From The Spaghetti Western Database
a small "Learn Italian with Spaghetti Westerns" guide that will teach you a number of Italian vocabulary with the help of the original titles and characters of Spaghetti Westerns.!
Disclaimer: I don't garantee for any mistkakes. I don't know much italian and there might be mistakes.
Italian is a romanic language, derived from Latin and is quite similar to Spanish. The other type of languages, as opposed to roman languages, are the germanic languages such as English and German.
Lezione Uno (Unit 1)
Let's begin with some simple vocabulary from Leone's films.
- A Fistful of Dollars: "Per un pugno di dollari", so you see that 'dollari' is the plural of dollars in italian. 'Un pugno di' means "a fist of", and logically, "per" means "for". So literally translated, it could mean 'For a fist of dollars'. So we learned what 'dollars' means, what 'a fistful of' means and what 'per' means. Veeery good! Now to pronounce it say something like /per oon poogno dee dollaree/. Perfect!
- For a Few Dollars more: "Per qualche dollaro in più", so there you have 'dollaro' which is actually the singular of 'dollari' which means, if you remember, dollars plural. We also have "for" again, that's the 'per'. 'Qualche' means "some". So there you have 'For some dollar' and then you gotta figure out what "in più" means. Piu means more. So roughly translated that's "For some dollar more", a dirty translation, so the English title is actually quite fitting. Now with the words we learned, we can now easily pronoune that as well, just say /per qual-kay dollaro in pee-ou/. Nice!
- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: "Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo". Here we have a little mix up. You recognize that the strucute is essentially the same, an enumeration of three adjectives made nouns. So you have the good (Il buono), the Bad (il cattivo) and the Ugly (il brutto). That's the thing with GBU, the title names are in a different order in the English translation. Now to pronounce it do something like /ill boo-ono, ill cateevo, ill brootto/. Great! Not so hard, isn't it?
- Once Upon a Time in the West: "C'era una volta il West". Now this one has a very common phrase in it. "C'era una volta" and "Once Upon a Time" mean the same, but literally it translates a bit different. So let's take a look at the words. C'era means "there was" (the C' means Ce but then you'd have two e's so you apostrophe one out), una volta means "once" (una means one, and volta means time, so "one time", that's "once"), and "il west" means "the west". so it means: There was once the west, or once upon a time, there was the west. Makes sense, doesn't it? A bit harder to pronounce, try something like /cher-a oon-a volta ill west/. Yippee!
- Duck, you sucker: Now bear in mind that "A Fistful of Dynamite" was not the original title, it was added later to use the success of the Dollar-Film titles. The original title is actually "Giù la testa", which means "Down the head", and Leone just thought let's use "Duck, you sucker". To pronounce it, try /gee-ou la testa/. Good.
Lezione Due (Unit 2)
Another bunch of titles:
- La Resa Dei Conti. Il conto is the check (for example in a restaurant), 'dei conti' means "of the check". And 'la resa' is the down payment of it. So 'La Resa Dei Conti' means the payment of the check, at least something like it, you could say the settlement of the score. And what movie is it? Right: The Big Gundown. At the end, Corbett sais, the score is settled.