I was up early this morning, to ride my motorbike across the dark city, to the hospital where they take the blood samples that are required every fortnight so as to regulate the dose of the latest molecule which the medics assure me will serve to keep these articles coming each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, uninterrupted by unfortunate cardiovascular incidents.
The system is very efficient, incidentally, a fine example of modern Italy, the way it very occasionally manages to be. You walk into the spacious waiting area, take a number, then watch the screen to see when it’s your turn and which room to go to (there are half a dozen or so.)
In each room there are typically two nurses working, so the wait is short, not much longer than I needed to take of my motorcycling gear, roll up the sleeves of my warm jumper, and get my health system card ready.
Once my number is called, and I’m seated in front of the nurse and her computer, the card is scanned, my details are checked, and a needle is poked into my vein.
By mid-morning, my online health records will have been updated with the results, and not long after that the supervising doctor will have added instructions regarding any change of dosage indicated by the test results.
All this is absolutely free, by the way. Treatments, tests, drugs and so on, for certain chronic conditions are covered by a numbered ‘essenzione’, acccording to what it is that ails you. I’ve got four ‘essenzioni’, which means that, as long as I am happy to opt for ‘generici’ pharmaceuticals, rather than the branded equivalents, I get to walk out of the pharmacy each month loaded up with pills without spending a single euro cent.
This is a good country to be old in. Or to suffer from an old person’s disease in. The young don’t get treated nearly so well, but there are few of them and they don’t vote to the same extent as the pensioners…
Anyway, the Moroccan guy in the other chair was done having his blood sucked moments before me, and given that it’s Christmas Eve, once he’d struggled back into his winter coat, while trying to keep one finger pressed on the pierced vein to prevent leaks, he wished the nurses ‘Auguroni!’
Which, I reflected, sounded much more Italian than my standard seasonal greeting of ‘Buone feste!’
‘Auguroni!’, from augurare, to ‘esprimere un augurio’ (‘to express a wish’) wordreference.com tells me, best translated as ‘to wish’. So the nurses were wished ‘Big wishes!’
It’s very colloquial, my wife sniffed, when I checked with her while writing this.
That’s as may be, but it’s what people say. And it sounds a lot more natural than my rather stilted alternative. More cheerful, in its effusiveness.
Assuming you don’t happen to be in Italy right now, so can’t observe how these things are done for yourself, here’s a handy list of festive phrases you can use to impress your colleagues, friends and family members!
With grammar notes, for those who are just starting out with these things, and give a damn.
Buon Natale! (Christmas is masculine, so ‘buon’ not ‘buona’. And did you know ‘natale’ comes from ‘nascere’ or ‘nascita’, so ‘born’ or ‘birth’? I never made that connection until now… But why is it ‘buon anno’ or ‘buon natale’ rather than ‘buono‘, by the way? “Because the following word begins with a vowel,” explains my wife, in her Italian teacher voice, “and two vowels together don’t sound good. That’s why!” But darling, I object, ‘Natale’ begins with a consonant. Hah!)
Buone feste! (‘festa’, in contrast, is feminine, so ‘buona festa’, or if plural, as in this case, ‘buone feste’ – I’ve been learning Italian for 23 years and still don’t get this type of thing right!)
Buon anno! (‘Good year!’ – ‘anno’ is masculine. And mind the number of ‘n’s, or you’ll end up with the not-nearly-so-seasonal ‘Good anus!)
Felice anno nuovo! (‘Happy New Year!’, or should we say ‘Happy Year New’, noting that we have one adjective, ‘felice’, before the masculine ‘anno’, which doesn’t change it’s ending, at least, not when singular, plus another coming after the noun, ‘nuovo’ which does. What a mess, huh? Sure you wouldn’t rather be learning Chinese??)
Auguri! (‘Wishes!’, and they’re masculine plural, hence the final ‘i’.)
Auguroni! (‘Big wishes!’ But it’s ‘very colloquial’, remember…)
Our Italian school’s ‘Save 20% on 2022 Italian classes in Bologna’ promotion ends tomorrow.
Anyone tempted can find more details here.
And remember, Monday our January Sale begins, which means a coupon code that’ll get you a fifth off the cost of ebooks and online lessons. Watch this space for details.