Main Piece: Proverb
“La famiglia è la patria del cuore”
“The family is the home of the heart”
Informant is Italian American with family from Italy who use Italian proverbs. She learned while spending time with her grandmother who would often say it when she was pleased that she could spend time with her entire family. Her grandmother helped teach her the importance of loving and enjoying being with family above all else through using this proverb.
Context: This is an Italian proverb that directly translates into English as “the family is the home of the heart”. My informant is Italian American and many proverbs she knows translate differently because the language or pronunciation is “Americanised” however this proverb comes directly from Italy. This proverb was collected in person at the informant’s dorm in Dallas, Texas.
Analysis: This proverb is neat because it is something my informant has gotten directly from Italy through her grandmother who grew up there. It shows that being connected with family is a large part of Italian culture and how the family is a large part of Italian culture.
Main piece: Proverb
“Good health for a hundred years”
Why does the informant know this piece?
Her family is Italian American and uses this proverb.
Where did the informant learn this piece?
She learned it from her family who uses the proverb when drinking or making toasts.
What does it mean to them?
It means to always keep your health as a priority and to wish good fortune and health to your loved ones and friends.
Context: This is an Italian American proverb that descends from the Italian word “Salute”, which means well being, and the Italian phrase “cent anno” which means one hundred years. It is a phrase that Italian Americans have blended the original Italian words to both sound differently and a slightly different mean than the direct translations. This proverb was collected in person at the informant’s dorm in Dallas, Texas.
Analysis: I find this proverb to be interesting because it is an example of a language being “Americanised.” It is an example of Italian Americans still connecting with their Italian culture but creating their own folklore for their community.
Main piece: Proverb
“Al povero mancano tante cose, all’avaro tutte”
“the poor man is lacking many things, the greedy man all”
Informant is Italian and lived a portion of his life in Milan, Italy. He learned it through spending time with his father, he would tell him this when he asked for money. To my informant, it means that a greedy man will never be satisfied and truly happy. But it is also humorous to him that when he would ask his father for money as a kid that this was his joking response.
Context: This is an Italian proverb that my informant learned from his father while living in Italy. It is a proverb that warns against being greedy. It translates directly to English while still keeping its intended meaning. I received this proverb from my informant in person in his dorm.
Analysis: I enjoyed learning this proverb from my informant for a few reasons. One is that it is something he learned while actually living in Italy as a kid and another is that I find it heartening that his father taught him this lesson about greed by using this proverb in a funny yet meaningful way. This another example of how proverbs are an important part of Italian folklore.
Informant’s Sicilian grandfather would, in hectic social or familial situations, exclaim “pazzoria,” or something to that effect, a loose Italian translation of “madhouse” in order to indicate the lunacy of the environment.
The informant was unsure of the exact spelling and was unable to find an authored example while I spoke to him, but he distinctly remembered his Grandfather saying “pazzoria” in the context he described.
“Pazzo” can indeed mean “crazy” and the suffix “ria” in Italian certainly suggests an establishment that deals in a particular thing, so the idea that a Sicilian man would say this sounds entirely plausible.