Just recently I've become aware of the word "mopeen" which is Italian slang for "dishtowel" and is derived from "moppina" (mop). I was surprised that I had never heard this word used in my Italian-American family. I thought I had heard and used just about every Italian slang word that has made it's way across the ocean so I'm curious as to just how many of you use a "mopeen".
Posts: 2118 | Location: Laguna Beach, CA | Registered: 09 February 2006
I made a short reserach. Mappina is a word used in the Siclian, Claabrese and Beneventano dialects for dishtowel, and it has no connection to the mop. probably that connection has been made over the other side of the Ocean, but indeed this is a very old word, dating since before the emigration to the US.
Many Italian American "slang" words are based on dialect. The first Italians into USA (1870-1910) came from an Italy that was still highly regionalized with discrete, separate (but similar) languages. Italy was not unified until the 1860s and in reality until WW1. Therefore these immigrants considered themselves e.g. Calabrese, Abruzzese, Toscane as well as Italian (and maybe more-so). Many Italian American words would not be understood in Italy (using contemporary Italian) and what you learned growing up as Italian (Neapolitano) may not be the same as what I learned (Abruzzese). Here's an example of Abruzzo dialect, note it is familiar but different:
Quanno ju picculu parla, ju rossu a` parlato!
When a child speaks, the adult has spoken!
Posts: 924 | Location: Palmyra, NJ, USA | Registered: 29 July 2003
It must be also noticed that many Italian-American words are also italianizations of English words for objects or concepts that did not exist when the emigrants moved, or that they did not know of. Consider that most migrants came from rural areas and landed in urban areas, where life was totally different even ta that time, and since then there ahs been a huge evoltuiion in technology and way of life. once I read the use of the word "sinko" somewhere in the US for sink: families who came from tiny farms with no inbult bathrooms or toilets had probably only occasionally seen a sink and didn't know that the contraption in Italian is called "lavandino" or "lavabo" (which were present only in the homes of the top middle and rich classes). Therefore they adapted the english word by adding an "o" at the end.
Doing transcripts of Calabrian immigrants, I remember one fellow who had lived in the Italian emigrant "colonie" "Buenosairu" and "Brocolino" before moving to Montereale.
Of course he meant Buenos Aires and Brooklyn, places with huge Italian emigrant communities.
Here there are many Italianised French and English words. Trying hard to place rossu, have found this (ancora calabrese): Rossu: (a): grosso, grasso, importante; riferito a donna anche incinta, in stato di gravidanza. Si u rossu mangia pocu, u minutu crepa i fami: tempo di grave carestia: se il grassone ha poco da mangiare, il segaligno... non trova nulla; la carestia sarebbe in proporzione alle necessità di nutrimento.
Posts: 934 | Location: Montréal | Registered: 29 January 2006
Originally posted by LoveItaly: Just recently I've become aware of the word "mopeen" which is Italian slang for "dishtowel" and is derived from "moppina" (mop). I was surprised that I had never heard this word used in my Italian-American family. I thought I had heard and used just about every Italian slang word that has made it's way across the ocean so I'm curious as to just how many of you use a "mopeen".
Posts: 8 | Location: Steubenville | Registered: 09 October 2006
A friend of mine told me that he had no schooling in standard italian until after world war II - two years before he came to the US. Needless to say, his family arrived speaking only dialect, and using the dialect only within the italian immigrant community, where it became divorced from the italian - dialectic and standard - evolving in Italy. To this day, when I hear older Italians speaking in a dialect that came here 50 years ago, it doesn't resemble what I am learning in the US(standard), or what I hear when I travel within italy (standard with dialect)
Posts: 324 | Location: Delray Beach, Florida (Paradise) | Registered: 24 August 2005
I was born in Naples, and my mother's side of the family is from There, and I always hear/heard that word, Mappina, yes, it means rag, "straccio per lavare a terra" rag to clean the floor with, but it is used also in an extreemely derogatory way to indicate somebody that has no will f his own, like a floor rag that is driven everywere. Or yelled out as " Tu si na mappinaa" meaning that -ME- was a smart a**, the one that would drive mom crazy.
Anyone interested in the derivation and usage of the word mopeen should check out a book by my stepmother Joanna Clapps Herman called "Our Roots Are Deep With Passion". You can get it on Amazon. It's a collection of essays by Italian American writers. Joanna has a piece in there all about the word mopeen and the uses of the object in her family. It's wonderful. She says it's a very ancient word that is derived from the Italian word for map because maps used to be drawn on linen....