Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In bocca al lupo!

Today we have a starring phrase instead of a mere word. How would you wish someone good luck in Italian? You could say "buona fortuna," but this, besides being banal, is considered bad luck by some Italians. By scaramanzia (the superstitious process by which you can ward off bad stuff by certain actions or phrases-our "break a leg" is similar), they prefer to say in "bocca al lupo" (into the mouth of the wolf). To which you must reply "crepi il lupo" (may the wolf die, crepare being a not overly refined word for "to die," something like our "croak").

The origins of this saying are shrouded in the mists of time. Undoubtedly they are very old and tied to a rural background in which the wolf was seen as a constant source of danger and bad news in general.