A Romance Writer Learns Italian – My Word of the Week – Dolce


adj. sweet, mild, gentle, nice, pleasant, dear, charming, 
fig.-- easy, gradual, soft 
n. sweetness, dessert, cake, sweet, candy, sweets

from Word Reference

As many of you are aware, I started an intensive Italian course this September. Since then, learning this language has consumed my life. Because the class is designed for American government workers (and not necessarily their spouses), I’ve been taught numerous words I doubt will ever be of use (ex. il garante per la cauzione di criminali – bail bondsman…Crossing my fingers I will never need this one). So what’s a poor romance writer to do in order to counteract the abject boredom?

I quickly got into the habit of looking up and focusing on words I think are cool (and there are lots). Which brings me to my new (hopefully) regularly-scheduled blog post:

My (Italian) Word of the Week

For this week, I’ve chosen a word that is very near and dear to my heart: Dolce.

Let’s start with the most recognizable use of dolce (n., dessert). Dolce can be both singular or plural, and encompasses the entire family of sweet things (cake, candy, gelato, etc.). It also translates to “sweet (adj.)” when used in reference to an edible item, as well as “sweet, nice, pleasant, dear, charming (adj.)” when used to describe a person (as in the case of English, thank goodness!).

One can have a dolce (gentle, gradual adj.) slope, which makes some degree of sense, and, oddly enough, “fresh water” is translated as  l’acqua dolce, for no reason I can think of.

So lets get into its more creative uses (which is where the fun begins). Most people have probably heard of la dolce vita (n., good life). On the flip-side, there is la dolce morte (n., mercy killing , euthanasia). Surprisingly, Italians also use casa dolce casa (idiom. home sweet home). I also stumbled upon an idiomatic expression I have not been able to grasp : Il naufragar m’è dulce in questo mare (idiom. being shipwrecked is sweet to me in this sea)…I still don’t get it.

Of course, the romantic in me couldn’t help but notice la dolce metà (n. fig., girlfriend) which literally means “the sweet half.” One of my instructors also let slip that he once went to the beach “con la dulce compagnia”, which he later explained is a polite way of saying “with his girlfriend.”

Well, that’s all I have for this week. If you’re interested in Italian, stay tuned for the next installment.

Disclaimer: I am writing this as a student of Italian. If there is anyone out there who would like to add to or correct my post, please leave a comment. This is a learning process for me as well. 


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