Monthly Archives: November 2014

Lady eats icecream (and the meanings of ‘ci’)

So evidently there was a fuss and palaver this week when the Italian weekly gossip mag “Chi” published a series of photos of a cabinet minister Marianna Madia eating an icecream, in a car with her husband. Hardly a shocking event. The photos were accompanied by the caption “Ci sa fare col gelato”, the sexual suggestion being obvious – this was variously translated by the British press as “She knows what to do with a cone” or “she really knows how to work an icecream”. the publication of the photos sparked off a sexism row in Italy and the Journalists federation has launched an inquiry.
For me the caption was interesting from a grammatical point of view because of the word ‘Ci’ which has various different meanings in Italian. I always struggle to translate it. ‘Ci’ can be used as a pronoun to mean ‘Us’ – for example “Ci portate nel vostro nuovo appartamento?” – “can you show us your new apartment?”. It can also be used in the sense of ‘there’ – Ci sono – there are, or ‘here’ ci siamo – Here we are.
in this case I think ‘Ci’ is being used to mean ‘it’ – as in she knows how to work it (the icecream).