Shortening Italian names

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  • #3320

    L.P.
    Member

    I’ve often heard adults with Italian names called by their title and surname initial (for example, Mrs. Giordano becomes ‘Mrs. G’). A friend was speculating that non-Italians do this rather than learn to pronounce the names correctly. But I’ve heard it used in an affectionate, respectful way among Italian-Americans; in movies and TV shows written by Italian-Americans; and in cities where the non-Italians are familiar with Italian names. So now we’re wondering if this may actually be a custom that originated in Italian-American communities, or even in Italy. I’ve searched the web with no luck; does anyone have a clue?

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    Name : L.P., City : Eugene, State : OR Country : United States, 
    #24823

    12-23-01 It’s a bit of both, and more of an American/Italian thing. In Italy, people are more formal with names. Italians in America, however, began to pick up on the informality of American culture (ie., its lack of pretention and muted class structures). The same is true of nicknames, which goes back to classical Roman times. Italians give people ‘pet’ names, usually picking out a distinguishing trait (e.g, Jimmy ‘Skyscraper’ Borelli, for a tall person). Unfortunately, this charming practice has been stigmatized by the American media, which equates it with criminals of Italian/American background. (Note: Many of the nicknames given to Italian thugs were penned by members of the media!!) Also, Italians always refer to each other as cugini (cousins), whether or not they are. It usually turns out that they ARE related in some way down the line!

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    Name : B. Dal Cerro, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Mediterranean, Religion : Catholic, Age : 36, City : Chicago, State : IL Country : United States, Occupation : Teacher, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #28687

    Barb
    Member

    Mrs. Cunningham on ‘Happy Days’ was always referred to as Mrs. C. I had a homeroom teacher in sixth grade whose name I can’t quite remember, but it was not Italian, and we called her Mrs. C, too. I think it’s more a trend with anyone with long or hard-to-pronounce names, and it just happens that a lot of Italian names are long or hard to pronounce. And it could also just be motivated by that affectionate respect – it’s a nickname of sorts, which conveys affection and closeness, but isn’t so presumptuous as using the person’s first name.

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    Name : Barb, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 46, City : Reading, State : PA Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
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