Speranza (spe-rahn-zah), what a beautiful word. It means “hope” and it comes from the Latin spes, a noun of the fifth declension, one that kids in school never managed to remember.
Before being “speranza,” it was speme in Italian and, although the former entered our vocabulary sometimes around the 13th century, the latter would still appear here and there in the written words of our poets.
Speranza, in Italian just like in English, can also be a name, although it isn’t as popular as it should be, given the beauty of its meaning and, in all fairness, of the way it sounds.
Speranza appears in many a useful expression, some of them very popular and common in our glorious language: la speranza è l’ultima a morire, “hope is the last to die” (or “hope springs eternal,” you’d say more idiomatically) we say when we believe in something until there’s air to breathe, and also finchè c’è vita, c’è speranza, “where there’s life, there’s find hope.” But guess what, these expressions both come from Latin, and tell me they don’t sound regal and elegant in their original version: dum spiro, spero, wrote Cicero, until I breath, I’ll hope. And, even more poetic, spes, ultima dea: hope is the last goddess (so, the last to die).
When the young, smart ones are determined and hardworking, we say they are ragazzi di belle speranze, or with a bright future.
But my favorite use of speranza is to define the color green: verde speranza. The Ancient Greeks tell us that when Pandora opened that fateful box and released all evils into the world, only one thing remained at its bottom: a green bird, hope. And that’s why Dante associated verde with speranza in his Purgatory and we, today, think of the most beautiful and precious of greens as the color of hope.
1) Non è essere giù! Ricordati che finché c’è vita c’è speranza!
Don’t feel down. Remember: there’s always hope!
2) Lo so che è difficile prendere un buon voto, ma in fondo la speranza è l’ultima a morire!
I know it’s hard to get good marks, but in the end hope springs eternal!
3) La speranza dà forza!
Hope makes you stronger!