Monday, July 20, 2015

Market Talk: Exploring South Philly's Italian Dialect

Being half-Italian and a life-long South Philly resident, I found Emma Jacobs' piece at to be interesting and amusing.

If you walked through the streets of South Philadelphia’s Bella Vista neighborhood at the turn-of-the-20th-century, you’d probably smell sweet garlic frying, tomato simmering in onion and fat. You would overhear conversations all around you in what you might think was Italian, but were really in Sicilian, Neapolitan, or Calabrian–southern dialects almost as distinct as Italian is from Spanish. These immigrants went to shop on South 9th Street below Christian, still known as the Italian Market.
In the Market’s legacy shops today, one can find grocery store staples of modern Italy: the imported version of Nutella without the corn syrup sweetener, tiny bitter sodas called chinotto, fine pastas by Casale and La Fabbrica in the original Italian packaging, bags of elegant ladyfinger cookies, and glass jars of anchovies and Calabrian hot peppers. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of olive oils, infused with a range of ingredients from rosemary to truffles.
You won’t, however, overhear much Italian being spoken in line at shops like Talutto’s, Claudio’s, and Di Bruno Brothers. Instead, the remnant sounds of South Philly-Southern Italy immigrant days bubbling over the counter like the passwords to a secret club: “tublini,” “man-ih-gawt,” “galamad.” 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Note: You might also be interested in South Philly native Dom Irrera's video on "How to Talk South Philly Italian" via the below link:

No comments:

Post a Comment