Hidden treasures

Do you have “il palletico?”

Figures of speech
Palletico_Vohabolario

Do you have “il palletico?”

In order to explain this term, we’ll give you a simple example: do you recall when, during a school exam, your leg would shake rhythmically, sometimes strongly enough to even rock your desk? Right then, here in Tuscany when someone is moving nervously and can't stand still, they usually get asked the question ‘Ma che hai il palletico?’ So palletico, often pronounced with an aspirated 'c' or maybe even with a silent one, means moving in an uncontrolled and nervous way, particularly when it annoys those around.

Where does this term come from? According to the Treccani encyclopedia, the word palletico comes from ‘parlesia’, which is a paralytic tremor or a shaking paralysis. The latter refer to neurological disorders deriving from degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's. In common with the Tuscan expression they only share the tremor, and they are indeed two very different situations.

The term palletico is also used to design a feeling of impatience towards someone who annoys us with their behavior, attitude or way of doing things. ‘Paul never keeps quiet, he gives me the palletico’. It's a bit like saying something makes me nervous! Similarly, this word can be used to describe when something we expected doesn’t happen or takes a long time to materialize. Imagine being in the doctor's waiting room for two hours and it's still not your turn. In this situation a Tuscan would mutter the words ‘Uffa, m’è bell’e venuto il palletico!’ We’ll end our philological discussion with another use of the word palletico. When somebody is explaining something to you or talking to you without ever coming to a conclusion, to stop their long-winded monologue you can say ‘Basta, tu m’ha fatto venire il palletico!'. It isn’t exactly a polite thing to say, but as the saying goes, sometimes you just can’t help it!

You know the best way to learn a language is through full immersion. So, after this theory lesson, are you ready to go and put it into practice? Where? Choose one of our tours in Chianti and you'll be spoiled for choice.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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