Italians don’t observe the all-American holiday of Thanksgiving (la festa del ringraziamento). There are Italian words, but no cultural equivalents for the Pilgrim fathers (padri pellegrini) and the American Indians (Amerindi) who came together to celebrate the harvest (il raccolto) in the New World (il Nuovo Mondo). Italians do eat turkey (tacchino) and pumpkin (zucca) but not in the traditional way (modo tradizionale) that Americans prepare them on Thanksgiving.
At this time of expressing gratitudine, I would like to thank (ringraziare) all of you who have visited my websites or followed my blog --more than a million in the last five years. I appreciate all those who have welcomed my latest book, MONA LISA: A Life Discovered, which Amazon recently chose as a "Best Book of 2014" (Arts & Photography). My thanks also go to the language-lovers who keep spreading the word about La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World’s Most Enchanting Language.
And so I say grazie (thanks), grazie infinite (many thanks), grazie mille (a thousand thanks, although it translates into English as "thanks a million"), molte grazie (many thanks) and grazie di cuore (thanks from the heart).
Italian appreciation (like everything else) becomes more effusive on paper. If you are writing a lettera di ringraziamento (a thank-you letter) for a gift, a meal or a kindness, you might use phrases such as:
*Non so come ringraziarLa. -- I don’t know how to thank you (formal)
*Grazie per la squisita ospitalità -- thank you for your exquisite hospitality
*Grazie infinite per la Sua (formal)/ tua (informal) gentilezza -- thank you for your kindness
*La ringrazio per tutto quello che ha fatto per me -- thank you for all that you have done for me. (formal)
*Il più affettuoso grazie per...la cena, il regalo, ecc -- most affectionate thanks for…the dinner, the gift, etc.
*Le porgo i miei più sentiti ringraziamenti -- I profer to you my most heartfelt thanks (formal)
*Non trovo parole per dirLe quanto ci ha fatto piacere -- I cannot find the words to tell you how much pleasure it gave me
So what do you say when someone thanks you? Here are some options:
*Prego -- My pleasure
*Di niente -- It’s nothing
*Grazie a Lei -- Thanks to you (formal)
*Non c’è di che -- Not at all
*Ma immaginati! Ma figurati! -- That’s all right (literally, imagine or fancy that) –
*Non dirlo neanche -- Don’t even mention it
*Non dire sciocchezze -- Don’t be silly (to friends)
*È il minimo che potessi fare -- It was the least I can do
*È stato un piacere -- It was a pleasure
*Se posso esser d’aiuto un’altra volta -- If I can be of help any other time (don’t hesitate to ask)
And then there's my husband's favorite: L'onore è tutto mio! (The honor is all mine!)
Words and Expressions
ingraziarsi -- to curry favor
grazie a Dio -- thank God
Grazie, a buon rendere! -- Thank you, I owe you one!
essere grato di – to appreciate, to be grateful for.
Dianne Hales is the author of MONA LISA: A Life Discovered and LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.