An ode to a donkey

  I am in love with the humble Sicilian donkey which once were something of a status symbol in the agricultural based Sicilian culture of last century. These animals are no longer seen much around the island as they are mainly kept by hobby farmers and those with a passion for animals. I was absolutely…

Sicilian saying of the day: gossiping

A pirnici canta tri voti io iornu e sempri a danno so The partridge sings three times a day and always to his own disadvantage. Another beautiful natural image, this time of a wild bird widely hunted throughout Sicily and seen as a metaphor for the unattractive habit of malicious human gossip. Any suggestions for…

Sicilian saying of the day: the humble jackass

  U sceccu porta sempri u barduni A donkey always carries the load. Yet another folk saying to do with the humble donkey, a symbol of hard work and stubbornness. Simply put, a jackass will always be an ass. Hummmm, a leopard doesn’t change its spots, simply doesn’t have the same directness does it!?!? For…

Sicilian saying of the day: Bad habits

  U sceccu chi si mancia a fichera u viziu si lu lava quannu mori. The donkey who eats figs is only rid of the habit when he dies. The humble donkey used to be the work animal of choice in Sicily, able to carry heavy loads and negotiate the mountain terrain common on the…

Sicilian saying of the day: Learning

  U lignu si torci quannu e’ virdi   Literally the wood is moulded when it is green. Sicilian wisdom is practical, true and often uses metaphors from the natural world. This phrase is symbolic of the islands basic ‘folk wisdom.’ In fact habits and character are best moulded in youth.    

Tongue tied in Italy

It is always a challenge for non native speakers of any language to learn and assimilate into a new country but Italy has its own particular surprises reserved for struggling expats.    Before moving to Italy permanently I thought I was quite savvy with my Italian. After all I had almost majored in Italian, lived…

Sicilian word of the day: Scirocco

    The scirocco is an infernal African air current from the desert who whips up the heat in the Mediterranean to unbearable levels during the summer . If this hot wind is still the day is pleasant but if it is on the prowl it makes the air too hot to breathe. Someone who…

Sicilian’s flare for uttering profanities

When I was a child I had an Uncle who was terribly capricious, a real joker (he still is until this day) and he took great pleasure in teaching my brother and I all the colourful Italian swear words possible.  My Uncle thought it was all terribly funny and hoped we’d use them in front…

Picking up a Sicilian vocabulary

Lately I’ve noticed a new development with my language skills. I think I’m going native. Many missionaries from past centuries wrote of how after years of living with a foreign culture and language they have felt like a constant outsider until the day when they realise their tongue has somehow assimilate elements of the local…