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Learn Italian: Smurfs

November 23, 2011

Italian magazines make me happy. I love the photos, the gossip, and most of all I love reading their colloquial Italian, usually filled with colorful slang expressions and peppered with creative use of English language words understood to mean things other than what they mean in English.

Back when I was living in Parma earlier this year, my favorite magazine was TuStyle, a fashion/gossip/women’s lifestyle weekly I bought for one euro at the train station. But my favorite Italian magazine of all time is Vanity Fair. I still remember my first copy, which I bought almost three years ago now, when I was taking the train from Florence to Venice on my own. A photo of a minimally-clothed Kate Winslet graced the cover–this was back when she was promoting both The Reader and Revolutionary Road–together with the words “Grassa per sempre,” or “fat forever.” The title was a direct quote of hers from the feature piece, in which she recounted her struggles with weight and how she felt the shadow of body self-consciousness cling to her even after weight loss success.

I’m not a big consumer of American Vanity Fair, but I like the Italian one because it intersperses fun pop culture articles with travel and some thought-provoking material. Plus, Italian musical artist Mina answers readers’ love and relationship questions on the back page of every issue.

I was flipping through a June 2011 issue today as I’m traveling northward via train to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. I happened to see this article:


I believe I knew at one time that the Italian word for Smurf is “Puffo.” (Plural? Puffi.) But I guess I’ve forgotten and seeing the word in print made me burst out laughing. Say it out loud. It’s delightful! With the Italian emphasis on the vowels, hitting the f’s hard and long, it just sounds so…so cute!

Thanks to Mary for bringing me the magazine!

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