English words that can make any Italian go bonkers.

maria Maria's Blog

Rosetta EnglishThere you go, BONKERS, try to explain that to a non-English speaker. If you check the dictionary it will tell you that bonker means nothing really, however bonkers is a different story, it means mentally unbalanced even if there is only one of you you’re still going bonkers, not bonker.


Way back when I was fresh off the—the plane—I went grocery shopping. Nothing extravagant, ordinary everyday staples. I walked down the aisle looking for marmellata di fragole. Yes, I was still thinking in Italian. Strawberry Preserves said the Smucker’s label.  But there was no fooling me, I knew what I was getting. And all was good with the world until my girlfriend came visiting from Italy. I decided to give her a tour of our Fry’s down the road. It is so fancy they even offer valet parking and you can have your car washed while you shop. Sure to impress her. The place was, in my and many other people’s opinion, the Taj Mahal of grocery stores.

By the time we sampled all the free offerings we felt full. We needed honey because she likes to put it in her hot milk. And we strolled down that same isle and now the new, improved glass container of marmellata di fragole  had a label that said Strawberry Jam. No Problem, I proudly translated.

Fast forward, we are on our way to Hollywood from San Diego. Italians are fascinated by Hollywood, they have replicas of Disneyland in Europe but no Hollywood and of course, they all assume we’ll accidentally bump into Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie buying groceries by the carload to feed their kids…The freeway is packed. My son calls and I tell him I’ in a jam because of peak hours.

I sense my girlfriends glancing at me in a rather peculiar way. She has been taking night classes in Italy. To learn English I mean.

After a while she shyly asks, “Maria Grazia, why are you in a marmellata?”

And so it begins…

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