How Do You Say '100 Years' In Italian?


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Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass answered
The Italian expression for '100 years' is cento anni - which is pronounced [chen-to annee].

However, during natural speech, the last vowel sound on cento is often dropped so it sounds more like cent'anni.
This is a linguistic convention known as apocope, where a vowel (often an unstressed vowel) is omitted - in this case because the following word begins with another vowel.

As a congratulation or salute
There seems to be a belief on the internet that the phrase cent'anni is some sort of popular Italian phrase, but I'm not sure that this is specifically true. Whilst it is not impossible that the phrase could be used as a salute - with the full phrase being cento anni di salute e felicita (or one hundred years of health and happiness) - it is by no means common throughout mainland Italy.

One possible explanation is that the expression originated from Southern Italy, and in particular Sicily. The dialect of Sicily is well known for having a host of its own idiomatic expressions and phrases. This would explain the reported use of the phrase in the Italian immigrant communities of the East coast of the United States, where the overwhelming majority of Italians were from Southern Italy and Sicily.

In the Media
The most notable evidence of this phrase being used in the media is in the 'Italian mob' style movies and TV series that have emanated from the US. These types of productions, which include The Sopranos and Goodfellas, are significant contributors to the large number of Italian phrases that are recognized by the general American public.

One well-known example of the phrase cent'anni being used as a salute (in the context of an Americanized portrayal of Italian mob families) is a discussion between several characters during a particular scene of The Godfather Part II, which reads as follows:

MICHAEL: Cent' anni!

Everyone: Cent' anni!

DEANNA: What's "Chen dandy"?

FREDO: Cent' anni -- It means a hundred years.

CONNIE: It means we should all live happily for a hundred years -- the family. That'd be true if my father were still alive.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered

We first heard this expression last month in Tuscany, from an Italian innkeeper who was from Naples, so it is at least known in that area, if not commonly used.

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