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  #1  
Old 12-20-2009, 09:10 PM
Malienation is offline
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Italian-American street slang in "A Bronx Tale"


In "A Bronx Tale" (one of my all-time favorite movies), one of Sonny's hoods refers to Cologero's girlfriend as a fa-moon-YA-cha (if memory serves...haven't seen it in a while). What's the real spelling, and what does it mean? C's girlfriend is black, and the setting is the late 60's. Is this a racial thing? Keep in mind that a lot of Italian street slang in this country are bastardized versions of the words used in Italy; still, if you native Italian speakers got something close, speak up.
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:13 PM
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Moolignon? It's a bastardized version of the Italian word for "eggplant".

Not a native Italian speaker, but it was one of the dominant ethnic groups where I grew up. Some in the old-school Italian-American crowd were prejudiced for various reasons; the root cause supposedly being because they viewed blacks as competition for their jobs.

Last edited by elmwood; 12-20-2009 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:41 PM
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Moolignon? It's a bastardized version of the Italian word for "eggplant".
I've heard that one, but I don't think that's it. I may be a bit off, but I'm pretty sure of the "f" sound at the beginning. In any case, I think someone who's seen the movie will nail this mystery shut.

"A Bronx Tale" fans: even if you don't know what it means, if you have the movie handy and are in a position to correct my phonetic spelling, by all means, weigh in...
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Old 12-20-2009, 10:14 PM
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Feminaccia. As far as I can tell it means something like "bad woman" and is closely identified with a character in Boccaccio's Decameron.
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Old 12-21-2009, 01:03 AM
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To expand on what cuauhtemoc said, adding the suffix -accia/o to a noun in Italian makes it mean "bad."

So feminaccia simply means evil woman.
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Old 12-21-2009, 01:23 AM
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He's saying "the fine mulignon chick was just here to see ya." '

I was born in 1939 and grew up in Bensonhurst. That's what most of us Sicilian-Americans called black people.

It does kind of sound as though he saying femminuccia though.
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Old 12-21-2009, 03:37 AM
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Bensonhurst, 1953-1971, reporting. It was so common, it was often abbreviated "moolie." Haven't seen the picture, tho.
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Old 12-21-2009, 05:46 AM
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As already noted, "femminaccia" means bad, or evil, woman.

There's a big difference between the "accia" and "uccia" suffixes. This last denotes "little" and/or "cute". When Italians refer to the birth of a female baby, they will usually refer to a "femminuccia".

Eggplant is "melanzana". Not sure how or even if this was transmuted into "mulignon" or something similar.

It's true though, that a lot of what first and second generation Italians in the USA spoke was dialect, and not Italian. So the "mulignon" thing may be a word in dialect, or the corruption of a word in dialect.

Several times, when I have been back visiting the USA (I've been living in Italy since the '80s), I've been at get - togethers where someone will say: "You live in Italy? Hey, I speak Italian, listen!". And then they spout something totally unintelligible, which turns out to be a few words in, say, dialect from Naples or Sicily that the speaker learned from his/her grandparents.
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Nathan S
Several times, when I have been back visiting the USA (I've been living in Italy since the '80s), I've been at get - togethers where someone will say: "You live in Italy? Hey, I speak Italian, listen!". And then they spout something totally unintelligible, which turns out to be a few words in, say, dialect from Naples or Sicily that the speaker learned from his/her grandparents.
My dad's grandparents were all born in Italy. At home, they spoke English and what I would've assumed was Italian. But my dad would never, ever speak a word of "his" Italian to an actual Italian person. I used to ask him why. He'd explain that what he spoke was "dialect" and he'd sound like a "hillbilly" to somebody who spoke "proper" Italian. I was puzzled by this as a kid, I thought it would be awesome to speak another language, even if it was only a "dialect". I even asked him and his mother to teach this "Hillbilly Italian" to me, but they didn't want to. They said if I wanted to learn Italian, I should take proper Italian in school. I guess that, even for all the talk about being proud to be Italian, they did carry a little bit of shame about our peasant roots.
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Old 12-21-2009, 09:10 AM
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Several times, when I have been back visiting the USA (I've been living in Italy since the '80s), I've been at get - togethers where someone will say: "You live in Italy? Hey, I speak Italian, listen!". And then they spout something totally unintelligible, which turns out to be a few words in, say, dialect from Naples or Sicily that the speaker learned from his/her grandparents.
Aren't dialects cool? My dad is a native Italian from Friuli. The other day, he told me about an Italian movie he had seen recently -- Gomorra -- that had dialogue mostly in a Neapolitan dialect, which he said was almost completely incomprehensible to him. He said he understood maybe two or three words and had to rely on the English subtitles to know what the hell was going on.

