the quotation.
Another form of interest is the metaphor, very spreaded in piedmontese. There is a series of metaphorical substantives in which there is in one word a verbal part and a substantive part, and they belongs to piedmontese lexicon. They can be considered as idioms. Then there is a series of more complex metaphors, with a figurative meaning and that sometimes are not part of the classical language in a narrow sense, but they are slang expressions used in particular contexts.
A particular characteristic of the Piedmontese, anyway shared with other languages, is the use of comparisons in connection with a descriptive adjective for stressing it. (a sort of superlative), or as an explanation. The term of comparison is usually a substantive which is "coded" (it is always the same substantive to be associated to a given adjective). Of course, in case of need, also other substantives are used, but this is not common and is not considered here. Then there are jocular comparisons, or paradoxal, that negate the quality expressed by the adjective by means of a comparison with a substantive or locution recalling the opposite quality.
All these forms are largely present in Piedmontese, and they are used very easily.

We attempt here a classification of these forms, according their type and generality of use. We know that this is a forced subdivision certainly criticizable. The goal is to provide some limited examples. We do not claim that these examples are the most significant.

We define here as an "Idiom" an expression having a different meaning from the literal one, generally used and understood by all the people speaking the language, and without a jocular sense. Some of these expressions could also be considered as normal part of the lexicon.


a fussa pa mach ...: literally: it were not only ... true meaning: if not for else, (at least) for ....
a-i gnun bon a f 'd ...: literally: there is no one able to do of... true meaning: there is not a way for ....
a l' bin a f.: literally: it is well to do ... true meaning: it is easy ....
a l' mal a f.: literally: it is bad to do ... true meaning: it is difficult ....
a l' ln che.....: literally: it is that, that ... true meaning: therefore ....
ampaj ij tond: literally: topack in straw the dishes true meaning: to move home, or , to go away
ancora pro.: literally: still enough ... true meaning: luckily ...., thanks God...
and a baron: literally: to go to heap true meaning: to ruin...
and a la marda: literally: to go to the stealing true meaning: to collect fruits from the trees of someone else...
and a rabel: literally: to go to noise true meaning: to ruin...
avj nen un sld da f bal 'n givo: literally: not to have a coin for making a May-bug to dance true meaning: to be pennyless...


bond barba!: literally: good day uncle true meaning: nothing else to do (but it doesen't matter)...


c 'd ringhera: literally: house of railing true meaning: old house with flats (2 rooms) accessible from gallery
ciama n'autr!: literally: ask for another true meaning: cripes!
ciapsse (pijsse) un passart: literally: to catch a sparrow true meaning:to catch a cold
com at diso? (com a-j diso? , etc.): literally: how they tell you (how they tell him, etc.) true meaning:what is your name? (what is his name? etc.)
cuch an sl lobit: literally: to catch on the balcony true meaning:to catch in the act


d da ment ...: literally: to give by/from mind ... true meaning: to listen, to pay attention....
d dl cul (sla pera): literally: to give of the buttocks (on the rock) true meaning: to have a crash (finance) It follows from an old piedmontese law about bankruptcy.
djla pr l bl temp : literally: to give it for the fine time true meaning:to act in a happy-go-lucky fashion
d la fuga : literally: to give the escape true meaning:to put to flight
d 'l bleu (a quaidun) : literally: to give the blue (to someone) true meaning:to abandon, to leave (ony referred to person)
dsse d'ardriss : literally: to give oneself a straightening true meaning:to hurry, to start going in the correct direction
...dl pento : literally: ... of the comb true meaning:of a little or no value
d che 'd n : literally: to say that of not true meaning:to say no this is piedmontese syntax
d che 'd s : literally: to say that of yes true meaning:to say yes this is piedmontese syntax


esse al pian dij babi: literally: to be at the level of the toads true meaning:to be in low spirits
esse an camin ...: literally: to be in the path ... true meaning: to be while doing... we saw that this is the form of continuous tenses.
esse ant la bagna literally: to be in the sauce true meaning: to be in trouble
esse bon a ... literally: to be good at ... true meaning: to be able , to be good at ... similat ro english.
esse na pieuva. literally: to be a rain true meaning: to be boring .
esse nen vire ln. literally: not to be much that true meaning: to be not so good, not to fit expectations.
esse un barbis literally: to be a moustache true meaning: to be skilled (in something).
esse un pito literally: to be a turkey true meaning: to be complaining.
esse un subrich literally: to be a fritter true meaning: to be impudent.


d bele vlte ...: literally: of (some) fine times true meaning: very often.


f nen l pito: literally: don't do the turkey true meaning:don't be boring
f cassul: literally: to do ladletrue meaning:(of a child) to be going to cry
f flanela literally: to do flanneltrue meaning:to be loafer
f ms-ctta: literally: to do little mixingtrue meaning:to cheat
f San Martin: literally: to do Saint Martintrue meaning:to move house
fsse pij an brass: literally: to make oneself take in the armstrue meaning:to be cheated
...fin-a ant un...: literally: up to in one true meaning: up to the last.
fin ant la bagna: literally: to finish in the sauce true meaning: to go in troubles


gav (quaidun) da l'umid: literally: to put out (someone) from the wet true meaning: to lead someone, with strong manners, in the correct direction
gavte la nata: literally: take away your cork true meaning: don't be silly
gi che ... !: literally: sure that... true meaning: certainly ...
gran-e dij poj : literally: trouble of the louses true meaning: not important things


lass boje : literally: to leave to boil true meaning: to give up, to leave to go
lenghe 'd canarin: literally: tongues of canary true meaning: (teasing) refined food


