In one of this week's videos, we find two words in contexts that could use a bit of explaining.
We're watching the first segment of a new episode of L'Eredità (the inheritance). To start off the show, there's the usual banter between the host and the contestants with some introductions. It just so happens that one of the contestants has a last name prone to getting joked about.
Buonasera. -Massimiliano Scarafoni.
Good afternoon. -Massimiliano Scarafoni.
Caption 51, L'Eredità - Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 3 - Part 1Play Caption
The name looks innocent enough, but scarafone (also scarrafone, scaraffone, scardafone,scordofone) is another word for scarafaggio (cockroach). There's an expression in Italian, and you will see this on the WordReference page for scarafaggio: ogni scarafaggio sembra belloa sua madre (every cockroach is beautiful to its mother). There are other ways to interpret this, from "a face only a mother could love" to "even a homely child is beautiful to his mother."
Pino Daniele, a famous Neapolitan singer-songwriter made this phrase famous in one of his songs. He used the Neapolitan variant, scarrafone, which is also the title: 'O Scarrafone, so when someone has a last name like that, it's almost impossible not to think of Pino Daniele's song if you've ever heard it. You can listen to the song here. There is no actual video, just the album cover, but the text in Italian is there, too.
Another word that is good to be able to recognize in a special context is culo. It is an informal word for buttocks, but Italians (informally only, prego!) use it to mean "luck."
Tirato a indovinare! Il solito culo!
Took a guess! The usual butt [luck]!
Caption 6, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 2Play Caption
But on TV, for example, such words might not be not acceptable, so the contestant's brother says il fattore C and everyone knows what he is talking about. The host then explains jokingly that "C" stands for culturale (cultural) not culo.
Be', e speriamo che il fattore ci [culo = fortuna] l'aiuta [aiuti] tanto.
Well, let's hope that the “C Factor” [butt = luck] helps her out greatly.
Captions 37-38, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 3 - Part 1Play Caption
A common comment about someone with good fortune is:
It can also be used sarcastically to mean "bad luck."