At the same time, I'm sure his dialect (Friulano, naturally) would be incomprehensible to a Neapolitan. I speak Italian and when I hear my dad speak Friulano to his relatives on the phone, I can kinda sorta tell what's going on...like my familiarity with Italian lets me kinda sorta figure out what people are saying when they're speaking French. Many dialects are that different from "proper" Italian, which is pretty neat.
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Old 12-21-2009, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by palacheck View Post
He's saying "the fine mulignon chick was just here to see ya." '
Here's the scene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lTSxrThfAg

Sounds like palacheck is right.
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Old 12-21-2009, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Nathan S View Post
Eggplant is "melanzana". Not sure how or even if this was transmuted into "mulignon" or something similar.

It's true though, that a lot of what first and second generation Italians in the USA spoke was dialect, and not Italian. So the "mulignon" thing may be a word in dialect, or the corruption of a word in dialect.
Like you said, a lot of Italian immigrants to the New York area were from Naples, and so the dialect that developed turned melanzana into mulignon. One of the things you find about the dialect is that it drops the final vowel, and voices voiceless consonants (so k turns into g, for instance, p turns into b, d turns into t).

So bracciole becomes braggiol. Capo (head) becomes gab. the pasta cavatelli becomes gavadeel. Comare (godmother, slang for mistress) becomes gumad. Compare (godfather) becomes goombah. The pasta manacotti becomes manigott. Americano becomes Medigan, and so on.

Last edited by Captain Amazing; 12-21-2009 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 12-21-2009, 03:19 PM
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He wouldn't have disrespected C by calling his girl femminaccia. Even though calling her a moolie may seem disrespectful, it was just as often used as a low-brow descriptor of black people(my mother called all black people mulignons without a hint of malevolence). If anything he would have called her femminuccia as in 'little girl."

Don't ask why true Italian words and phrases were distorted into bizarre slang, even we didn't know. u'cazzu into stugots, Madonna into marone/madon', comare into goumada, goomar, etc.

Many of the second and third generation kids I grew up with were able to understand their parents/grandparents but weren't able to actually converse in Italian.

On edit Captain Amazing seems to have given a sensible answer.

Last edited by palacheck; 12-21-2009 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:13 PM
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Whoa, I'm intrigued by the answers...but it appears Palacheck is correct.

My initial reaction was that "feminaccia" is the correct answer. By memory, it seemed pretty close to what I remember from the movie; not exactly the same, mind you, but close enough. However, I was a bit uneasy with the term. The problem is that the hood used the phrase in a respectable manner, i.e., he didn't take a tone suggesting that she was actually a "bad woman". Moreover, Cologero was not offended, and inferred no insult from the term. Besides, the hoods know he's genuinely liked by Sonny, and if word got back to him that someone in his crew disrespectfully referred to Cologero's girlfriend as a feminaccia, my guess if that he would respond, uh...let's say...forcefully. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly true that a lot of those guys probably aren't the sort of fellas inclined to approve of interracial relationships (unlike Sonny, who is more tolerant) unless it's only sexual (you know, it's okay to fuck one as long as you don't settle down with her). It's just that I can't see them insulting Cologero right to his face like that.

Enter Palacheck's phrase "fine mulignon chick". Now we're talking. While I've heard that these days "mulignon" is considered to be a rude and insulting way to refer to blacks, I've also heard that that didn't use to be the case. Indeed, we've got posters here that mention this fact (remember the setting is the 1960's). Back then, it probably wouldn't have been an insult. Consider a term like "colored": now considered rude, it was once considered fairly polite. The reverse can happen, too. "Black" use to be considered fightin' words, and didn't get accepted in decent company until the 1960's.

Finally, YouTube to the rescue! Dunno why I didn't think of this earlier . Yep, "fine mulignon chick" it is. Thanks, Palacheck. This issue has been haunting me since the first time I saw the movie.