na patela : literally: a blow true meaning: a large quantity. (also the literal meaning is used)
na strivass : literally: a shower of blows true meaning: a large quantity. (also the literal meaning is used)


parla p! : literally: don't speaktrue meaning: cripes! (also the literal meaning is used)
pat j'ri : literally: to equqalize (draw) the diamondstrue meaning: to be out of mind
pij 'd gandole : literally: to take dizzinesstrue meaning: to make a blunder
pij j'avrtole : literally: to take "untranslatable"true meaning: to escape
pijsse un passart : literally: to take a sparrowtrue meaning: to get a cold
pieuve pere da mulin: literally: to rain millstones true meaning: to rain heavily.
port le busche : literally: to carry straws true meaning: to prepare the marriage


rang (a quaidun) la pipa che a tira: literally: to repair (to somebody) the pipe that draws true meaning: to put somebody on the correct way (usually against his willing).


sprze la gheuba: literally: to stretch out the hump true meaning: to eat by sponging
spuss 'd rat: literally: to smell of mouse true meaning: to have been in jail
st da pocio: literally: to stay as a medlar true meaning: to be very well
st l 'nd d: literally: to stay there to go to say true meaning: to quarrel as in the phrase stoma nen l 'nd d .... = don't do useless quarrels


tach tac ai dij: literally: to glue to fingers true meaning: to produce nuisance.
ten-se ai branch: literally: to hold to branches true meaning: to be cautious.
tireje vrde: literally: to stratch them greentrue meaning: to be in economical troubles.


v a span 'd melia: literally: go to clean the maistrue meaning: go away.
vard j'arsivli: literally: to look at "untranslatable"true meaning: to be absent-minded.
vate a cat 'n casul: literally: go to buy a ladletrue meaning:don't bore.

Metaphorical definitions.
They are adjectival locutions, in an unique word, that define a type or a character of a person. With a bit of sarcasm.

bërlicabalustre: literally banisters-lick(er) true meaning: bigot

bërlicafojt: literally tureen-lick(er) true meaning: guzzler

ciaparat: literally mice-catch(er) true meaning: braggart

ciuciafurmije: literally ants-suck(er) true meaning: very thin person.

fafioch: literally do-to snow true meaning: person of many chatters and few facts.

frustacadreghe: literally chairs-wear out true meaning: loafer.

frustagelose: literally wear out-window-shutters true meaning: curious.

giacofomna: literally Jack-woman true meaning: effeminate man.

gratacmole: literally woodworms-scratch(er) true meaning: furniture restorer.

lapabreu: literally broth-lick(er) true meaning: good-for-nothing.

mercandabeu: literally ox-dealer true meaning: tactless person.

nufiacop: literally roof-sniffer true meaning: vainglorious person.

patelavache: literally cows-beat(er) true meaning: rude person.

pistafum: literally smoke-crusher true meaning: boaster.

pistaputa: literally mud-treader true meaning: infantry soldier (so called by the Alpine troops).

Commonly used comparisons.
We have seen that often in piedmontese some comparisons are used instead of superlative. Some of them have become usual and generally used idiomatic expression. Then, sometimes the comparison is simply added to the adjective in order to better specify it. This is a very common habit, and it is true also for the forms having an adverbila value. Then there are ironic comparisons, also of current use, where the adjective is compared with something expressing the opposite quality (these are among the way of saying). The "comparison trend" is extended also to actions expressed by verbs. Here we report some few examples:


bon com l pan: literally: good as the bread true meaning: very good.
brgno com un pom: literally: blind as an apple true meaning: completely blind.
brav coma 'l sol: literally: good as the sun true meaning: very good. (referred to moral qualities).
brut coma la neuit: literally: ugly as the night true meaning: very ugly..
busiard com un gavadent: literally: liar as a tooth drawer true meaning: dreadful liar..


core com un lasertin: literally: to run as a little lizard true meaning: to run quickly, to work without any rest..


fl coma na mica: literally: stupid as a loaf true meaning: very stupid..
fortun coma ij can an cesa: literally: lucky as the dogs in the church true meaning: very unlucky..


giovo coma n'aj: literally: young as a garlic true meaning: very young..
giust coma l'r: literally: right as the gold true meaning: very precise..
gram com l tssi: literally: bad as the poison true meaning: very bad. (usually referred to taste).
grand coma la fam: literally: big (tall) as the hungry true meaning: grown up enough. used in opposition to a child's behaviour. For example: Grand coma la fam e it ses nen bon a f lol! = (you are) grown up enough, and you are not able to do that!.


lest com un cravieul: literally: quick as a roe deer true meaning: very quick..


mire coma l'argheuj: literally: thin as the haughtinesstrue meaning: very thin od (figurative) of no meaning..


noios coma na pieuva: literally: boring as a raintrue meaning: very boring..


pl com un gnoj: literally: bald as a kneetrue meaning: completey hairless..


ross com un biro literally: red as a turkey true meaning: full of blushes.. (also red for other reasons, but always referred to persons).


taj com as s-ciira: literally: to cut as to see true meaning: don't cut at all.. It is said, for example of a knife which does not cut: a taja com a s-ciaira = it cuts as it sees


vj com l coco: literally: old as the "coco"* true meaning: very old.
*) - coco (pron. \ cucu \) has different meanings in piedmontese: cuckoo, brazier, stupid, etc.
verd coma na gasa: literally: green as a false acaciatrue meaning: very tight-fisted.. (always in figurative sense).

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