|James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano|
James Gandolfini was a wonderful actor, and I enjoyed his performances in several movies. But, to me, he will always be Tony Soprano. That show brought back some wonderful memories from my childhood growing up in New York. I don't mean the mafia aspects of the show, but rather the gestures, expressions, and slang words used by my Italian/American family and friends. They were virtually identical to those used by the show's characters. Even my children recognized them.
A few years ago, I made a post on this blog entitled N'Italian Lessons 101. It was the most popular post I ever made, getting thousands of views and more than a hundred comments. If you google it it should come up in the top three or for search results. The post listed a number of expressions used by my family and friends...and they were a wonderful part of my life. As a number of these were also used in the Sopranos show, I thought I would post them as a kind of tribute to James Gandolfini. Anyone who was a fan of that series will certainly remember some of them.
In the New York - New Jersey area in particular, many people of Italian-American descent have developed their own version of Italian slang, that I call N'Italian. Granted, some of the slang is a pretty brutal bastardization of la bella lingua, but, I grew up with them so they are near and dear to my heart. Some words and expressions have many variations in spelling. For example, the letters 'c' and 'g' are often used in place of one another. Some also have multiple meanings…so hand gestures, facial expression, and body language are often needed to make an accurate interpretation of context…these will be the subject of a future post. They also have their own English slang expressions...that too will be the subject of another post.
Here are a few samples of N'Italian:
gabagool. This is pronounced ga-ba-'gool. It's slang for cappicola, a highly seasoned type of ham that is a popular cold cut.
proshut. This is pronounced pro-'shoot. It's slang for prosciutto, a salt-cured type of ham eaten as a cold cut and used in Italian cooking.
madonna. Pronounced madonn' or mah-'dawn. The literal meaning is 'virgin mary' or 'mother of God,' but its slang meanings are "Oh no!" or "That's too bad" or "Holy shit!" A variation is the expression madonna mia. Sample usage:
Paulie: "Tony, I'm stuck in friggin' traffic, so I'm gonna' be late for the meetin'.
Oh yeah. And I forgot to pickup the gabagool and proshut."
Tony: "Madonn', what the hell else is gonna' go wrong today?"
ming. Pronounced ming'. Often used as a substitute for madonna.
goomah. Pronounced goo-'mah or coo-'mah. This means 'girlfriend,' but it must be used in the proper context. If you're single and have a girlfriend, she's your goomah. Your wife or fiance is NOT your goomah. If you're married or engaged, a goomah is someone you're seeing on the side.
"I tell him how to do it five times, and he still screws it up. Ming, what a friggin' stunad."
oobatz. Pronounced oo-'botz. It means 'crazy' or 'you're crazy.' Sample usage:
"Friggin' shyster sends me a bill for five grand. I call him up and say 'You think I'm gonna pay this? Oobatz.'"
stugats. Pronounced stew-'gotz. It means 'balls' or 'big balls' or 'you've got some balls.' In the Sopranos, Tony's boat is named Stugats.
fancul. Pronounced fon-'gool. It means to 'go f--- yourself' or 'f--- yourself up the a--.' Variations include va fancul and a fancul.
fanuk. Pronounced fa-'nuke or fi-'nuke. A guy who is gay. Think Vito in the last few episodes of the Sopranos.
Thank you James Gandolfini for bringing these to life for me. May you rest in peace.
More words like these, and characters like those in the Sopranos, can be found in my buddy J.D. Cannon's fast-moving suspense novel Just By Chance...rated 5 Stars on Amazon. Mobsters, a beautiful high-class escort, and a sexy tropical setting...what could be better than that?
Check it out...click on the cover image or here to learn more.
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Thanks this was a nice tribute ....I had to laugh at the glossary at the end. I was raised in an Italian neighborhood and all those words were very familiar to me too. When I'd watch The Sopranos I would hear them say something and it brought to mind a person in my life who I could hear saying the same thing....I too have been on a long hiatus of blogging here because of lots of things... I think it's time to start anew......
Thanks for the comment, Suz. I was raised in one too...and those words are straight out of my neighborhood.
What's mah-teh-dahtz?Marterdatz, ma-ter-dotz, matryrdotz?
I heard it growing up. I always figured it mant, "idiot" or "knuckle head". But my relatives never told me.
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