As a final note on Italian language bastardizations, I have one for Soprano's fans: when Tony refers to "gabagool" in a couple of the episodes, I think that's a bastardization of "cappicola", a hot spicy ham.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:38 PM
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I recall mulignon coming up on The Sopranos, though for the life of me I can't remember the context.
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:44 PM
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Whoa, I'm intrigued by the answers...but it appears Palacheck is correct.

My initial reaction was that "feminaccia" is the correct answer. By memory, it seemed pretty close to what I remember from the movie; not exactly the same, mind you, but close enough. However, I was a bit uneasy with the term. The problem is that the hood used the phrase in a respectable manner, i.e., he didn't take a tone suggesting that she was actually a "bad woman". Moreover, Cologero was not offended, and inferred no insult from the term. Besides, the hoods know he's genuinely liked by Sonny, and if word got back to him that someone in his crew disrespectfully referred to Cologero's girlfriend as a feminaccia, my guess if that he would respond, uh...let's say...forcefully. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly true that a lot of those guys probably aren't the sort of fellas inclined to approve of interracial relationships (unlike Sonny, who is more tolerant) unless it's only sexual (you know, it's okay to fuck one as long as you don't settle down with her). It's just that I can't see them insulting Cologero right to his face like that.
Yeah, I never saw this movie, but palachek's answer makes more sense. Or else these characters are some highly literate mooks.

Quote:
As a final note on Italian language bastardizations, I have one for Soprano's fans: when Tony refers to "gabagool" in a couple of the episodes, I think that's a bastardization of "cappicola", a hot spicy ham.
That is correct.
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Old 12-21-2009, 11:21 PM
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I think I have heard somebody in a mafia movie exclaim "Facina!" (Fa-chin-'na). Am I mistaken, or does this mean something? Anybody know what show it was from?
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Old 12-22-2009, 12:40 AM
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Yet another final note, this one to those who haven't seen the movie: you really, really have to see this movie. Trust me.
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:48 PM
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Wait just a second... ;-)


I saw this thread and decided to create an account here on Straight Dope just to give my piece on this ongoing discussion I see everywhere about Italian dialects and slang.

I am a second-generation Italian-American whose family hails from Naples. I speak both the standard Italian language and the Neapolitan language. I've studied Italian language and regional languages and linguistics at a university level. This, coupled with my ethnicity, makes me a pretty knowledgeable person on the subject matter of this thread. Additionally, I have been to Italy many times and stayed in a lot of different places with all different types of Italians.

The first thing I'd like to clear up is the usage of the word dialect to refer to what is actually a language unto itself. From a linguistic perspective, the many dialects of Italy are, in fact, not dialects. Without a doubt, they are actually fully-fledged languages. Dialects are mutually intelligible forms of the same language. The many regional languages of Italy have their own rules of grammar, syntax, pronunciation and more. In fact, Neapolitan has been officially declared a minority language of Italy: http://italian.about.com/b/2008/11/0...a-language.htm

Often times, the different languages spoken in Italy are seen as "improper" or "incorrect" forms of Italian. I cannot stand hearing this said. It's difficult for non-Italians to understand our country. Before unification, the Italian peninsula contained city-states and various kingdoms that rose and fell. The regions of Italy have all seen different conquerors and invaders, all of which contributed to the diverse food, music and language found throughout Italy. The Greeks first settled in Naples, which, if you recall, is where my family is from. As a result, the Neapolitan language contains components of the Greek language which are seen nowhere else in Italy. Here's a quick example:

In Italian, "your sister" is said "tua sorella." In Neapolitan, it can be said "sorete," which is a combination of "sorella and "tua." "Mammate," "patete," "frarete," "nonnete," etc. are all further examples. This feature of the language, which is combining the noun for a family member with the possesive, is a remnant from Greek and is not seen in most other languages in the world, especially Italian!

This being established, I'd like to comment on the various slang/bastardized terminology that is very common amongst Southern-Italian-Americans, like myself. Let's start with "mulignan," since it's the word that gave birth to this thread in the first place.

In "A Bronx Tale," Calogero's girlfriend is indeed referred to as a mulignan. The user "elmwood" stated that it's a bastardized version of the Italian word for 'eggplant'." "Nathan S" suggested that it may have been transmuted from the standard Italian word or could possibly be a corruption. Neither is true. The Italian word for eggplant is "melanzana" while in Neapolitan it's "mulignàna." While all of the Southern Italian languages are different, they share many similarities. The Sicilian or Calabrese word for "melanzana" is surely very close to the Neapolitan.

