I’ve always been intrigued by German. I don’t speak it, but I love listening to it. I also love how every now and then, I come across articles like this one about how German has actual words to describe thoughts, feelings and sentiments, for which English speakers do not have a single dedicated word. For instance, when you feel embarrassed for someone, it’s fremdschämen; when you get pleasure from others misfortunes (i.e. Cersei Lannister) it’s schadenfreude (a word we actually do use in English); fernweh to a describe a longing for far-off places; and Geborgenheit to describe the perfect mixture of cosy, safe, warm and comfortable. And that’s just a sampling!
So, in Italian there’s one word I really love kind of falls within that same vein: Magari! There’s no direct English translation for magari, but it’s like saying perhaps/maybe with a sense of hopefulness. No matter what the context, it’s always positive.Magari can describe a wish/desire. For instance, if you’re getting together with a friend and you say that hopefully next time, another friend can join. In place of forse, which means maybe, you could say magari, which means hopefully perhaps!
Magari can also be used as a very positive affirmative. Say, if you ask someone, “Are you coming skiing with us this weekend?” And you get a very enthusiastic, Si, magari! Usually that’s not a yes, maybe….that’s a big fat yes.
It’s also used a lot with the congiuntivo context in particular to communicate the English translation of “if only.” I hear it a lot as such: Magari fosse vero, which translates to “if only it were true.” You can respond to something just like that or even start a sentence it it such as, “If only it was true that I was going to Russia.” Or something like that. Also on the “if only” front, you can use magari to describe a situation that you think might not ever happen. Like, “if only I win the PowerBall.” Or something like that.
Magari itself is derived from the Greek word makários, which is a very positive word, meaning happiness/blessed/fortuante/a agreat event. In fact, Greeks even use the world makari to experess that they hope something will happen.
For instance, I wish I cold dedicate more time to my dear blog! When people ask me how often I publish an aritcle, I always say, Magari, una volta a settimana. Which sort of means, hopefully once a week. Magari, I’ll get to two articles a week soon!
Cover photo: Photo via Visualhunt.com