Learn Italian in Song: Tu Vuo’ Fa’ o’ Talebano

“Gino the Chicken” was a phenomenon in Italy a few years ago. Today a reader comment on my translation of Tu Vuo’ Fa’ L’Americano directed me to YouTube, where I ran across Gino’s version of the song, directed at Osama bin Laden:

You Want to Be a Taliban

Tienni la barba longa chiu’ d’un metro, You wear your beard longer than a meter
nu turbantiello e ‘na casacca usata, a little turban and a used cassock
passi spiritato su Al Jazeera you appear possessed on Al Jazeera
comme ‘nu ‘uappo pe’ te fa’ guarda’: like a Mafioso to get yourself looked ad
Tu vuo’ fa ‘o talebano, talebano, talebano, You want to be a Taliban
siente a me, chi t’o fa fa’? Listen to me, who forces you to?
Hai i precetti del Corano, You have the precepts of the Koran
ma poi schianti l’aeroplano, But then you crash airplanes
tutto il mondo vuo’ disfa’. You want to undo the whole world
Tu skif’ ‘o rock’n roll, You find rock ‘n’ roll disgusting
tu skif’ ‘o baseball, You find baseball disgusting
ma i sordi p’a jihad But the money for jihad
chi te li da’ ? Who gives it to you?
U petrolio di papa’ ? Daddy’s oil?
Tu vuo’ fa ‘o talebano, talebano, talebano, You want to be a Taliban
ma si’ nato in Arabia: but you were born in Arabia
Sient’ a me, non ce sta nient ‘a fa’, Listen to me, there’s nothing to be done
capisc Osama’ , tu vuo’ fa’ ‘o taleba’, Understand, Osama, you want to be a Taleban
Bin Laden ‘o taleba’. Bin Laden the Taliban.
Ai maomettani parli comme a un prete, To the Muslims you talk like a priest
ca si tu si’ mullah i’ so’ cinese, But if you’re a mullah, I’m Chinese
e lieggi ‘nata vota ‘stu Curano, Go read the Koran for once
lasciaci ‘n pace e vattene co’ Omar! Leave us alone or go away with Omar
Tu vuo’ fa ‘o talebano, talebano, talebano, You want to be a Taliban
attent’ a te, chi t’o fa fa’? Look out, who makes you do it?
Spacci oppio co’ l’afgano You push opium with the Afghans
dal confine pakistano, from the Pakistan border
ce lo porti fino a qua. you bring it to us all the way here
Tu skif’ ‘o rock’n roll, You find rock ‘n’ roll disgusting
tu skif’ ‘o baseball, You find baseball disgusting
ma i sordi p’a jihad But the money for jihad
chi te li da’ ? Who gives it to you?
L’eroina afganista’? Afghan heroin?
Tu vuo’ fa ‘o talebano, talebano, talebano, You want to be a Taliban
ma si’ nato in Arabia: but you were born in Arabia
Sient’ a me, non ce sta nient ‘a fa’, Listen to me, there’s nothing to be done
Capisc Osamà, tu vuo’ fa’ ‘o taleba’, Understand, Osama, you want to be a Taleban
Bin Laden ‘o taleba’. Bin Laden the Taliban.
Collin Pauell, Giorg’ Bush… Colin Powell, George Bush…

4 thoughts on “Learn Italian in Song: Tu Vuo’ Fa’ o’ Talebano

  1. Sabrina

    It isn’t italian, it’s Napolitan.. it’s very different, the same if you compare English speaked in London or in New York.
    You can only speak this in Napoli (a Italian city) and if you go in another part of italy you won’t be understand.

    Sorry for my bad english, I speak italian.

  2. il biggo

    Will anybody ever read this? Oh well, whatever.
    I can’t believe I’m stumbling on this 18 years after the “fact” – and that somebody would still listen to this in 2012. Oh, btw: I’m a language nerd, the singer in this parody, and the Official Singing Voice for Gino The Chicken .-). Not my “true” voice, mind you: it’s pitched up a few tones.

    The written lyrics are somewhat wrong, just a few words here and there; I guess this was an unpolished version and that it was redone a couple weeks later, when it became a meme. It got an estimated 5+ millions downloads in a time when there were no Youtube, no social networks and no search engines, just by word of mouth. Which is pretty incredible a feat for web contents made in Italy (/Switzerland) in 2001.

    And yes, it’s “Neapolitan”-ish, although Northern Italians shouldn’t have any problems understanding it. It’s probably easier to understand by listening than by reading the subtitles – I’m pretty sure some words aren’t spelled like that.
    “Turbantiell'” is fake dialect. The real word for a turban is “tammuriell'”, and it was “too” Neapolitan for the rest of Italy, so we made up a word.
    “Skif'”, with a K? The right spelling is “schif'”, from “schifare”, which in turn comes from “schifo”, disgust.
    There isn’t a real translation for “schifare” in this meaning. Usually you’d say “mi schifa” as a colloquial version of “mi fa schifo”, “it does/provokes me disgust”=”it disgusts me”. To “schifare” something is a, uhm, proactive version of “being disgusted by”: “Ti schifo e ti sputo”, literally: I disgust you and I spit you, meaning “I find you disgusting and I spit on you”. The grammar in that sentence is completely borked, and SO MUCH satisfying.
    Oh, and “Capisc'”: I’m not sure it’s a real word. I got it from Weird Al, actually: in “La Lasagna”, his parody of “La Bamba”, he sings “Capish paisà, capish paisà?”=”do you understand, mate?”, but I never heard it anywhere else. Might be Ameritalian. Sort of a second-generation Italian, Mafioso style.

    I myself am NOT from Naples, nor have I ever been there. I’m Swiss, actually, ok, the whole Gino adventure has been a big, lucky mess. Un gran casino, diciamolo. I just happened to be there for a quick parody, and ended up composing and performing some 60 original songs for the TV series o_O

  3. Deirdre Straughan Post author

    (It takes me a while to get to my comments…) I am honored to hear from the original Gino the Chicken! I only vaguely followed the meme at the time (it was a pretty busy time in my own life), but obviously I was amused by it. Congratulations! Weird fame is sometimes the best kind.

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