Category Archives: Abruzzo Proverbs

Proverbi Abruzzesi – 3 – Power struggles

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Scottish Enlightenment

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had time to think about this blog. My head’s been full of all sorts of other stuff, like Scotland nearly becoming independent and the reawakening of a nation to claim its identity and voice within the United Kindgom. Oh and work too.  There’s been quite a lot of that too.

For anyone following me on Facebook, you might have noticed a slight surge in the number of political posts I’ve been tacking up on my timeline. Yes, I’m one of those people who were energized by the referendum campaign, one of the sleeping electorate who finally woke up to smell the (burnt) coffee of national and international politics.

Happily, my  own personal Scottish enlightenment has involved a lot of reading too, both online and in books. When I don’t understand something, I go straight to a book in search of answers, or when I’m reading for pleasure, I constantly come across things that tie into real-life experience, shedding light on it or expressing it perfectly in words.  Nothing really changes in human nature.  We just keep doing the same old things, and since many great writers of the past saw it all before us, we just have to look to their words for help in understanding what we’re still seeing today.

Books are always the answer

Like last night, flicking through Michael Rosen’s version of Aesop’s Fables, I picked the story of the wolf and the lamb to read to my little person. As we got to the moral of the story, I couldn’t help thinking how well it described the abuse slung at the Yes campaign during the Scottish referendum and the ability of the other side (the No people) to come up with all sorts of excuses to  deny their own behaviour and still bring the other side down. Fast forward to the current UK general election and press repeat.  Each side pedalling dreams and ridiculing the other side’s vision as lies.

aesopsfablesint

But since this blog is supposed to be about Italian literature, I’d better stay on topic and get back to the lingo of my adopted land: Italiano/Abruzzese.

There’s nothing better than an Italian proverb for hitting the nail on the head.

Local Abruzzo dialect: 

Non créde a suònne, ca le suònne ‘nganne

Italian: Non credete ai sogni, perché ingannano. 

Read the rest of this entry

Proverbi Abruzzesi – 2 – Weather

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In keeping with the kind of day I’ve had in lovely, wintery-for-once Abruzzo, this week’s proverb is going to be about the weather. But not the one pictured.

Passo Lanciano - Mammarosa

Passo Lanciano – Mammarosa

Our Maiella mountain does look like that sometimes, and I can highly recommend taking a trip up there for some downhill skiing, snowshoeing, sledging, snowmobiling, ski-mountaineering, or wait for it, even ice-running (which I discovered in Abruzzo).  Oh, and you don’t have to be sporty to enjoy it, you can even just spend a few hours in front of the log fire in the ski chalet, with a hot chocolate – rum punch – red wine – coffee (delete as appropriate) in hand, chatting to the wee old man from the soccorso alpino  who I don’t think actually does much Alpine life-saving, more like chin-wagging and grappa-supping. But he’s happy to fill the wait for your polenta, sausages, pasta or arrosticini lamb skewers with action-packed stories of life on the wrong side of snowdrifts, avalanches, blizzards, blackouts… you name it, he’s been through it.

Well, back to my stories about the weather. Read the rest of this entry

Abruzzo Proverbs – 1

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This is the first in my new series of off-the-cuff, having-a-break, flash translations.

Since I’m pretty busy at the moment and can’t really take too much time away from what I should be doing, I was looking for something short, sharp and snippety… something that’ll take me 10 minutes to write and you no more than 10 seconds to read. But still something literary about life in Italy…

Peppino Di Battista

Peppino Di Battista

Rooting around on my bookshelves, I found this.  PROVERBI ABRUZZESI. I IERI E OGGI. 2000. by Peppe Di Battista, published by Rocco Carabba.

Proverbs, well you can’t get shorter or pithier than that, I thought.

Peppe Di Battista gathered them from the Abruzzo towns of Castelfrentano, Lanciano, Fossacesia, Orsogna, Roia Del Sangro, Archi (where we are!), Pizzoferrato, Buonanotte, Casoli, Mozzagrogna, Rocca San Giovanni and presented them in groups:

behaviour – morals – popular sayings, -weather and the seasons – mottoes – luck – villages – vices and virtues – superstitions and customs – animals – life lessons – curses 

So here goes.  Since I like literature with a lesson, today’s proverb comes from the morals section:

Local dialect: Cent’anne de malencunije, nen cacce ‘na lire de debbéte

Italian: Cent’anni di malinconia non toglie una lira del debito 

EN translation: 100 years of sadness won’t reduce the debt by a lira

Meaning: there’s nothing to be gained by living a life of poverty

I like it this a lot, and might even think about learning the Abruzzo dialect to use it as my excuse-du-jour when OT asks how the savings fund is coming (or not) along. 

homework

Well, better go and help the LL with her homework… although hopefully not coming to “blows” like they would have you do in Lanciano:

Bòtte e panèlle, fa le fije bbèlle.

Percosse e pane, fanno i figli belli.

Blows and bread make for beautiful children.

(A strict upbringing with the necessary support from the family will bring good results)

Which is quite similar to:

Pane e mazzate, fije aducate.

Pane e bastonate fanno i figli educati.

Bread and blows make for well-behaved children. 

Back soon with some more.