Posted by: gurglin | June 5, 2008

Italian-English handbook

I think a lot of foreigners who come over find quite difficult to understand some concepts that in Italy  are hidden by camouflaging words. This gets even harder if they have to face some “false friends”, some Italian words that look familiar for an English speaker but in reality have (officially, but also because of a misuse) a different meaning. Here you a go a handy set of words with an explication you will never find in proper dictionaries, but will help you dramatically in making your Italian life so much easier!

Equipollenza = This is the mother of all “Swiss army knives”. The concept is that you can participate into a public competition if you have the specific OR an EQUIVALENT degree/diploma (C. Stato, sez. III, 21 dicembre 1982, n. 870, Pezzani c. Min. fin., in Cons. Stato, 1985, I, 480). Some Faculties (Sociology and Political Science above all) have based their success through the years on the fact that despite being their study programmes much easier than other Faculties, for accessing public competitions they are equivalent to other courses (Sociology and Political Science most of the times are equivalent to Economy). This is a key thing, of primarily importance: giving the fact in the civil service you get the job and (once inside) are further promoted just because sponsored by a politician, it is absolutely not significant which degree you get, because, we cannot dare to forget a degree does not offer any skill nor professionalism.

Imparare = in Italian we have both “imparare” (to learn) and “insegnare” (to teach), but the latter is old fashioned… well, at least I heard a journalist too mixing them up on TV…

Laurea = literally it means degree, but in Italy it is important just for two reasons, that do not have anything to do with professional skills: it is a “Swiss army knife” for accessing competitions in civil service jobs and – above all – you get the right of being called doctor. There is minor connection between a “laurea” and the skills (check Professione) or job you get (check Raccomandazione). Here we emphasise the fact it is a diploma, a document that gives you the chance of accessing public competitions, but to get the job you need a politicians “sponsoring” you (see Raccomandazione)

Lavoro = it means labour and work, but in the civil service it means just “wage” and the place where you have to go on a daily basis for getting paid. It can be considered a synonym of “office”, but most of the times people saying “I go to work” just mean they go to the office, where normally they do not work at all…

Professione = in English it is profession but in the civil service it just means wage. In some other sectors it delineates the hierarchical position, the role you have within an organization. I.e.: Q: “what is your profession?”, A: “I am head-officer at Ministry of Propaganda”, but no mention at all about the real role and the specific tasks… because there are no other tasks than making phone calls to family and coffee-breaks …

Professore Universitario = University professor, somebody to worship like a god because you are aware of the fact it is not important how good you are for passing exams, but how much you prostate yourself before the given professor. This is considered a sort of psychological compensation, because the profession of professor is quite humiliating: most of their students do not give a shit about what they study but are just interested in the diploma, first necessary step (the other and more important is the “raccomandazione”) for getting a job in the civil service.

Raccomandazione = literally it means recommendation, but this is a typical word of cultural mafia and nepotism for getting a job, and a deep explication is necessary. The British way to recommend somebody for a job in Italy is called “segnalazione”: you just pass a CV of a friend of yours to somebody (it might be your employer), and then the person is free to evaluate the CV and decide if calling your friend for an interview. It is not very used, just a bit in the private sector. The Italian “raccomandazione” instead means that somebody important (nowadays it is a politician at national level, sometimes at regional level as well) impose (most of the times within the Civil Service) to hire a person, even if she/he does not fit for the job. The maquillage technique consists in letting the chosen candidate(s) going through some fake public selections where before starting it is already known he/they will get the job. This is the way political parties compensate their voters. This is the only way in Italy of getting a job in the public sector, at ANY level. In any case, formalities must be respected, and so far competitions are separated according the scholar levels. Only at universities competition requirements are forged according the CV of the person who MUST get the position.

Responsabilità = it translates the English words responsibility and accountability, but do not worry about that, because in Italy in either interpretations nobody knows what it means. You do not understand what I mean? Well, if you get into troubles in Italy and you try to get the person accountable for that, good luck!…. and you will probably understand what it means…


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