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What exactly does "prego" mean?

 
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2004 11:32 pm
I am trying this online Italian course, and they use the word prego to mean different things, and it's kind of confusing me. In one example, there is a waiter asking "Prego?", meaning "What would you like?". In another, a woman asks if she may sit down at a spot at a bar, and a man says "prego" meaning, "of course". And it's used to mean "your welcome", after someone says "grazie". I get how it could mean "of course" or "your welcome", but the most confusing useage for me is the waiter using it to ask "What would you like?"

Does anyone know the exact translation of the word in english? Are there also other meanings for the word? And is this the common way to ask someone what they would like, or is it specific to the situation?
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2004 11:40 pm
let's see.... my dictionary says it means all those things you say it means, except not in the waiter context. I dunno why waiter's say it, just a usaeage. Maybe it's one of those things you must accept without understanding, grasshoppah.
iduru
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 12:15 am
I do know that regional dialect is a big factor in the pronunciation and meaning of words in Italy. Maybe that's why there are so many variations. I used to live up north near venice and "prego" was always "you're welcome"

-iduru
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 12:20 am
I don't think I've ever had a waiter say 'prego' to me, but then, I haven't been in italy that much.
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iduru
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 12:26 am
No, a waiter would say Bon Appetiti ! Very Happy
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 12:31 am
Well then, how would a waiter say "What would you like?"
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iduru
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 12:53 am
I'm sorry I don't know that.

Honest to god when you walk into a resturant they know you're american and they all loved to practice their english so most of the time we never heard them speak Italian after the initial greeting.

My mother speaks Italian very well. I will ask her tomorrow and get you an answer by then for sure.

-iduru
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iduru
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 05:31 pm
Ok Kickycan,

So what I gather from my mother is...

When you walk into the restaurant they would say something to the effect of
"si prego" or "si accomodi" which both essentially mean "yes, how can I accomodate you" or "what can I do for you"

She says that nothing is very literal in the italian language and that there are many different meanings and ways to express most words.

hope this helps

-iduru
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 06:10 pm
According to dictionary.com, the literal meaning of prego is "I pray." I've always taken it to mean something akin to "If it please you," particularly in the context of a waiter saying "Prego" to see if you're ready to order. It shows both deference and readiness to do your bidding.

But, then, I was once involved in a heated exchange with an Italian restauranteur about the watering down of the house wine (about which we were embarassingly wrong -- he showed us that the wine was not watered down, just bad), so I probably shouldn't be answering questions about language and etiquette in Italy...
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Frank Apisa
 
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Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 07:09 pm
On the other hand, the non-Italian answer to your question is: Prego is a word used in porno sites to denote a pregnant model.
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 07:52 pm
Thank you all for your answers, I think I have the idea now. And Frank, of course I knew about that definition already. Smile

Grazie!
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kirsten
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 07:59 pm
Prego? In my world it means, open the jar, dinner's ready in 5 minutes.
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caprice
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 08:30 pm
kirsten wrote:
Prego? In my world it means, open the jar, dinner's ready in 5 minutes.


*LOL*
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 10:35 pm
Sounds like prego in Italian has taken up meaning like "cheers" in the clubs and restaurants here. It seems to mean everything but 'can I butter your bread for you?'.
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 10:38 pm
"Butter your bread?" That's not some Canajun euphemism, is it?
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 10:40 pm
Ha!
I'm too old to know about euphemisms.
I'm still in recovery from learning about what someone thought it meant when I was wearing thumb rings. Shocked
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patiodog
 
  1  
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2004 10:51 pm
Hmmmmm......




I can only wonder what toe rings would mean, then...
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:16 am
Toe rings mean I have beautiful feet. :wink:
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fbaezer
 
  4  
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2004 11:34 am
Prego means, literally, "I beg".
In actual speak, it means "Please" and "You're welcome".

"Il conto, prego" - The bill (the check), please.
(but literally: "the bill (the check), I beg"

-"Grazie"
-"Prego lei"
-Thanks.
-You're welcome.
(literally "I beg you -formal singular second person- [not to thank me]")

Then, of course, there is the strictly (formal) begging side of the word.

A policeman may tell you: "La prego di venire con me in questura".
(I beg you -formal singular 2nd person- to come with me to the police precinct).

And the literal literal meaning:

"Prego a tutti i santi che ti venga un malore!"
"I beg to all the saints that you (informal singular 2nd person) get sick!"
Brillante
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 01:40 pm
@littlek,
Prego has two meanings. Please as when the waiter points the way to the table and says Prego. He is saying Please have a seat.
Prego also means you are welcome.
The guy who says he lived in Italy and never heard this must have lived in some alternate universe Italy because it is said quite often both ways.
Anyway why would so many people comment on this who have no knowledge of the country or the language? Smile
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