Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Lagoon language

English words borrowed from Venetian include artichoke, arsenal, ballot, casino, contraband, gazette, ghetto, imbroglio, gondola, lagoon, lido, lotto, marzipan, pantaloon, pistachio, quarantine, regatta, scampi, sequin and zany. “Ciao” – a long-standing contraction of the courteous Venetian salutation “vostro schiavo” (your humble servant) – has now become a global greeting.
The TLS talks Venetian.


Giovanni Tiso said...

Ah, but they missed the best word of all: gibigiana (pr. gee-bee-ja-na), the dancing flash of reflected light on the surface, undulating back and forth, of the lagoon.

Giovanni Tiso said...

Wait a minute: zany derives from zanni? That's great! We don't have an Italian derivation for it, but English does.

(The zanni was a Venetian commedia dell'arte masque, if you look up fame dello zanni on youtube and skip through the first few minutes of explanation in Italian, you'll see Dario Fo give a masterful, unforgettable rendition of his famous hunger.)

Paul said...

Giovanni, surely you knew that zany was derived from Zanni. I am beginning to doubt whether you are really Italian. Your English is too good.

Anyway, thank you for gibigiana, which I did not know. And I shall seek the Fo.

Giovanni Tiso said...

I didn't know that zany derived from Zanni, but I knew that lazy derives from Lazarus, which is my favourite etimology ever. (He was dead, but people reckoned he just needed to get up and walk it off.)

If you're going to seek the Fo, I should provide the introduction: it starts off with Zanni's dream, which is all about preparing the most sumptuous meal imaginable. But he wakes just as he's about to eat, and desperation sets in, until he fantasizes to eat himself. Finally he finds a foodsource - of sorts, you shall see. The language is grammelot, so not words in any language.

Starts at about four minutes fifty here

(Turns out I had already linked to it over at Harvest Bird's. Turns out I'm a very boring and repetitive person.)

(I have half a mind to start a grammelot of my own by collecting the word verification strings demanded by blogger to validate comments. I'm about to type "lanavaph".)

Paul said...

Keseschd. I am collecting the combinations of letters in rounds of Scrabble which I would like to be words.

Giovanni Tiso said...

Excellent, we should merge our list and then publish a book along the lines of The Meaning of Liff.

I am not above plagiarism, clearly.

("gibinale". Super.)

Lyndon said...

zany derives from zanni? ... which, unless memory of my commedia research fails me, is short for Giovanni?


Giovanni Tiso said...

Sort of, yes. It's Venetian for Gianni, which in Italian is short for Giovanni, but in Venetian isn't, since the Venetian for Giovanni, Zuan, is actually shorter than Zanni. Gianni and Giovanni, Zanni and Zuan are all separate names really.

All clear? There will be a short test next week.

Anonymous said...

I saw kiwifruit from Italy in the supermarket today, which made me wonder if perhaps 'zespri' should be on this list.

And the word verification is 'dadifili', which I believe means 'love of an early-20th Century European art movement which concentrated its anti war politics through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works'.

Giovanni Tiso said...

Great, we have the first entry then.
Here are some I copied down in my younger days from Liff:

ABILENE (adj) Descriptive of the pleasant coolness on the reverse side of a pillow
DUDDO (n) The most deformed potato in any given collection of potatoes
GREAT WAKERING (participial verb) Panic which sets in when you badly need to go to the lavatory and cannot make up your mind about what magazine or book to take with you.
NUBBOCK (n) The kind of person who has to leave before a party can relax and enjoy itself.
PEORIA (n) The fear of peeling too few potatoes

I routinely suffer from peoria.

(oh, and: fohors)

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling said...

Shouldn't that be vegetato schiavo?

A housewife has just got out of the shower when she hears a knock at the door

"Who is it?"

"Blind man."

Thinking herself safe she opens the door to be greeted by a tradesman.

"nice set of jubblies lady, now where would you like these Venetians hung?"