One of the reasons I was inspired to go to Sicily was the Italian TV series “Inspector Montalbano” (Il Commissario Montalbano) produced by RAI and broadcast in the UK on BBC4 (with subtitles). The series is based on the novels by the Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri and follows the investigations of the small-town police inspector Salvatore (Salvo) Montalbano. The films closely mirror the books, and in fact entire pieces of dialogue come straight from passages in the novels.
The BBC has recently been broadcasting the Italian police dramas Il Commissario Montalbano and Il Commissario De Luca. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Montalbano, though this post isn’t about him. Instead, I’d like to focus on a part of speech that sometimes crops up in these shows, and indeed many others. Even now and then, the protagonist will find himself talking to a new acquaintance (yes, usually a woman) and she will say to him the enigmatic phrase “Diamoci del tu.” Literally, this means “Let’s give each other ‘you’.” The English subtitles translate this phrase as the slightly bland “Let’s talk less formally.”