Learning Italian 5

In General, Italian, Learning by John4 Comments

The Italian word for milk is latte. Many of you already know that from ordering you coffee from Italian restaurants and coffee shops.

I prefer my coffee black, but I do like milk with my breakfast cereal.  And  I like it in scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes.

On doctor’s orders, to help lower my cholesterol, I only have skim milk.  In fact, I’ve been buying skim milk for so many years, that I didn’t realise, until a few weeks ago, that most people in my area must be doing the same.  The local Safeway shelves are stuffed with mostly skim and soy milks, with very little full cream milk.

I mention this because this morning, for the third milk carton in a row, I unscrewed the cap of a new carton, and then found it difficult to open the carton by pulling on the plastic ring.  It just wouldn’t pull open.  In the end I tried knives, scissors, screw drivers and pliers, and eventually got the cartons open.

Third time in a row was a bit much for me, and I thought about switching brands, but instead I decided to ring Devondale.  It’s amazing.  You can buy software and electronic equipment costing hundreds or thousands of dollars and it’s difficult or even impossible to get through to a human being on the support lines who can help you.  But with a carton of milk costing only a few dollars I rang the firm and was connected within seconds to a lady who understood immediately why I ringing.

She explained  that in the Best Before section of the milk carton there is a best before date, and on the line below on the right, the number of the machine that packaged the milk.  In this case machine No. 9.   She went on on to explain that machine No. 9 had developed a malfunction where it added too much glue to the opening tab in the batches with Best Before dates from Aug to Oct 2010.

Milk aside, today I made new strides in my understanding of Italian.  And the word that did it for me was buongiorno.  Do any of my readers know what that means?  If so, please comment.   I’ll then share what I learned today.


  1. Hi John,

    I think its Aussie equivalent is “g’day”.

    Hope they offered you a sizeable refund in vouchers for your milky inconvenience.

    Cheers, Ralph

  2. Author

    Hi Ralph,

    Thanks for responding to my request for a comment. I’m very pleased that you did.

    You are in my opinion, absolutely 100% correct. It’s exactly what I’ve come to realise the word means for Italians.

    The common translation and understanding seems to be that it means “Good Morning” and this led me to believe that giorno means morning. This misconception has caused me a lot of confusion for the past two months. Giorno means “day” and as you say, buongiorno is the Aussie equivalent of “g’day” and means good morning, good afternoon or even goodbye to fit the circumstances in which it is used.

    The BIG discovery for me, with this word, was to think in terms of Italian usage and culture how the word would be used, rather than converting it into English words to suit the way we say things. In doing so, it struck me also that the Aussie “g’day” is how Italians use it.

    By the way, I’ve read that it’s safer to use buongiorno than “ciao” which implies a level of informality and familiarity, that is not to be used with strangers, elders or superiors.


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