Although its literal translation would be “my mother”, it is never employed that way. A common translation for Mamma mia! is “My Goodness!” or “Oh My!”.
As the aforementioned English expressions, Mamma mia! is a colloquial exclamation that can express a range of emotions, such as surprise, dismay, or excitement.
When we hear somebody saying “Mamma mia!” out of the blue, we can assume that that person is Italian! Mamma mia! is a sudden reaction to somebody’s words or actions. The speaker’s tone of voice will give us a clue as to what is happening. However, let’s not forget that Italians tend to be overdramatic... so, always take it with a grain of salt!
- Lucia, guarda l'anello che mi ha regalato mio marito per il nostro anniversario!
- Mamma mia! È bellissimo!
- Lucia, take a look at the ring my husband gave me for our anniversary!
- Oh My! It’s beautiful!
- A causa delle temperature elevate e della siccità, i campi intorno a casa mia prendono facilmente fuoco nei mesi estivi.
- Mamma mia! Chissà che paura!
- Due to the high temperatures and dry weather conditions, the fields around my house easily catch fire during the summer months.
- My Goodness! How scary!
- Giovanna, ho finalmente trovato due biglietti per la prima del Rigoletto alla Scala!
- Mamma mia! Come sono contenta!
- Giovanna, I was finally able to get two tickets for the opening night of Rigoletto at La Scala!
- Oh My! I am so happy!