How Do You Say 'Life Is But A Dream' In Italian?


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La vita non รจ altro che un sogno is one possible translation of the phrase 'life is but a dream' into Italian. In English, the phrase is popularly known as the last line of the children's nursery rhyme entitled: 'Row, row, row your boat.'

The most common version of the nursery rhyme in English is:

Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

Life is but a dream.

If you're looking to translate the entire nursery rhyme into Italian, you'll soon come across one major obstacle - the lack of a specific Italian word for 'row'. To explain the motion of propelling a boat in a certain direction with the aid of oars you'd most probably have to rely on the verb sospingere (pronounced sos-pin-jer-eh) which means to push forward or drive on.

You'd then need to include the Italian word for 'oars' which is remi.

For example, you could say sospingere coi remi to mean to 'row'. Alternatively, you could complicate your sentence considerably, and use a similar action verb like risalire (to 'climb' or 'go up' again) in addition to the expression for 'rowing boat' (barca a remi). This would result in the following sentence: In risalire il fiume in una barca a remi (to go up the river in a rowing boat).

Incidentally, if you're interested in nursery rhymes for children in both English and Italian, this bi-lingual book by Annie Kubler might interest you (I know I'm interested to know how she translated 'row your boat' into Italian!)

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