Italian surnames with French spelling

I’ve got a friend whose last name is Chauppetta. He’s a Louisiana Italian, his family has been there for many generations. I realized at some point that his name must have been “Francized”. It’s not like I did any genaological research into it, I just kind of figured it out because it seems to make logical sense, right? The Italian spelling of a name like that would be Ciapetta or Ciopetta or something like that. “Chau” is not a sequence of letters that appears in the Italian language, right? So it must have been misspelled at some point by the French people who predominated in Louisiana, and that spelling stuck.

Are there other examples of Italian names whose spelling underwent this kind of transformation, either in Louisiana or in France itself?

Maybe it’s anglicized.

Maria de’ Medici > Marie de Médicis

Napoleone di Buonaparte > Napoleon Bonaparte

Caterina de’ Medici > Catherine de Médicis

Giambattista Lulli > Jean-Baptiste Lully

Cristina da Pizzano > Christine de Pizan

Wikipedia: Chiappetta claims it’s a name from southern Italy and Sicily. Doesn’t talk about how or when the spelling change happened.

Huh. I had no idea he was Italian originally. I mean, I suppose it makes sense since half of Henri IV’s court was for obvious reasons, but since I’ve always been taught about the man with that French spelling it never even occurred to me.
I guess the fact that the hated Concino Concini remained Concini for ever in the history books is also some kind of political statement :slight_smile:
But speaking of hated politicals : Giulio Raymondo Mazzarino became Jules Raymond Mazarin

Not in native Italian vocabulary, no. Note that the sequence “chau” in standard Italian is still pronounceable, though the letter “h” would be superfluous per the rules of Italian orthography. “Ch” (and “c” before “a/o/u”) would be equivalent to English “k” (both would be /k/ for the IPA folks, e.g. Chianti) and the sequence would come out in Italian as sounding much like English “cow”.

There are many other Romance languages spoken on the Italian peninsula besides Standard Italian. Might your friend trace his ancestry back to the Alpine regions of Southeastern France or Northern Italy? If so, the spelling of “Chaupetta” may originally come from a language like Occitan, Lombard or Emiliano-Romagnolo (I checked Friulian and Piedmontese, and neither seems to use “ch”).

Would any of the Sicilians or Calabrians use “Ch” differently than it’s used in standard Italian?

You know, I actually did check into this, as I was reading about Romansh and the other dialects/languages you mentioned. I think it’s unlikely. I was able to find a discussion thread on a geneaology website about the Chauppetta family - and indeed other people there said their name was also spelled Ciappetta - and they said the name comes from Sicily. They did not discuss the “Ch” addition.

By the way, if anyone here ever visited a “Showbiz Pizza” franchise at any point in the 1980s, you’ve heard my friend’s voice - he did the voice of “Dook LaRue” in the animatronic band at that restaurant (which was several orders of magnitude more advanced and musically ambitious than the one at competing Chuck-E-Cheese.) As ridiculous as this all sounds, the guy is a serious musician with crazy chops and, in all honesty, one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard in my life.

Potentially. Sicilian “ch” is now in line with Standard Italian, but was once used also for the sound represented by English “ch” as in chop (/tʃ/ in IPA).

Calabrian today has words spelled with “ch” representing IPA /tʃ/ (e.g. cucchiara “spoon”). I’m not sure whether or not Calabrian “ch” does orthographic double duty (as both /k/ and /tʃ/).

So a name from that area might conceivably be originally spelled either Chiappetta or Ciappetta (or other variations such as with/without some of the double letters), and perhaps either or both would not necessarily be surprising.

Gonna need a cite for these.

Renato Birago > René de Birague

Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino > Jules Raymond Mazarin

Giuseppe Lodovico Lagrangia > Joseph-Louis Langrange

Pietro Paolo Savorgnan di Brazzà > Pierre Paul Savorgnan de Brazza
The French dropped the grave accent from Brazzà because an accent on the last syllable must have seemed superfluous to them. Although it gets more complicated because the name was of Friulian origin, and the Friulian spelling is Braçà, where <ç> is pronounced /tʃ/ like in Turkish. Friulian is a very different language from Italian, belonging to a different branch of Romance languages.

Francesco Zolla > François Zola (Émile’s father)

It seems the French leave Italian names alone these days.
Pietro Cardin > Pierre Cardin
Carla Bruni & Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Chiara Mastroianni, Nina Ricci, Elsa Schiaparelli, etc. (no change)

Calabrese pronunciation of cucchiara. Scroll down to Calabrese and click on the speaker icon at the right.

That use of “ch” for /tʃ/ in Calabrese might be an exception made for borrowed words (cucchiara is from Spanish). In many more words, Calabrese use of the spellings “ch” and “c(i)” matches that of Standard Italian (Calabrese chilometru “kilometer”, citu “vinegar”).

Sicilian orthography (which I don’t believe is even today fully standardized):

Sicilian language is Calabrian, basically. After they kicked out the Muslims in the early 13th century they had to import peasants from across the strait to repopulate the island and work the latifundias. Until then the languages spoken in Sicily had been Arabic and Greek. The 13th-century population exchange is how Sicily came to speak a form of Southern Italian.

Mine was de-anglicized, it changed on arrival to a new world ,Australia, and it changed to the french spelling.
What happenned is that naturalisation, wedding, birth certificates and other ID had the spelling “corrected”, based on what the office considered correct spelling…

Even to this day, some countries have a list of names, and force spellings to match.
( They may or may not accept a new to that country foreign name given to a child… eg at registration of birth… I heard norway doesn’t accept any new entries into the set of registered first names for use in birth registration. However thats not the point of this thread.)