Ossobuco (peacebone) wrote in linguaphiles,

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On Italian and cars

American English speaker, here - I have only the barest knowledge of Italian, mostly from having sung in it and partially from one of those "Italian in 10 minutes a day" workbooks, which has not been very helpful. So, I have a few silly questions, mostly regarding how to talk about cars - any help is appreciated.

I'm working on a fic that involves a young Venetian (Edit: exact location is undecided currently, but assume Northern Italy somewhere) man gushing to a close friend about his new car (the conversation is not in Italian, but I want him to slip into it when he gets particularly excited) - so, it's a very informal situation, and slang or expressions that a mid-twenties native speaker might use would be great.

According to my dictionary, the word for "car" is macchina. How general is this term? That is, does it just apply to, say, a sedan, or could one also use it for a pick-up truck, or a van, or something else? Is there a more specific word for a really top-notch sports car?

Can one refer to a car with the female pronoun? I often do this with my car, i.e. "her headlight is out," "she gets very good gas mileage," et cetera - so could/would an Italian use lei to refer to his/her car? Or is this even an issue (since Italian nouns have gender, whereas in English it's only a few inanimate objects - boats, sometimes other vehicles - that have a gender ascribed to them)?

I know that bello/a is beautiful or handsome - can this be used for an inanimate object? Can a car be bella, or would that be strange? I have an Italian dictionary, but I'm wondering what adjectives would be most appropriate for describing a really beautiful sports car, maybe even to the point of being stereotypically associated with that - especially things like a particularly glossy finish, its shape/build, nice leather interior, and whatever else a car aficionado would emphasize. Bonus points for descriptions that would border on ridiculous/obsessive or even amorous for comedic effect, if that's an acceptable thing for the language.

Alright, here is where I'm really worried about knowing so little. Am I correct in assuming that che magnifico is something like "how magnificent!" or "it's magnificent!" or something equivalent? And if I am completely wrong, which seems likely, how would I go about saying that (preferrably in the context of babbling near-incoherently over the telephone without entirely revealing what is so awesome)?

I'm probably not going to end up using all of this, since I definitely don't want there to be too much of a language that I don't know, but do I want to have my bases covered, so anything and everything is appreciated. Anyway, apologies again for my ignorance of the language, and thank you very, very much in advance!
Tags: italian

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