Friday, December 21

More Mangled Words

In the course of a day I mangle at least one perfectly good Italian word. By mangle I mean I anglicize it. I don't do this much in Spanish but I think that is because although I know way more Spanish than I do Italian, and I have been speaking Spanish for over 20 years, it is nonetheless my second language. That means that for every word I know in Spanish, I know the English equivalent. Since I grew up with certain Italian words in my famnily vernacular, I never realized as a kid that everyone didn't know them.

Italian I don't speak very well. I try, really I do. But I don't have anyone to practice with anynmore. However, because in my house growing up there were words that existed only in Italian, we end up Anglicizing it- you know, put the "ing" on it or making a past participle out of it.

For example:
Sporco- (sporko) meaning: dirty pig, messy.
Years ago my parents paid me a surprise visit in my apartment while I was working on a grad course paper. I was working on the floor and had books and papers spread everywhere. I looked through the peephole, panicked and ran around the living room shoving papers and books in the closet. Clearly everything was slightly askew. When I let my parents in, my dad looked around and said "Were you "sporking?"
("Were you being a slob?")

Cafone- (cavone)- meaning: a rude person or someone who has no class.
This is used so frequently (and properly) in my family that I use it even with my non-Italian friends because it just sounds so much better than saying "that classless person" or "that rude person." We mangle it and add a "y" to it, for example: "She ruined Christmas when she showed up with her cafoney friends."

chiaccarone-strong> (Kyack-ya-roan) meaning: talkative person.
My oldest daughter was a pretty timid child when she first started pre-school. This was a serious pre-school- a Montessori school- and she really enjoyed it. At the end of her second year I had my spring conference with her teacher, an Italian-American man, who also happened to be the director of the school. He told me about her progress and then said "It seems that your daughter really enjoys, how do I put this, "Chiaccaroning," now. I couldn't stop laughing.

Come si chiama (goomaeeigeeam)meaning: what's it called (lit. what's its/your name) My parents and grandparents used this word a lot, especially for body parts that weren't supposed to be on display. "Look at that girl in the short skirt with her goomaseegeeam showing!" Or, "Can you get the goomaseegeeam and bring it over to me?" I was quite embarrassed in my first Italian class at 19 when the professor's first lesson started with "Come si chiama?" It wasn't clear at first what it was, and I sat there listening, thinking, "that sounds a lot like the whaddyacallit" word. DUH.

This, amici, has been your bundle of butchered and mangled Italian words for the day.


Anonymous said...

So funny, so true. I thought a 'gavone' was a pig, a glutton. Ex ~ What a gavone! Did you see how much galamad she just ate?

Anonymous said...

I think it comes from that- a gavone makes a pig of himself because he is a rude, classless person- capisci ova deh?