Also, notice how "mulignàna" ends with an 'a' but you don't heard it pronounced. Southern languages in Italy often cut off the final vowel of a word or "swallow" it. By "swallowing" it, I mean that it is not as fully pronounced as it is in standard Italian. The ending 'e' ad 'a' often sound very similar, as do the 'u' and 'o'. To a native speaker of Neapolitan, the seemingly ambiguous final vowels on words is easily discerned. Italian-Americans that are several generations away from their immigrant ancestors more often than not follow the tendency of leaving the final vowel silent. In other words, Italian-Americans who are not fluent in their native tongue cannot usually give the proper vowel sound for the end of many words and so they simply leave it off, which winds up being mostly acceptable, since this is frequently done by natives anyway.

"Captain Amazing" stated that "a lot of Italian immigrants to the New York area were from Naples, and so the dialect that DEVELOPED turned melanzana into mulignon." I hate to be quoting everybody and telling them they're wrong, but the dialect, which we all now knows is actually a language, of Naples was not developed in New York or even in the United States. It is a language that has a long and rich history and is the result of the many ethnic groups that made their marks on the Italian peninsula. In fact, the most popular song tradition in all of Italy comes from Naples. I have several Neapolitan song books that contain the lyrics for classical Neapolitan songs, some of which many of you are likely familiar with, such as "'O Sole Mio" and "Torna a Surriento."

I've often wondered about the Spanish influence on the languages Southern Italy and on us Neapolitans in particular. It's a fact that Neapolitan shares many words with Spanish, but the "chopping off" of some final vowels seems to mimic Spanish speech. For example, the Italian name for Michael is "Michele," whereas the Spanish is "Miguel." I cannot vouch for other Southern Italians, but in Naples, this name is pronounced very similar to "Miguel." Not only is the final vowel cut off or "swallowed," but the 'c' in Southern languages is often pronounced like a soft 'g'. Likewise, 'p' sounds like 'b' and 'v' and 'b' often become interchanged.

The notion that words from a regional language in Italy are somehow "wrong" or "bastardized" stems from a lack of understanding. In the days before the standard Italian language ever existed, going to the South and saying "melanzana" was wrong. The word simply did not exist. The simple phrase, "It's not wrong, it's just different" is so very applicable to the languages of Italy that it's not even funny!

To point out some other posts, from what "palacheck" said, it appears that he's Italian-American like me. He says, "Don't ask why true Italian words and phrases were distorted into bizarre slang, even we didn't know." It's understandable for an Italian to think this, but let's look at his examples.

"u'cazzu into stugots"
In Neapolitan (and other Southern languages are similar), the way to say "the penis (vulgar)" is 'o cazzo. In standard Italian, it's "il cazzo." The articles in Neapolitan that correspond to "il" and "la" are 'o and 'a. As stated earlier, the 'c' in Southern languages often sounds like a soft 'g' and the final vowel is "swallowed" or left off altogether. Thus, the pronunciation of 'o cazzo is something like, "oo GATS-uh."

Lastly, "palacheck's" understanding of "stugots" is wrong. The proper spelling of this expression is 'stu cazzo, which is short, but 100% grammatically acceptable, for "chistu cazzo," which means "this penis (vulgar)." Therefore, 'stu cazzo is pronounced something like "stoo GATS-uh," but this one in particular gets the final vowel cut off more often than not.

"Madonna into marone/madon'"
The Italian word for the virgin Mary is "Madonna." In Neapolitan, the 'd' is sometimes, but not all the time, pronounced like a softly-rolled 'r'. Other words that follow this pattern are "dinto," which is Neapolitan for "inside," the standard Italian being "dentro." It's pronounced like "rinto" with the 'r' rolled very softly.

"comare into goumada, goomar"
This word is for the godmother/father of your child. The 'c' is turned into a soft 'g', the 'o' is pronounced similarly to the 'u' and the final 'e' is pronounced similar to an 'a' or is left off altogether. Therefore, we get the pronunciation, "goo-MAHR-uh."

I also noticed "Malienation" say "As a final note on Italian language bastardizations, I have one for Soprano's fans: when Tony refers to 'gabagool' in a couple of the episodes, I think that's a bastardization of 'cappicola', a hot spicy ham." I'll break this one down, too.

