In August, we are making an intercontinental leap from Japan to Italy on our journey through the Idioms from Around the Globe series. Our guest blogger is the Rome-based conference interpreter and AIIC member Francesca Rodriguez. What does a straw tail have to do with a guilty conscience? Francesca is going to explain the connection.
Avere la coda di paglia
In English, please! To have a straw tail
What it means: To have a guilty conscience
Why a straw tail? Do you have a colleague who is always late? Let’s imagine that one day they finally arrive on time and you tell them how happy you are about this achievement. They might feel slightly embarrassed by the unexpected compliment, but not wanting to reveal their guilt, they give a rude or grumpy reply. Having a straw tail describes a situation where their weakness has been exposed and can be easily seen by everyone, just like a straw tail catching fire.
As to the pronunciation, the “gl” sound, a soft “g” followed by ‘l’ (ʎʎ) is difficult for many non-Italian speakers. However, since most non-native speakers tend to pronounce it as a simple ‘g’ they will take on a Roman accent without knowing it.
Bio: Francesca Rodriguez is a conference interpreter based in Rome. Her career spans over 20 years of experience in politics, Italian and European institutions, television and cinema as well as national and international NGOs. Francesca has a University diploma in Conference Interpreting and Translation and a Master degree in French and English language and literature. She is also a member of AIIC (Association Internationale Interprètes de Conférence).