"Like father, like son" in Italian?
April 8, 2011 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Italian speakers: how would you say "like father, like son" in Italian? My boyfriend wants to get this phrase as a tattoo, but neither of us speak Italian.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"Tale il padre, tale il figlio"

but I would look into it a little bit more as in Spanish "de tal palo, tal astilla" has more of a negative connotation than the English version.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:35 PM on April 8, 2011

...in Spanish "de tal palo, tal astilla" has more of a negative connotation than the English version.

One of the problems with getting tattoos in other languages is that connotations often differ based on cultural differences.

Rather than looking for an exact translation of the phrase, I'd find a real Italian person (or someone fluent) and ask for an opinion. For all I know (to semi-Godwin the thread already!), "Tale il padre, tale il figlio" was something Mussolini often said to justify atrocities.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:59 PM on April 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

My partner is near fluent in Italian, and he recommends:

"Come padre, come figlio"

Or, with another term closer to "daddy":

"Come babbo, come figlio"
posted by illenion at 1:55 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am fluent in Italian and while "Come padre, Come figlio" is the literal translation of "Like father, Like son" the actual proverb translation is, " Tal padre, Tal figlio."
posted by iNurtureTheOdd at 2:26 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

My mother is from Italy and she uses the idiom "tale e quale" (that's three words) which is less specific but more commonly used where she comes from to mean "exactly alike".

But to answer your actual question, this is the Italian Wikipedia page for the classic 1987 film, Like Father, Like Son, which starred Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron. The title is Tale Padre, Tale Figlio.

He could also just get "Tale Padre", since the tattoo would be on him. Kind of slangy, but Italian speakers would get it.

ALSO also, there are a lot of regionalisms in Italian. If his father was from or particularly connected to a certain region there might be different idioms (particularly in southern Italy and Sicily).
posted by camyram at 4:22 PM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm just a kid from SoCal but I lived in Napoli for a few years and while traveling around Italy had to change up my use of the language depending on who I was talking to or what region I was in.

This sounds to me like TAL or TALE is a bit more proper and Northern while COME is a little more relaxed and Southern. So this might be a matter of where your BF's family originates from OR contacting an Italian language teacher. In my experience the difference between North and South in Italy is a lot like it is in the U.S. Think Harvard Square vs. Hazard Kentucky.

(I would go with Latin to avoid regionalisms.)
posted by snsranch at 5:58 PM on April 8, 2011

Perhaps he shouldn't get a tattoo of a language he doesn't speak? Is his father a native Italian speaker? 'Like father, like son" doesn't really seem to apply if he doesn't share his father's cultural heritage.
posted by custard heart at 9:11 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

Native Italian speaker here, it's "Tale padre, tale figlio" as camyram says quoting that film title.

No "tal" without the -e, no "il" articles, just "tale". (Definitely not "come", that sounds like a translation, not native Italian). Google matches in Italian only - lots of them about that movie title but also in the news, discussion groups, etc.

A little warning: it's not always a flattering saying, in fact it's often used with a more or less overt derogatory meaning. (For instance, I've spotted among the google matches a few obviously unflattering references to Berlusconi's son...). See this explanation of the original Latin saying this comes from (similar explanation found on other web sites too):

Talis (oppure Qualis) pater, talis filius
Tale padre tale figlio: solitamente รจ usato in senso negativo, ed indica che i difetti del padre si ritrovano anche nel figlio.

Translated literally:

Talis (or Qualis) pater, talis filius
Tale padre tale figlio (like father like son): usually it's used in a negative sense, and indicates that the father's faults can be found also in the son.

posted by bitteschoen at 4:16 AM on April 12, 2011

In Spanish we also say "de tal padre, tal hijo". Link goes to google evidence.
posted by kandinski at 3:58 PM on March 1, 2012

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