The standard Italian word is "cappicola," yes. However, the Neapolitan word is "capocollo." Now, seeing as how this cold cut comes from Naples, can one really say that we're pronouncing it wrong? The 'c' becomes a soft 'g', the 'p' becomes a soft 'b' and the 'o' becomes like a 'u'. Thus, it is pronounced in Neapolitan as "gah-buh-GOOL-uh."

I hope that my post was informative for everybody. Seeing as how nobody here has studied any of the subject matter at hand, I certainly commend you all for being so knowledgeable about it on your own. However, whenever I see discussions on the Internet like this one here, I have to chime in. Well, I suppose this was a bit more than just a chime, haha ;-)

If anybody has any questions or would like to ask me anything they've always been curious about, please do not hesitate!

Last edited by Pascarella; 02-28-2010 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:41 AM
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Friulian is considered by linguists an entirely separate language. Even more so than, as pascarella explained with such admirable clarity and erudition, the regional languages like Neapolitan which fall under the macro-Italian group. Friulian is not one of the Italian group of languages at all. It's a separate Romance language in the Rhaeto-Romance group, so its closest relatives are Ladin in the northeastern Italian Alps and Rumantsch in Switzerland.

Sardinian is also a completely different language from Italian, which forms a group of its own under the Romance languages. It preserves some features from Latin that didn't survive in any other Romance language, and in some respects has more in common with Spanish (but it's completely different from Spanish too).
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:05 AM
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If anybody has any questions or would like to ask me anything they've always been curious about, please do not hesitate!
I agree with everything you said. But it is definitely true that Italian-Americans were self-conscious about their language - sometimes defiantly proud and ashamed of it simultaneously. My mom's family came from Caserta and Abruzzi, and I saw this exhibited a bit.

This was not really a language issue, IMHO, than a symptom of the oppression experienced by Southern Italians by Northern Italians, and the problems experienced by immigrants. You can see this language consciousness exhibited by other people that have similar histories - African-Americans, Appalachian whites, the Scottish people, and others.

Last edited by Mr. Moto; 03-01-2010 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:40 AM
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The standard Italian word is "cappicola," yes. However, the Neapolitan word is "capocollo." Now, seeing as how this cold cut comes from Naples, can one really say that we're pronouncing it wrong? The 'c' becomes a soft 'g', the 'p' becomes a soft 'b' and the 'o' becomes like a 'u'. Thus, it is pronounced in Neapolitan as "gah-buh-GOOL-uh."
I've noticed that a lot of Italian-American pronunciations show the characteristics you've outlined: voicing of unvoiced consonants, vowel raising (of /o/->/u/), and clipping the terminal syllable. So, is this a feature mostly in the Neapolitan language, or does it extend further across Italy (like throughout Southern Italy.) Also, are there any observable rules about when such voicing occurs? Like "capocollo" -> "gabuhgool", and "manicotti" -> "manigut," but not "pizza" -> "beets" or "pasta puttanesca" doesn't become "bahst budduhnesk?" Or does it?
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Old 03-01-2010, 01:31 PM
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Well, I lived in Sicily for a couple of years. And while there was a similar phenomenon going on - Sicilian did develop as a distinct language - the end result was very different, owing in part to the Greek, Norman and Arab influences on the languages and the different path the language took at certain times.

