1101-391 Language and Identity.

Joseph Internicola October 26, 2018

Portrait Of A Word

“Bellissimo” my grandmother shouted from across the room “Bellissimo, Very beautiful” as my mother showed me off my brand new suit to my family. I was seven years old at the time and didn’t really have a decent attention span at the time so first I didn’t really care to know what it ment but I knew to thank her and so I did. But there was something about that word that just rolled off my tongue “Bellissimo” I kept saying throughout the day and finally had the bright idea to ask my grandmother what it ment. She sat me down and said “It means beautiful, well actually very beautiful in Italian”. She then told me stories of anything and everything that she could about my Italian heritage from family members I never met that still lived in Italy to how you should always embrace your Italian culture and from that point on I always was fascinated and proud to say I am Italian. But all I knew after that conversation is that was obsessed with it from watching mobster movies to learning to make chicken parmesan with my aunt to learn curse words. But looking back it’s really amazing how in touch I became with my Italian culture just because of one word.

Just like the english language I know that a word like Bellissimo probably originated from much smaller yet possibly more infromated words. so to further incorporate myself into my culture I wanted to see where the word Bellissimo came from and according to Emanuele Viscuso “Bellissimo is a superlative. The adjective is “bello” (or “bella” for feminine words). The superlative is “bellissimo” (or “bellissima” for feminine words). In English we make superlatives adding the adverb “very”. Beautiful is the adjective and “very beautiful” is the superlative. In Italian is also possible to add the adverb “molto” for the superlative form (molto=very) . So there are two forms for the superlative in Italian: adding “molto” (very), or adding the desinence “issimo” to the end of the adjective.” This quote is explaining the transition the Italian word goes through when being converted into english and as you can see like many European languages they are pronounced different for women and men with having different adjectives depending if the person you are calling or refering to is considered male or female. Also what I ended up learning from this quote is that when it is translated to english it “very beautiful” by adding a superlative to it. I learned these thing at a very young age and it has allowed me to use these skills and apply them to other words. With that being said I think that it’s crazy having one word teach you a lot about things that you had no idea about.

Connecting with my routs and discovering the ways my family acts and speaks would have a big impact on anyone who spends a lot of time with their family. And as you can see my family is very close to me and are definitely the number one most important thing in my life. Recently my family has been going through a lot and we are using each other for comfort to help get us through this tough time. My grandmother, the one who said bellissimo to me when I was younger had a very near death experience and is currently in a coma attempting to recover. It is times like these where the value of family really shines and you understand the importance of it. Having someone they you are literally related through blood go through the same exact emotions you go through and slowly but surely regain your composure and get through tough times together is very heartwarming thing because for the moments you understand that no matter what you will always have someone. Family is like this unexplained love you have for someone that can only be express over a lifetime of happiness and hatred and to say at the end of the day I love you to that you love them.

The word Bellissimo to me is like the word love to others it’s moving, meaningful and special. This word did not only embark me on a journey to learn more about my culture and make me proud of who I am but it also helped me get closer with my family. Me wanting to learn so many things about why I talk like this or, what does this word mean, or what was that luke was most definitely annoying during the time but not for one second do I regret it because that was me spending time with my loved ones and getting to know them and their stories in life. Hopefully my grandmother gets better so I can share many more moments like this with her but if things don’t turn out for the better I will always cherish those moments that I spent with her and this incident has allowed me to be more grateful with the interactions I have my my family because one day you won’t have them anymore. I guess what i’m trying to say is Family is very special you only have one and will always have one so spend time with them, accept them, and love them because you are as important to them as they are to you.