Friday, May 20, 2011

Word of the week- ingiuria

Our word of the week is a false friend, that is a word that seems to mean the same thing as a similar word in another language, but is different. An ingiuria is not an injury but a strong insult. Not only that, but in Italian law it can be a criminal act for which you may be prosecuted. This is a crime that is different from defamation, and may simply mean calling people bad names. A possible example: you're in Italy and have a heated argument with someone in public, lose your temper and shout "you son-of-a-bitch!" or the Italian equivalent. You may be looking at charges and court time for something like this. Insults are aggravated legally when they are directed to a pubblico ufficiale, who is not necessarily a cop or even someone in uniform, but any government employee in the performance of his or her duties (such as they are).

So keep your cool (not always easy in Italy) and remember that every legal system is different, both in its theory and practice. Behave yourself and err on the side of caution. If necessary, wait till you land in your own country and call them from the airport, giving them a piece of your mind and informing them of a few home truths. Maybe while you're waiting for your baggage.