We the Italians March 21, 2016 - 77 - Page 41

st # 77 MARCH 21 , 2016 Greek charis and charitòs, and meaning “pleasure” and “pleasing”, the two words originate from the verb charìzo(mai), meaning “to make someone happy”, “to gratify”. This means that, “Grazie”, is meant to convey expressions like: “you made me feel good”, “you gratified me”, “you gave me pleasure”. In English, instead, “Thank” comes from the Indo-European root “tong”, which is the progenitor of the modern verb “think”. Therefore, “Thank You” should be interpreted as “I will think about this”, “I will remember it”, “I will keep it in mind”. On the same line, the Italian expression “Prego” comes from the Latin words prece and prex, literally meaning “prayer”. The use of “prego” derives from the Latin idiomatic use of expressions like “longum diem precar i” (“I wish you [have] a long life”) or “preco”, from which “Prego” directly draws. In Old English, “welcome” comes from the two words willa and cuma. Willa means “pleasure” (but also “pleasant”); cuma, instead, signifies “guest”, “stranger”, and “foreigner”. “You-are-welcome” indicates that the person to whom we are offering a good/our help is like a foreigner, a stranger, or more generally a guest, to whom we are gladly giving a warm welcome, a shelter, our help. Despite being the same words, “grazie”, “prego”, “Thanks”, and “You are welcome” do have different meanings. In Italian, both the expressions come from a very religious lexicon, implying the idea of gratefulness, prey, and reciprocity; in English, they rather evoke a spiritual image, from which evaporates a an idea of hosting, welcoming, and thinking, appreciating. The word “welcome” (meaning “to please a guest”), for instance, seems to come from an insular tradition - the U.K. is, de facto, an island - where people host new guests, foreigners, and wanderers, making their culture used to “the other” as a pleasant presence, a willa-cuma: welcome! In Italian, the Church seems to have influenced the way to express gratefulness and return, pronouncing two words which refer to prayer and religiosity. Probably expressing the nature of their own geography, history, and culture, English and Italian have coined two words that, though being different, share the same sense of religiosity, warmth, and gratitude. WE THE ITALIANS | 41 www.wetheitalians.com