December 16, 2009 | Italian

On Exclamation Points and Work

Italian seems to have a lot of exclamation points.

On Sunday I met a runner at my Van Cortlandt Park race who happens to work for an Italian company. I told him I was looking for unpaid, short-term work where I would get exposure to Italian. He was kind enough to take my e-mail address and said he’d ask at his firm.

My expectations weren’t high, but today, to my surprise, I got an e-mail from another guy at his company, whom I’ll call Luca. Luca wrote to me entirely in Italian, which I was thrilled about, and I understood the whole message, which I was even more thrilled about. He told me he had just gotten a document that needed translating, and if the CEO okayed the idea, perhaps I could help with that and get practice speaking Italian with him, Luca, along the way. I was very excited and spent a long time (more than 45 minutes) composing my reply. I didn’t want to mess it up.

I so hope this works out!

On another subject: it continues to strike me as weird that in Italian, imperative is always written with an exclamation point. Can that really be? That would mean that in Italian you would never write, “Call me later.” Rather, you would write, “Call me later!” And not, “Get me the report by 5:00,” but “Get me the report by 5:00!”

It seems to me that business e-mails must be full of exclamation points.

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