Naples is a city with an intense and tumultuous history, always a country of crossroads of several cultures, as well as the subject of various domination by foreign conquerors. All these dynamics have greatly influenced the formation of its dialect, fruit of the footprints that have crossed Naples over the centuries.
Naples was founded by the ancient Greeks in the sixth century A.C. And the Greek is a matrix that is still found today in many terms of the Neapolitan dialect. Pazziare, for example, which in Italian means to play, comes from the greek “pàizein”. And paccaro, which means slap, comes from the greek “pasa cheir”.
Deep was then the influence of Latin (in 326 B.C. the city became a Roman colony of the Empire), the language spoken by the Neapolitans until about 1200. From the Latin word “intras acta”, for example, it derives the Neapolitan word ‘ntrasatta (sudden). And it is in the thirteenth century that the Neapolitan dialect (as well as others of the Italian peninsula) begins to take shape. The successive rulers have done the rest. Ajére, which means yesterday, comes from the Spanish “ayer”. Canzo, which means time (in Naples say damme ‘or canzo, that give me time), it comes from the French “chance.” The word tamarro (lout), derives from the Arabic “al-tamar” (merchant of dates). Of English origin is then nipple (wool ball): derived from “nipple”.
Neapolitan in the world
In its various variations, the Neapolitan is spoken in a large part of south Italy: Campania especially, but also Abruzzo, southern Lazio, Molise, northern Puglia and Calabria. But how many people speak the Neapolitan? The estimates say that reach a population of about 11 million of Italians. This figure, which already puts the Neapolitan in seat number 77 of the most spoken languages in the world (before idioms such as Swedish, the Bulgarian and Czech), does not take account of migrants around the world: Canada, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, France and Portugal. Many Neapolitans terms became international, known in every corner of the inhabited earth; and this is due, above all, the classic Neapolitan song. VIDEO! Nowadays Neapolitan’s songs (or neo-melodic) represent a controversial and unique example where mafia, entertainment and pop culture coexist gaining a lot of success among the youth of South Italy and beyond. VIDEO! This music genre has been popularized worldwide firstly by Caruso and now by Gomorra the Italian TV series inspired by the abovementioned Saviano’s novel about Camorra criminal activities in Naples. VIDEO!
‘O barbiere te fa bello, ‘o vine te fa guappo e ‘a femmena te fa fesso
The barber makes you beautiful, the wine gives you the courage and the woman ensnares you