Forget the inauguration (insediamento). The whole world is talking about what President Barack Obama called “the most significant event” (l'evento più significativo) of last week: his wife Michelle’s new hair-do (pettinatura).
“How do you say 'bangs' in Italian?” my daughter, such a trend-setter that she’s sported them for years, asked. Dictionaries didn’t help. All they offered were translations of words like “explosion” (scoppio), “hit” (battere) and “slam” (sbattere).
The Italian media, covering the news as breathlessly as their American counterparts, used “frangia” (fringe, edging) and “frangetta” (a dimunitive form). Yes, even "bangs"--our odd English word for hair cut short over the forehead--sound better in Italian. I was tickled to discover that “frangia” can also figuratively refer to “an embellishment of a story”—not that this one needed any.
“Io amo la sua frangia” (I love her bangs), the President was quoted as saying. “Sta bene, sta sempre bene” (She looks great, she always looks great.) The First Lady celebrated her fortyninth birthday (quarantanovesimo compleanno) and her new look with dinner at Café Milano, a popular Italian ristorante in Washington, D.C. As always she didn’t have a hair out of place (non aveva un capello fuori posto).
If you’re a woman and spend enough time in Italy, sooner or later you too will need un parrucchiere di fiducia (a hairdresser you can trust) to cut (tagliare), dye (tingere), bleach (decolorare schiarire), highlight (fare i colpi di sole), layer (fare un taglio scalato) or style (fare una messa in piega) your hair.
Once the parrucchiere takes comb (pettine) and scissors (forbici) in hand, pay attention. You might want to give directions, such as:
*solo una spuntatina -- just a trim
*più lunghi qui -- longer here
*più corti qui -- shorter here
*mi tagli la frangia qui -- cut my bangs here
*faccia la riga a destra -- part it on the right
*faccia la riga in mezzo –- part it in the middle
If you're pleased with the results, say, “Mi sta bene.” (It suits me). You also can ask for advice with problems such as la forfora (dandruff) and le doppie punte (split ends). If you have capelli that is grassi (greasy), secchi (dry), or crespi (frizzy), you may feel like mettersi le mani nei capelli (putting your hands in your hair in frustration).
If you're having a bad hair day--or worse--you may feel so fed up that you could say that you averne fin sopra i capelli (have it up to one’s hair) or so furious that you have un diavolo per capello (a devil for hair). That might be enough to far rizzare i capelli a qualcuno (make one’s hair stand on end)—compresa la frangia (the bangs as well)!
Words and Expressions
pettinarsi -- to comb one’s hair
spazzolarsi i capelli -- to brush one’s hair
dare una spuntata/spuntatina ai capelli -- to have one’s hair trimmed
capelli indomabili –- untameable, unmanageable hair
Dianne Hales is the author of La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.