Are Italians naughty by nature?

by Bernard O'Shea
Ronaldinho, St. Jakob Stadion, Basel (Switzerl...


If you are a follower of world football you would know that some Brazilian footballers and, to a lesser extent, Portuguese ones, are better known by their first names only, or their nicknames. For example, there was the Brazilian Ronaldo and one called Ronaldinho, the –inho suffix on the latter meaning “little”. Thus Ronaldinho = little Ronaldo. I myself have been nicknamed Bernardinho by friends and colleagues (because of my interest in European and Brazilian Portuguese, my great footballing skills and my love of football). However, since then I have put on about 10 kilograms and some years so I can’t really be called “little Bernard” anymore, so nowadays Bernardo is more appropriate if I want to sound a bit exotic in a Latino way.

Italian has the same concept, using the –ino and –ina suffixes

  • il ragazzo, the boy
  • il ragazzino, the little boy
  • la ragazza, the girl
  • la ragazzina, the little girl

But Italian also seems to take it further: the suffixes –one and –ona denote “big”

  • il ragazzone, the big boy
  • la ragazzona, the big girl

Following this logic, my exotic Italian persona would be Bernardone 🙂

Interestingly, Italian also has the suffixes –accio and –accia, indicating “bad”

  • il ragazzaccio, the bad boy
  • la ragazzaccia, the bad girl

Since Portuguese, as far as I know, does not have this concept, and from memory French doesn’t have these type of suffixes at all, this would suggest to me that Italian boys and girls are a lot more naughty than their Romance language counterparts.

So, let’s listen to some music that immediately comes to mind, or more precisely to Bernardaccio’s mindaccio. It’s a live performance of Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders singing Bad Boys Get Spanked. Mmmmmm

StateLibQld 1 113036 Cartoon of students recei...

Cartoon of students receiving the cane, 1888 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To spank in Italian is sculacciare, and a spanking is una sculacciata. (Dare una sculacciata is a another way of saying to spank, or to give a spanking.)

My Italian guide books say you should be careful when using the –accio and –accia suffixes in case you offend people, but they do not give any examples of how one might be offensive. This is a pity. Bernardoneaccio (Big Bad Bernie) loves offending people!

Come back for more insults and punishment soon, OK?

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Great songs in one language and another | My Five Romances June 24, 2013 - 2:30 pm

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