Mar
15

Rewriting the bedsheets

By
A case in point.  "Ole" in Venetian are (or were) terracotta containers for cooking food.  I think "terracotta container for cooking food" would sound just as awkward in Italian.  And "tandoor"  wouldn't be much of a step in the right direction, either.

A case in point. “Ole” in Venetian are (or were) terracotta containers for cooking food. I think “terracotta containers for cooking food” would sound just as awkward in Italian as it does in English. And “tajine,” “chatti,” “shaguo,” “donabe,” “palayok,” or “Romertopf” wouldn’t be much of a step in the right direction, either. This would definitely be one nizioleto to leave alone.

The bedsheets, as you recall, are known as nizioleti here, and are the characteristic street signs with their often-exotic names in the Venetian language.

But hidden within them was a problem which nobody had ever noticed — nobody except Tiziana Agostini, the Assessore (person officially responsible) for Place Names.

The nizioleti are in Venetian, but she thought they should be in Italian. Time to move on, leave that quaint little old past behind, step up the game. Was she ever surprised last December when she discovered that the Venetians were massively opposed to this cultural non-improvement. A citizens’ group quickly formed to stop the madness and promote the repairing and repainting of the good old names that were already in place and doing just fine as they were, thanks so much.

Citizens’ groups here can’t count on accomplishing much beyond letting their dudgeon be known, but in this case the response came from everywhere, it seemed, and it was unanimous: We want the old names back.  Don’t fix the names.  Leave the names the hell alone.

And the outcry seems to have worked.

Ms. Agostini came out from under her desk when the bombardment stopped, and has been meeting with the core citizens’ group with the intention of reviewing and correcting the situation. Fancy way of saying “Put the words back where they belong.”

Meanwhile, the Gazzettino has undertaken a poll of its readers. Every day for about a week (the last day will be March 16), the same list of names is published in the paper, and the reader can indicate his/her preference by ticking the appropriate box.  Then one merely has to cut out the little survey form, and take it to one of the drop-off stations.  Happily, one of them is right here in via Garibaldi, though I would have gone all the way to the train station if that were my only option.

Naturally I’ve been ticking all the boxes on the right every day, and will keep on doing so till the end.

Then we’ll see if it ever made any difference.

This is the survey form, correctly filled out. I'm not, in fact, in favor of their writing "San Zanipolo," as everyone knows, but I voted for it on principle.

This is the survey form, correctly filled out.  The left column lists the words in Italian — on the right, their Venetian equivalents. I’m not, in fact, in favor of their adopting “San Zanipolo,” as everyone knows, but I voted for it on principle.

Brief, to the point, and in perfect Venetian.  Note the lack of double consonants, which is your first clue. You could make "salizada" more Italianesque by writing "salizzata," I suppose, but the correct corresponding word would have to be "selciato," or "stone-paved street." Not progress.

Brief, to the point, and in perfect Venetian. Note the lack of double consonants, which is your first clue. You could make “salizada” (paved) more Italianesque by writing “salizzata,” I suppose, but the correct Italian term would have to be “selciato,” which isn’t progress. “Streta” means “narrow” (in Italian, stretta).  Anyway, it’s fine like it is already.

The Street of the Little Fig Tree. In Italian, it would be "del piccolo fico."  But this is so much more appealing.  The tree itself seems smaller in Venetian.

The Street of the Little Fig Tree. In Italian, it would be “del piccolo fico.” Fine, but this is so much more appealing. The tree itself seems somehow smaller in Venetian.

 

 

 

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Categories : Venetian-ness

Comments

  1. Yvonne says:

    Thank you for voting on the “right” side! I’ve been nagging any Venetian people I know to do their voting. I did not try to influence their vote, I promise.

    I do love people power when it’s for a good cause.
    Yvonne recently posted..The teaser relents

  2. As a displaced (half) Venetian, I am shocked… nay, outraged (OK, a bit put out!) at this latest attempt to de-Venetianise la Serenisima. Hands off…. especially Zanipolo!

    And ‘del piccolo fico’? Like it would be referred to as fic*o* for very long by the young ‘uns!

    😉

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      I’m glad to hear your solidarity!! By the way, though, as I have mentioned in various blog posts over time, “Zanipolo” is something people seem to be devoted to — mostly people who don’t live here, that is. I have never heard anyone here of any age, up to 93 years old, ever say “Zanipolo.” I don’t know where it started, but it has taken on a life of its own, pretty much anywhere but here. Still, if I have to take it on to get the others as well, I’ll be glad.

      • Yeah, I guess Zanipolo is one of those contrary Venetian things that only people who no longer live there say… y’know, just to prove how ‘not Italian’ we are! LOL!

        Keep up the great work; I love your blog, even though it makes me homesick sometimes. 🙂

  3. Andrew says:

    Im glad to hear that common sense has prevailed. Thanks for another interesting article

  4. Erla says:

    I certainly hope you have also voted! Early and often, as they about voting in Boston.

  5. Andrew H. says:

    Did you vote on the Veneto secession, Erla?

  6. […] is a hydra-headed monster composed of graffiti, broken pavements, disintegrating nizioleti, and now strata of aging posters stuck up all over walls.  The city of Venice, and myriad […]

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