The language of age


Since I’ve moved here I have noticed that quite often I am greeted by strangers with “Salve”. I found out that this was just another way of saying Ciao or hello but I often wondered what the subtle differences were. After all I have never seen this greeting in any of my language books and I was curious if it was the equivalent of “how’s it going” in English.

I would often reply with a “Buon giorno” only because “Salve” was still a mystery word to me until yesterday when one of my student’s brought it up. She just turned 40 and made a comment about how now people use “Salve” with her and that it upset her. I thought why? Is Salve insulting? Then she said that “Ciao” is used for the young or familiar and “Buon giorno” is used for the elderly and formal. “Salve” is used when the person cannot figure out if you are young or old!

Oh, now I get it! I guess she is upset because she has graduated from “Ciao” to the ambiguous “Salve”. But for me I was thinking hey, I would rather hear “Salve” than “Buon giorno” and if a stranger says “Ciao” I would be over the moon : )

This chick may be 45 but if I am still in the “Salve” category I think I’m doing okay.

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About lmarmstrong66

I'm a blogger, painter, writer, singer. For the love of all things in nature and creativity.
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7 Responses to The language of age

  1. eloradaphne says:

    yippee 🙂 It really hurt me when people went from calling me “signorina” to SIGNORA!!!! I felt so old!!

  2. Susan says:

    I think that the worst for me was when the young shop clerks stopped saying “ciao” and started calling me “Signora”. THAT made me feel really old! And even though I’m swiftly heading for 44, I still feel funny when someone calls me “signora”, now I understand my own mother with her hatred of being called “ma’am”!

  3. Lin Hunnicutt says:

    Don’t feel bad, I turn 50 in Sugust, so what does that make me ancient?

  4. Elisa says:

    I can confirm what your friend told you – I too use ‘Salve’ as a slightly more formal sort of greeting.

    And, if it can be of any consolation, people in shops often call me ‘signora’ and I’m just 27. I try not to let it get to me! 😛

  5. I use ‘Salve’ when I go into a store and I don’t know anyone. I save my ‘Ciao’ and ‘Buongiorno’ when I go to the bakery or the market and I see the same people. I got the ‘Signora’ the other day.. and I felt OLD. I didn’t like it at all… I’m 33 but I guess it was because I had my daughter with me.

  6. Yeah, I never really paid much attention to the Signora thing but I did notice that I was called ma’am after I married my husband. It felt weird because before I was just another crew member on the ship…then suddenly everyone was calling me Ma’am. I wanted scream back at them and say ‘hey, remember me? I was the tattoo chick on Lido a month ago’

  7. Thats a great language tidbit to know about. Very interesting. I would much rather her ciao but i am afraid it would buon girno instead. 😦 i really hate getting old. So 51 one is in the middle. Trust me it’s still on the side of old. I can’t imagine being 80!

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