“I am going to kill HER!!!!”

Drawing by my talented nephew Gaetano

As with many languages, Italian nouns are either masculine or feminine which occasionally has caused me confusion.  Perhaps the most alarming example was one summer shortly after we were married. In the middle of the night, Gustavo snapped on the light, grabbed a magazine, rolled it up, jumped up on the bed and started repeating, “I am going to kill her, I am going to kill her” as he stared off into space. I sat bolt upright.  I was the only female in the room but he was not looking at me. He was focusing on various spots in space as though he were in some sort of trance.  Still, it was disconcerting. “I am going to kill HER,” he said again. “Who is she?” I blurted out. “That damn mosquito who has been buzzing around my head for the past hour.” “Ah,” I answered, relieved. “And you are sure this mosquito is a she?” “Yes, LA ZANZARA, mosquitos are always feminine, bunch of blood-suckers!” I decided it was not a good moment for an argument about mosquito gender, so I pulled the sheets over my head and went back to sleep.

*Gaetano M., who drew the picture above, is my talented 12-year-old nephew.

Post in: Italiano

Trisha Thomas
Trisha is a TV journalist working for AP TV News in Rome. She is married to an Italian and is a Mamma of three.

6 Comments

  1. Angela
    2011/10/11

    What about the very Italian common use of naming and calling their dogs with human names and their children with dogs’ names? Just go at any school and wait to see what happens as the children come out. You’ll hear nice mums calling for the greatest and legendary characters: ‘Ettore’, ‘Cicerone’, ‘Penelope’, ‘Fidel’, ‘Luther’, ‘Cesare’, ‘Sissi’, ‘Ulisse’. This is not because they have blessed their own child with the aura of the myth. In fact, only a bunch of regal and jumping labradors, golden retrievers, setters, hounds, jack russels and dachshunds will proudly respond and feel concerned about these superior epithets, with abnegation and gratitude. Then, you’ll see a crowd of screaming sons and daughters dragging along and begging for a snack, hardly looking at their mums, grumbling and mumbling, planning some kind of new and accurate whims. No wonder then whether their beloved mums have awarded them with these pretty-pretty doggy names: ‘Titti’, ‘Giuli’, ‘Luchi’, ‘Ninni’, ‘Ginni’, ‘Valli’, ‘Giampi’, ‘Eli’, ‘Ila’ or ‘Viki’. And, according to this, no doubts who these mums rely on. When Homer had to think of a king for Ithaka he rather preferred Ulysses to ‘Tippi’ or ‘Patti’. He couldn’t know that today probably only a happy and grateful bassethound would respond to his expectations.
    Angela

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2011/10/12

      Angela — your comments are funny and fascinating. Oddly, it sounds like Italians are heading in an American direction. Americans have to find a two syllable nickname for anyone that has a name that is any longer. When I was young, no one would stick to my entire name “Patricia”. Everyone called me “Pat” or “Patty” which to me sounded like “Fat” or “Fatty” and I did not want. I then chose to have the nickname “Trisha” which most Americans quickly shortened to “Trish”, which to me sounds like “Fish”. I much prefer the way many Italian friends shorten my name to “Tri” which in English sounds like “Tree”. Better to be a Tree than a Fish! Or maybe it is better to be a dog and be called Ulysses. My friend Daniela has a dog with the name of Ulysses’ wife, Penelope. That is a nice one too.

      Reply
  2. Alan
    2011/10/11

    So, those blood-sucking crooks at JP Morgan and BNY Mellon are all LA BANKSTERS then?

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2011/10/12

      Thank you for you comment Alan. If I get my act together I hope to have a blog this Saturday on “those blood-sucking banksters” and the growing grass-roots protest movements against them. On Saturday there is a big protest organized in Italy by the Indignados — copying the Spanish name of “the indignant”, and will be similar to the Occupy Wall Street Protest.

      Reply
  3. lisa chiodo | renovating italy
    2011/10/12

    I was very confused as to how everyone knew our daughters name when we arrived in Italy. She was only three and many would say Ahhh carina bella!
    Of course her name is Carina…..
    ciao lisa

    PS love your nephews artwork. think he would get on well with my very talented now 9 year old daughter.

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2011/10/12

      Thanks for your comment Lisa. Carina is such a pretty name. For those non-Italian speakers “carina” in Italian adds the “ina” end to the word “cara” or “dear”. So, carina could be roughly translated as “little dear”, but it is more commonly used as “pretty little one”.

      Lisa, if your daughter would like to draw something about an Italian experience for this blog, I would be happy to publish it. Of course, I understand if you want to keep it for your own excellent blog on Italy http://www.renovataingitaly.com

      Reply

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