In Sicilian the initial vowel would sometimes be dropped (especially if it was an i) the terminal vowel often was, sometimes the vowel in classical Italian was replaced with a u. Consonant sounds changes were fairly common and some words were different entirely. And this was done in a way different from Neapolitan. I had a few words of kitchen Neapolitan from my family - my Sicilian friends were mystified by some of them.
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:40 PM
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In Sicilian pronunciation, as I heard it growing up, the unaspirated unvoiced initial stops /k/ /p/ /t/ sound to Anglophone ears similar to the voiced stops /g/ /b/ /d/. Because in English aspirated stops /kh/ /ph/ /th/ are always unvoiced, and unaspirated stops are always voiced. The absence of aspiration is therefore perceived by English speakers as voicing. Just as the Pinyin letters <b> <d> <g> stand for the unaspirated unvoiced series /p/ /t/ /k/ in Chinese that are contrasted with the aspirated series. In Chinese the aspiration is phonemic, but not in English or Sicilian.
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Old 03-01-2010, 04:52 PM
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"pasta puttanesca" doesn't become "bahst budduhnesk?" Or does it?
English is my first language. In the Sicilian I heard growing up, pasta at first sounded to me like "basta." Then I learned how to distinguish aspirated and unaspirated consonants, and I could clearly hear an unaspirated /p/ in "pasta."
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Old 03-01-2010, 05:04 PM
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English is my first language. In the Sicilian I heard growing up, pasta at first sounded to me like "basta." Then I learned how to distinguish aspirated and unaspirated consonants, and I could clearly hear an unaspirated /p/ in "pasta."
Ah, so it's a lack of aspiration and not voicing that's going on there. Now, when Italian-Americans do the pronunciation, is it generally voicing that's taken over the non-aspiration? In other words, Italian immigrants come over to the US, pronounce the words without initial aspiration, but their kids (or a generation below) convert to closest English approximant, which sounds like voicing? Or are they still generally not aspirating as well?

Last edited by pulykamell; 03-01-2010 at 05:06 PM. Reason: mixed up aspiration and non-aspiration
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:30 PM
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My impression is that as the second generation grows up as native English speakers, English phonemes will tend to contaminate their pronunciation of the colloquial Italian they hear from their parents. In other words, I think they do start to perceive a difference of voicing instead of aspiration, in conformity with the set of English phonemes, with how the boundaries of English phonemes are drawn.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:27 PM
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So, is this a feature mostly in the Neapolitan language, or does it extend further across Italy (like throughout Southern Italy.) Also, are there any observable rules about when such voicing occurs? Like "capocollo" -> "gabuhgool", and "manicotti" -> "manigut," but not "pizza" -> "beets" or "pasta puttanesca" doesn't become "bahst budduhnesk?" Or does it?
Indeed, these features are found throughout Southern Italy. I cannot speak for any other part of the country, though.

It's funny you gave the "pasta puttanesca" and "pizza" examples. Often times, we'll say 'a pizz for pizza and yes, "puttanesc" can be heard from time to time, as well.

As far as "rules" for these seemingly random pronunciations, it's like this: When speaking in Neapolitan, and Italian in general, one tries to make their speech flow as cleanly and with as few ear-cringing sounds as possible. Thus, a vowel will be left off at the end of a word if the next word starts with one. When saying a single word, it's either or, really.

I wish I had a better answer!

By the way, all of those curious about Neapolitan who have a background in Italian, check out this Wikibook: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Neapolitan/contents
  #29  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:35 PM
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Ah, so it's a lack of aspiration and not voicing that's going on there. Now, when Italian-Americans do the pronunciation, is it generally voicing that's taken over the non-aspiration? In other words, Italian immigrants come over to the US, pronounce the words without initial aspiration, but their kids (or a generation below) convert to closest English approximant, which sounds like voicing? Or are they still generally not aspirating as well?
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My impression is that as the second generation grows up as native English speakers, English phonemes will tend to contaminate their pronunciation of the colloquial Italian they hear from their parents. In other words, I think they do start to perceive a difference of voicing instead of aspiration, in conformity with the set of English phonemes, with how the boundaries of English phonemes are drawn.
You're both right. This isn't always the case, though. My mother and father's parents come from Napoli and Caserta. My father has a perfect Neapolitan accent when speaking our language. On the other hand, my mother's parents did not speak Neapolitan around the house often. As a result, my mother speaks Neapolitan with an American tongue, although anybody not fluent in the language would think she sounded like a native.

Believe it or not, the consensus amongst immigrants in those days (they arrived in the 1920s) was that no child can be brought up speaking two languages and speak both of them well. This lie was likely perpetrated by the same folks who tried to outlaw the speaking of German, Italian and Japanese during WW2. Unfortunately, the beautiful languages of Italy all but died after several generations in the New World.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:49 PM
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I'd like to also add an interesting point to this thread.

Perhaps some of you are familiar with the various groups of people around the world who speak classic versions of languages that are still spoken today. By this, I mean that this particular group left the country where their language was the mothertongue and continued to speak that way until today. Meanwhile, back home, their language is changing and developing in new ways.

