These days, even in Italy, you name your child however you choose. But at one time, in this historically Roman Catholic country, the names of saints were among the most popular ones. As a result, many children had the same name. By far the most popular names were Giuseppe (Joseph), Giovanni (John), Pietro, Piero (Peter), Paolo (Paul), Filiippo (Phillip), Marco (Mark), Matteo (Matthew), Domenico (Dominick), Antonio (Anthony), Leonardo (Leonard), Francesco (Francis), Maria (Mary), Giovanna (Jean, Joan), Paola (Paula), Anna (Anne), Elisabetta (Elisabeth), Simona (Simona), among others.
Note: You will find some little quiz questions throughout the lesson. Although each question refers to the video example preceding it, you might need information from further on in the lesson to answer it properly. So it would be wise read the entire lesson before trying to answer the quiz questions.
We have seen in many Yabla videos that family and friends will use just the first syllable or two of the name, to make it easier and quicker to say, primarily when speaking directly to the person. The person's name is actually Martino. These are not nicknames, they're abbreviations.
Che stai facendo, Marti'?
What are you doing, Marti'?
Caption 50, Chi m'ha visto - film - Part 6Play Caption
1) If, instead of abbreviating your friend's name, you wanted to give it an affectionate touch, what could you call Martino and what would you say?
Nicknames are a bit different, and can be longer than the given name, so it's not just an expedient. It's common to use nicknames, partly to distinguish one Giovanni from another, but also to distinguish the size and stature of the person or some other characteristic. For these, suffixes are commonly used.
If a boy or man named Paolo is a hefty guy, we might call him Paolone, using the accrescitivo (augmentative suffix). If he is kind of short or thin, or young, he might be called Paolino using the diminutivo ino/ina.
Invece la perfezione, caro Paolino, non esiste.
But perfection, dear Paolino, doesn't exist.
Caption 45, La Tempesta - film - Part 17Play Caption
2) Maybe I don't know this guy very well, so I am not about to use a nickname. What would I say?
There is even a street called via San Paolino in the historical city of Lucca, so nicknaming this way is a pretty old tradition!
Poi arrivi fino a Piazza San Michele,
Then you get to Piazza San Michele,
continua con Via San Paolino e finisce in Piazzale Verdi.
it continues with Via San Paolino, and it ends in Piazzale Verdi.
Quindi è una via unica che ovviamente cambia nome.
So it's one street, which obviously changes its name.
Captions 50-52, In giro per l'Italia - LuccaPlay Caption
Sometimes a nickname sticks and becomes the name someone goes by for their entire life. Simonetta is a common nickname for Simona, but it might also be a person's given name. Whoever gave her the name or nickname used the diminutivo (diminutive) suffix etto/etta to name her.
E comunque mi chiamo Simonetta.
And anyway, my name is Simonetta.
-Grazie, Simonetta. Sei proprio un'artista.
-Thank you, Simonetta. You really are an artist.
Captions 22-23, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP3 - Delitto tra le lenzuolaPlay Caption
3) Let's assume Simonetta is the name this woman has gone by her whole life, but I want to emphasize the fact that she is young and slender. We also need to assume I am on familiar terms with her. How could I thank her?
It's interesting to note that in Italian, people generally use the formula mi chiamo __________ (literally, "I call myself __________"), in conversation and introductions, rather than il mio nome è __________ (my name is __________). This gives them room to provide you with their nickname, not necessarily the name on their birth certificate.
In the following example from the story of Puccini's La Bohème, the main character introduces herself by using the nickname other people have given her, but she goes on to explain her real name.
Mi chiamano Mimì, ma il mio nome è Lucia.
They call me Mimi, but my name is Lucia.
Captions 1-2, Anna presenta - La Bohème di PucciniPlay Caption
4) Let's say Mimì is saying that she calls herself Mimì, not that others call her that. What could she say?
5) How could we talk about her name, using a common formula?
And of course, in the mix of nicknames are what we call i nomi vezzeggiativi — affectionate names for people. These affectionate names can also involve words that aren't strictly names (such as tesoruccia), but we'll get to these in another lesson.
In Un medico in famiglia, we have the little girl, Annuccia. Her real or given name will undoubtedly be Anna. Sometimes lengthening a name gives it prominence, makes it more audible, or warms it up. In Annuccia's case, her family uses the vezzeggiativo or affectionate suffix uccio/uccia to form her nickname. Since everyone calls her Annuccia, there's a fine line between calling a name a nickname or just someone's name. It's only going to matter on her carta d'identità (ID card) or other official documents.
