Tag Archives: Italian chauvinism

Itlish: English Words in “Common” Use in Italian

Italian, like English and many others, accretes words from other languages. Often these are modern terms which have no easy equivalent in antique Latin or Greek roots. For example: Ten years ago, Italians didn’t know how to refer to the process of scanning (a page, a photograph) using a scanner. The correct word – digitalizzare Read More…

Italian, like English and many others, accretes words from other languages. Often these are modern terms which have no easy equivalent in antique Latin or Greek roots.

For example: Ten years ago, Italians didn’t know how to refer to the process of scanning (a page, a photograph) using a scanner.

The correct word – digitalizzare (“digitalize”) – is unwieldy. An Italian speaker might instinctively invent a verb based on the foreign noun. But scannare already has a meaning in Italian: to slaughter! Which seems rather overkill for some poor, innocent document.

The compromise has been to use scannerizzare – “to scannerize”. Or else to say scannare with a wink, to acknowledge that the speaker knows that the usage is not correct.

clubs

There are lots of perfectly good words that one could use in Italian (associazione, circolo) for a group of people who gather to share a common interest, but for some reason the English “club” is also used.

However, for reasons which completely elude me, a short English u often ends up pronounced as eh by Italian speakers. Furthermore, English plurals are often abused by Italian speakers, being added or removed (with or without a superfluous apostrophe) without any consideration for real English usage. Hence the satirical music group Squallor could produce a song entitled Ti ho conosciuto in un clubs, where the final word is singular and is pronounced “clebs”.

stress

There is no good Italian equivalent for the modern use of “stress” in English. You could say sotto tensione to mean “under stress,” but stress is so commonly used that most people would now say sotto stress or stressato/a (stressed) and stressare (to make stressed, to cause stress).

handicap, handicappato

Usually pronounced without the initial h (there is no h in Italian) and, apparently, there is no native word for handicapped.

See also: Italglish, or: Going Footing in Your Smoking

The Boys of barCamp

For me, it started with a comment on Pandemia. Luca Conti (one of Italy’s most influential bloggers) reported the quizzical complaint of Marina Bellini: why were there practically no females signed up for barCamp Rome?   Luca Mascaro, Federico, Diego Bianchi, Luca Conti I’d been reading more and more Italian blogs lately, especially since I Read More…

For me, it started with a comment on Pandemia. Luca Conti (one of Italy’s most influential bloggers) reported the quizzical complaint of Marina Bellini: why were there practically no females signed up for barCamp Rome?

whodiegoluca

 

Luca Mascaro, Federico, Diego Bianchi, Luca Conti

I’d been reading more and more Italian blogs lately, especially since I met some Italian bloggers at a conference in Torino back in December. Luca had endeared himself to me by telling me, as soon as we met, that he had liked my piece on Bormio. And I’d gotten to know Lele Dainesi since he began doing PR consulting for TVBLOB (although, dazzled by the charms of my boss Lisa, he rather ignored me until I established my geek street cred by showing him my own site/blog).

greenshirt

The week after we hung out together in Torino, Lele, Luca, and many other Italian bloggers were at LeWeb3 in Paris (to my intense jealousy – I wanted to meet social networking researcher/goddess danah boyd – but my big boss wouldn’t pay for me to go). Amidst the controversy over how that conference was run, Lele amused himself by posting a Flickr photostream of “the women of LeWeb3.”

lele

^ Lele

So, in answer to the question “Why are women so under-represented at tech conferences?”, I commented that it might be because we hadn’t been invited, and that, fond as I am of Lele, initiatives like his LeWeb photos make us uncomfortable: “We like to feel appreciated for our brains before our tette.”

Lele jokingly replied that he simply loves beautiful women and, if they have brains as well as breasts, so much the better.

siinapasteris

^ Tony Siino, Vittorio Pasteris

(I was irritated by a similar posting of photos of The Babes of CES – really, guys, you can stop asking yourselves why women don’t come to tech conferences. As I commented on Thomas Hawk’s blog, it’s probably because we’re tired of trying to have conversations with your bald spots.)

diegob

^ Diego Bianchi aka Zoro

Another commenter pointed out that I didn’t need an invitation to come to a barCamp: anyone is welcome to attend and to speak. Then I received email from Amanda, a British woman (married to an Italian) living in Rome and working in tech (Excite), wanting to know if I was coming to barCamp, as she would like to meet me. Turns out she works with Diego, whom I knew from vlogEurope, who would also be at barCamp, along with others I knew, or wanted to meet.

redhead

^ Mystery Man C, Luca Lorenzetti, Andrea Martines, Mystery Woman 0, Mystery Man F

