Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Barbed insults between good friends

Barbed insults between good friends
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell people what you really mean, or how you really feel.
Good manners, consideration for their feelings or even fear of the consequences can make it hard to be honest. That’s where a good sense of humor can help. With a carefully-worded sentence, you can be at once witty, friendly and playful, but also reveal your true feelings on a subject, without causing confrontation or offense.

The English expression for this is “many a true word spoken in jest” and the Tuscans have a take on it too. “Chi burla si confessa” means pretty much the same thing. The literal translation is ‘hoax confession’, revealing that a statement made actually hides an alternative meaning or message. The delivery is clever, through self-depreciating humor and a touch of sarcasm, the listeners are made to feel at ease, or at least understand it is a joke, yet still see the heart of the message.

To outsiders, the dead-pan delivery of many Tuscans can catch them off-guard, but once you’re familiar with the style of delivery, it becomes much easier to say what you mean and get what you want, without stepping on too many toes.