E questa è Annuccia, la mia sorellina più piccola.
And this is Annuccia, my littlest little sister.Play Caption
In the popular Yabla series, Provaci Ancora Prof!, Camilla's young daughter, Livietta, was surely named Livia, but Livietta stuck. Who knows if they will keep calling her that when she grows up.
Senti, non è che potresti andare a prendere
Listen, you couldn't go to pick up
Livietta alla lezione di danza?
Livietta from her dance lesson, could you?
Captions 1-2, Provaci Ancora Prof! - S1E3 - Una piccola bestia feritaPlay Caption
The name Giuseppe, a favorite, is interesting because, depending on the region, the nickname will be different. In Tuscany, the nickname for Giuseppe is Beppe.
Beppe! Guardami. Me.
Beppe [nickname for Giuseppe]! Look at me. Me.Play Caption
We can take that nickname one step further and say Beppino, especially if the Beppe in question is not too tall.
Beppino is typical in Tuscany, but further south, Peppe or Peppino would be used. In this case the diminutive probably has nothing to do with the size of the guy. In the following example, Peppino's nickname is used, but is then abbreviated by his friend, who's calling him.
Me [forza], muoviti.
Come on, get moving.
Scendi, Peppi'. Ti devo dire una cosa importante.
Come down, Peppi'. I have to tell you something important.
Captions 40-43, Chi m'ha visto - film - Part 7Play Caption
Here is yet another nickname for Giuseppe, this time using an affectionate suffix on top of a nickname. In contrast to the above-mentioned Annuncia, the only name we have heard for the little girl in Medico in Famiglia, Peppuccio is probably a temporary (affectionate) nickname.
Mom! -Peppuccio [nickname of endearment for Giuseppe]!
Ho saputo che vai in Brasile,
I heard that you're going to Brazil,
ma che ci vai a fare, la rivoluzione?
but what are you going to do there, start a revolution?Play Caption
Especially in the south, the nickname for Giuseppe can take a more roundabout route. We take Giuseppe and make it a diminutive: Giuseppino. Then we just use the end of it and call someone Pino.
Pino Daniele, the famous singer-songwriter has always gone by the name Pino.
Tu dimmi quando quando
You tell me when, whenPlay Caption
We do the same for the feminine version, so a woman named Pina was almost surely christened as Giuseppina.
Fun fact: Although the feminine version of Giuseppe does technically exist, and it would be Giuseppa, most of the time the feminine version is already a diminutive: Giuseppina.
Come si chiama questa nonna? -E allora...
What's this grandmother's name? -And so...
Come si chiama? -Giuseppina.
What's her name? -Giuseppina.
Nonna Giuseppina. -Detta Pina.
Grandma Giuseppina. -Nicknamed Pina.
Detta Pina. -Sì.
Nicknamed Pina. -Yes.
Captions 34-37, L'Eredità -Quiz TV - La sfida dei sei. Puntata 3Play Caption
Another version of this, including the abbreviated one:
Pinu', be'? Ti sei ricordato?
Pinu', well? Do you remember?
Pinuccio, stammi a sentire.
Pinuccio, listen to me.
Captions 30-32, Sei mai stata sulla luna? - film - Part 16Play Caption
We started out with Giuseppe, which can become Beppe, Beppino, Peppe, Peppino, or Pino.
6) If we wanted to use an affectionate form for Giuseppina, detta Pina, what could we call her?
Un soprannome in Italian is often a common noun turned into a name (which we'll discuss in another lesson). The nicknames we have been discussing here can be considered to be in the category of diminutives, augmentatives, or, as we mentioned, affectionate versions of names. But we can also use the formula as in the previous example. For example, we can say Giuseppe, detto Peppino (Giuseppe, called Peppino).
Here are some common Italian names with their common nicknames. The list is partial as there are countless others.
Luigi (Louis) commonly becomes Gigi.
Filippo (Phlllip) can become Pippo.
Lorenzo (Lawrence) becomes Renzo or Enzo.
Mi chiamo Enzo, ho bisogno di lavorare.
My name is Enzo. I need a job.
Caption 52, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1Play Caption
Vincenzo (Vincent) might also become Enzo.
Leonardo (Leonard) might become Leo or Dino.
Francesco (Francis) could become Franco or Ciccio.
Alessandro (Alexander) becomes Sandro.
Domenico (Dominick) can become Mimmo.
Giovanni can become Gianni.
7) How do we get from Leonardo to Dino?
Sometimes babies are named because they are born on a saint's day, or another special feast day.
Annunziata might become Nunzia.
Natale might become Natalino.
Pasquale might become Pasqualino.