So I bought a train ticket on Thursday (100 euros – ouch!) and arrived Friday evening at Rome’s Stazione Termini. From there I would take the metro to the end of the line, near the home of our friends Serena and Sandro. As I looked around me in the metro station, I reflected that, the further south you go in Italy, the more good-looking the men. Not that they’re ugly up where we live, but I’m often astonished at the sheer beauty of Roman men (I admit to prejudice: my husband was born in Rome, though that doesn’t make him a Roman). But no one’s allowed to take photos in the metro, so I couldn’t document the ones who particularly caught my attention that evening. (What you see on this page are men who attended barCamp.)

redshirt

Simone Onofri

Serena picked me up at the metro station and brought me home to have dinner (and lots of wine) with the family. Sandro went over my Italian slang pages, making additions and corrections; eventually I want to get him on video demonstrating and explaining Roman slang. (I do have some video from that evening, finally edited and posted.)

whoblueconsole

Tommaso Sorchiotti

Saturday morning Serena dropped me at the bus stop to begin an hour-long odyssey across Rome. The day was beautiful and the ride fun; I had to change bus lines once and ask directions several times (I was delighted at the friendliness and helpfulness of the Romans). I found my way to the Linux Club in via Libetta by around 9:45, for an event that was scheduled to start at 10.

stefanto

This being Rome, we actually got started around 11:30, with the first speakers starting to talk while some of us were still registering for our badges and t-shirts. I stood in line with Amanda and Antonio (above), a winsome Sicilian philosopher who works for a company that makes adver-games (cool!).

barCamps are informal, and this one utterly chaotic: I had a hard time figuring out what was going on where and when, so I didn’t make it to any of the talks I thought I’d like to hear. But the ones I did end up listening to were interesting, and designed to provoke conversation rather than dispense wisdom in only one direction. Me being me, I got more than a few words in edgewise.

whotyping

^ behind: Davide Salerno, in front: Cristian Conti

blondedoor^ Federica Fabbiani, Andrea Cuius, Mystery Woman 2, Mystery Man J

During one such intervento, I pointed out that the Italian blogging community ignores the many foreigners blogging in and about Italy, whose perspective is different and potentially useful. Some people pitched in enthusiastically that they had recently discovered some of these blogs, and in the hallway afterwards several told me that they’d specifically discovered mine (thanks to a recent link from Lele), and enjoyed it – always good to hear!

dooragain^ Mystery Man K, Marco Rosella, Luca Alagna, Mystery Men N (background), O

When I wasn’t listening to “formal” presentations, there were plenty of other interesting conversations going on. Elisabetta, whom I met at vlogEurope, had come down from Milan to conduct live online interviews during dolMedia‘s coverage of the barCamp. She interviewed me about my 25 years online (a topic I had considered speaking on, but there were too many speakers already) and about TVBLOB.

A haphazard lunch was served, of Rome’s excellent casereccio bread with slices of roast pork, mortadella (aka bologna), olive paté, and various other goodies provided by San-Lorenzo.com. It was a scramble to get everybody fed, but, after years of boarding school, I am a champion at scrounging food – I didn’t go hungry (though I remained desperate for coffee for a long time).

doorhand

^ Mystery Men K, O, Luca L. (again), Diego Magnani

doorway

^ Mystery Woman 3, Leo Sorge,and Palmasco (foreground)

I realized that Robin Good, whose blog I’ve been reading for years, was present – and the photo on his site does not nearly do him justice robingood(nor does mine, unfortunately). I had not been able to locate his talk on Come pagare l’affitto con il sito (“how to pay the rent with your site”), but he was happy to give me individual advice. He, too, had followed Lele’s link to my site recently, so had some truly useful things to say. (I’m now mulling over what I’ll actually carry out.)

Robin is Italian, but writes his site in at least three languages (English, Italian, and Spanish, that I know of – and he may be adding more), and does a nice job of explaining all sorts of high tech stuff even to non-techies – I recommend it if you’re interested in understanding what we nerds are up to.

I spent a lot of the day talking with Amanda, who’s trying to set up a Girl Geeks Dinner in Italy – we need to find a woman who works at a high level in IT in Italy to be our inspirational speaker. I also talked a lot with Diego, about everything possible, and lots of other people. By the end of the day I was exhausted from talking.

table2

Mystery Man T, Stefigno, Mystery Man V, Gaspar and Fabrizio

Around 8:30 pm, 40 of us moved a few blocks down to a restaurant for a group dinner. Pastarito is part of a chain in Italy, almost American in its approach and menu styling. It wouldn’t have been my first choice for a meal, but it was nearby and could seat 40 people, so probably the best we could do in the circumstances. The food was okay, though nowhere near the level of the dinner I organized for vlogEurope (said she modestly).

table1

^ Matteo Marchelli (red sleeves)

shaggy

^ waiter who looks like Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Fabrizio Ulisse

The dinner in any case was mostly about (more) conversation, though we were all running out of steam by the time we broke up at 11 pm. Diego dropped me and Luca at a metro stop, but the Roman metro closes for (ongoing) repairs every night at 9, and we couldn’t figure out where to catch the substitute bus. So we walked to a taxi stand, and finally found a taxi. Which cost a LOT less, for the distance, than it would have in Milan. I collapsed at Serena and Sandro’s around midnight.

whowhopino

^ Andrea Beggi, Mystery Man X, Pino (who shared an excellent dish of mussels at dinner)

fabio

Many thanks to Fabio Masetti (above) who organized it all, very well.