I wish I could find the pages for you all right now, but there is a Wikipedia entry (I'm almost sure) about the Spanish speakers on this small island in the southern states who were sent from Spain 200 years or so ago. They retain the classic Spanish, sometimes referred to as "The Queen's Spanish" that is completely extinct in Spain today. Only the elders in this community speak the language, but these people are very interesting to study for anybody interested in linguistics and the evolution of language.

The last note I'd like to make is in regards to the simultaneous evolution of a language in its home country and in a new land. There were several words created by Italian immigrants here in the US that take English words and "Italianize" them. No doubt, this took place in South America, as well. Interestingly, though, because Spanish is much closer to Italian than English, Italian verbs and nouns crept into some South American Spanish, even when the speakers aren't of Italian descent.
  #31  
Old 03-04-2010, 10:53 PM
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I think I have heard somebody in a mafia movie exclaim "Facina!" (Fa-chin-'na). Am I mistaken, or does this mean something? Anybody know what show it was from?
Recalling this, I could be off... It sounded similar to "facina", but I am not positive? IIRC, the context surrounding it had the character in the film using it as an apparent ward in exclamation against the evil eye from some woman?
Anybody know of any utterances against hexes in Italian?
  #32  
Old 03-26-2010, 04:01 PM
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Recalling this, I could be off... It sounded similar to "facina", but I am not positive? IIRC, the context surrounding it had the character in the film using it as an apparent ward in exclamation against the evil eye from some woman?
Anybody know of any utterances against hexes in Italian?
Could it have been sfaccimma? It's a Neapolitan word (pronounced sfah-CHEEM-uh) that literally translates to "semen," but functions as more than just a word for sperm.

It's typically used in a derogatory manner, although we sometimes say it sarcastically towards somebody when they're exhibiting intelligence and cleverness. In fact, the Neapolitans themselves are sometimes derogatorily referred to by the rest of Italy as "La Sfaccimma della Gente," or "The Semen (Shit) of the People." Lovely, hm?

Of course, shouting sfaccimma is just like a loud curse, such as motherfucker, in English.

I hope this gives you some helpful insight!
  #33  
Old 08-10-2017, 06:58 PM
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They use "moolignan" in the movie "Do the Right Thing", but they spelled it "moulan yan."

Mookie: Dago, wop, guinea, garlic-breath, pizza-slingin', spaghetti-bendin', Vic Damone, Perry Como, Luciano Pavarotti, Sole Mio, nonsingin' motherfucker.

Pino: You gold-teeth-gold-chain-wearin', fried-chicken-and-biscuit-eatin', monkey, ape, baboon, big thigh, fast-runnin', high-jumpin', spear-chuckin', 360-degree-basketball-dunkin' titsun spade Moulan Yan. Take your fuckin' pizza-pizza and go the fuck back to Africa.

Ice Cube used Pino's words in his song "Turn off the radio" on his 1990 album AmeriKKK's Most Wanted. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X39JyA7UBw
  #34  
Old 08-10-2017, 10:42 PM
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Please note that this is a thread from 2009.

But I will add that "eggplant" was also used as a racial slur in the second season of Fargo.
  #35  
Old 08-20-2019, 06:09 AM
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HEY CAN YOU PLEASE watch the Scene of the MARIO test right before he explains it the broads walk down the street..... CAN YOU PLEASE LISTEN TO WHAT THEY GUYS ARE SHOUTING TO THE BROADS AND TELL US WHAT THEY ARE SAYING BOTH IN ITALIAN LIKE TRANSCRIBE THAT THEN TRANSLATE IT INTO ENGLISH PLEASEEEE ... been looking everywhere can't find????
  #36  
Old 08-20-2019, 06:12 AM
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Hey pacarella or anyone if you could that post was for you ... in bronx tale before mario test broads walk on sidewalk the guys shouting in italian can u translate in english and italian PLEASEEEEE


@pascarella

Last edited by Ital; 08-20-2019 at 06:12 AM.
  #37  
Old 08-20-2019, 12:31 PM
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"Broads"?
  #38  
Old 08-20-2019, 03:28 PM
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Fun Fact: Not to hijack this very interesting thread about Italian languages/dialects, but the movie A Bronx Tale was filmed in Queens. They keep referring to (I believe) 225th Street in the Bronx, but they filmed it on 30th Avenue in Astoria/Long Island City, Queens. And the school, on 30th Ave and 48th St, is William Cullen Bryant HS, my alma mater.
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