Here are some answers to the quiz questions above. There may be additional answers. If you have doubts, write to us!
1) Che stai facendo, Martinuccio?
2) Invece la perfezione, caro Paolo, non esiste.
3) Grazie, Simonettina. Sei proprio un'artista.
4) Mi chiamo Mimì, ma il mio vero nome è Lucia.
5) Si chiama Lucia, detta Mimì.
7) First we apply the diminutive suffix: Leonardino, then we take the last part and turn it into Dino.
A new movie featured on Yabla employs a verb we don't see very often except in particular military or work situations. The use of this verb has inspired us to talk about what we say in Italian when we leave a place, or want someone else to.
Congedare is "to invite somebody to leave": The reflexive form congedarsi is "to ask for and obtain permission to leave." In the following example, a waiter is hanging around a bit too long at the table he is serving. One of the two women having drinks is basically asking him to beat it.
Take your leave.
-E certo... Con permesso.
-Of course... Please excuse me.
Captions 77-78, Sei mai stata sulla luna? - filmPlay Caption
In the following example from a movie about Adriano Olivetti (of typewriter fame), Karen had been in the military, so it was natural for her to use the verb congedarsi.
E come mai è in Italia?
And how come you're in Italy?
-Mi sono congedata.
-I asked to be discharged.
Volevo dedicarmi un po' alla mia vera passione,
I wanted to devote myself a bit to my true passion,
Captions 51-54, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 16Play Caption
If she had resigned from a normal job, she might have said the following, using the reflexive, and therefore the auxiliary essere (to be).
Mi sono licenziata (I quit my job).
If she had been fired, it would have been transitive, not reflexive: Note the use of the auxiliary verb avere (to have).
Mi hanno licenziato (they fired me -- I was fired).
Mi hanno licenziata (they fired me -- I was fired [and I am a woman]).
The noun form congedo is a bit more common than the verb form, especially in reference to a leave of absence or, as in the following example, maternity leave.
And I want
che le donne in maternità abbiano un anno intero di congedo.
for women who are pregnant to have a whole year of maternity leave.
Captions 27-28, Adriano Olivetti - La forza di un sogno Ep. 1 - Part 10Play Caption
Another word for congedo is aspettativa.
La preside mi ha detto che hai inoltrato la domanda di aspettativa al dipartimento.
The principal told me that you had forwarded the request for a leave of absence to the department.Play Caption
Sending someone away with no regard or need for being polite is also common. You can say it with good intentions in the appropriate context, as in the following example:
Sono due giorni che ti porti dietro 'sta [questa] febbre.
It's been two days that you've been carrying around this fever.
-Con questa bella esperienza del camion-frigorifero sicuramente ti è salita,
-With the lovely experience of the refrigerator truck, it's surely risen,
quindi vattene a casa, ci penso io.
so get yourself home, I'll take care of it.
Captions 38-40, Il Commissario Manara - S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardivaPlay Caption
Vattene is also a way to get rid of someone in a more aggressive, emotional way.
No, sei un bugiardo! Vattene!
No, you're a liar! Get out of here!
Se mi dai il tempo di... -Non ti voglio più vedere.
If you give me the time to... -I don't want to see you again.
Captions 102-103, Questione di Karma - Rai CinemaPlay Caption
Often vattene is expanded to become even stronger: Vattene via! (Go away! Get lost!)
Let's take vattene apart. (Va-[t]te-ne): vai is the informal imperative of the verb andare, but it is often shortened to va'. We could say vai via, but vattene adds 2 more elements. It personalizes it with a sort of reflexive te (you, yourself). In addition, it implies that you should leave the place you are in. That's where the particle ne comes in, to mean "from here." The double T allows you to practically spit the words out and can really get the message across.
This compound verb in the infinitive would be andarsene: With it's connected object pronoun and particle, it's also called a verbo pronominale (pronominal verb — having to do with pronouns). Read about pronominal verbs here.
Andarsene vuol dire andare via da qualche luogo.
"To leave" means "to go away from some venue."
Che maleducato il tuo amico, se n'è andato senza neanche salutarmi.
"How rude your friend is, he went off without even saying goodbye."
Andarsene ha anche il significato di morire.
"To leave" also has the meaning of dying.
Captions 30-33, Marika spiega - Il verbo andarePlay Caption
And if I am the one leaving, I'll conjugate andarsene in the first person singular:
Me ne vado (I'm leaving [this place], I'll leave).
These are only some of the ways we leave or tell someone to leave. But please don't leave, cari amici di Yabla. Stay tuned for the next lesson!