As for Les Boys: if all tech conferences were stocked with this many good-looking men, more women would probably go to them! (Sorry my photos aren’t so great – I really must get a better camera.)

I’ll leave it to the public to decide who is il piu’ figo (the hottest). If you’ve got better photos you’d like me to post or can provide links to (and names for – thanks to Luca for those already fixed), please do! Some photos I’ve already found are Luca’s.
emanuelestef

Emanuele Quintarelli and Stefano (Aghenor) Vitta

Pinching Italians

Recently asked on the Fodor’s travel forum: “We’ve been told it is customary and acceptable for men in Italy to pinch women’s bottoms. Is this true and, if it is, what is the customary and acceptable response?” Over the years I’ve lived in Italy I’ve been asked this question several times. And it always makes Read More…

Recently asked on the Fodor’s travel forum: “We’ve been told it is customary and acceptable for men in Italy to pinch women’s bottoms. Is this true and, if it is, what is the customary and acceptable response?”

Over the years I’ve lived in Italy I’ve been asked this question several times. And it always makes me laugh because, while it may once have been normal behavior for Italian men, I experienced this kind of thing far more in India (where it’s called “eve teasing”) than I ever have in Italy.

When I was a teenager in India in the late 70s/early 80s, foreign women were considered “easy” and therefore worth a try (verbal or physical), though Indian women out alone were also harassed. I don’t understand what drives men to do this. How stupid do you have to be to believe that some woman whose bottom you grab or to whom you say “Hey, sexy baby” is going to swoon into your arms?

By the end of my high school years in India I had been groped and “hello darling’d” enough to know how to avoid it (as far as that was possible). When I returned for a college year abroad in Benares, I was surprised to find myself the only woman in our group who was never bothered at all. In retrospect, I think I went around that year with such a forbidding expression that no one dared come near me. (I am also taller and heavier than many Benarsi men, which may have scared them off.)

I didn’t know much about Italy when I first began travelling here, so it never occurred to me to expect such. (I was always accompanied by Enrico in any case.) And, in all these years, it’s never happened. Except once, riding in a very crowded bus in Rome, I got groped. If I could have identified the culprit I would have slapped him, but of course these slimeballs judge their situations very carefully, and I didn’t want to slap the wrong man.

An Italian colleague tells me that she’s been groped a few times in the metro in Milan. It’s called palpeggiamento, and the favored technique is the mano morta – the “dead hand” left dangling where it will brush up against something, but the culprit can claim innocence if confronted.

My colleague’s response is to step back hard onto the guy’s foot with her sharp high heel, then turn around and say sweetly, “Did I step on you? I’m soooo sorry.” This or something similar would be the response of most Italian women – who do NOT consider being fondled by strangers to be expected or tolerable behavior!

Someone else in the Fodor’s forum said that her daughter, on a study abroad year in Florence, had been warned by her university to expect verbal and physical harassment, and that the best response was simply to ignore it. She duly was hassled, and, as instructed, ignored it.

It seems to me that the administrators of these college programs are encouraging bad behavior by instructing their students to put up with it, when no one else in Italy would, and the girls themselves would not tolerate such treatment back home. So the Florentines obligingly perpetuate their grandfathers’ myth of the butt-pinching, wolf-whistling Italian man. (Perhaps if we pointed out to these young men how desperately old-fashioned this is, they would be embarrassed into stopping.)

Then there are the American women tourists who, having heard all the stories, claim to feel disappointed if they don’t get grabbed in the street – they feel they’ve missed out on a quintessential Italian experience. Umm, well, the guy who pinches your bottom is surely not one you would actually want to have sex with – it’s not exactly a smooth approach, is it? Wait for the one who hands you a good line and buys you a good dinner. Quite a few tourists have had a great vacation this way, and some have even ended up married!

(On the other hand, don’t be surprised or shocked to learn that he’s already married. Adultery is something of a national sport, and what could be easier or safer than a fling with a woman who will soon be leaving?)

Some Italian terms for seduction can be found here (along with a lot of very rude words).

So… ever been pinched in Italy?