A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

literature
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

CONTEXTUALLY YOURS (article first published : 2004-03-4)

Just for amusement’s sake, consider the following explanations of words and their derivations. If you think they are wrong, give the correct meaning and derivation of each one.

MARIPOSA – the Spanish equivalent of the French “Mon Repos” – my resting place – sometimes used as the name of a house.

TIRAMISU – A Japanese admiral of the 11th Century A D, credited with publishing the first navigators’ map of the world.

GILLAROO – an Australian term meaning a junior female employee on a cattle- or sheep-station (Feminine form of “jackaroo”, an aboriginal word, like “kangaroo”).

PAPARAZZO (pl paparazzi) – the invented name of a newspaper photographer in the film “La Dolce Vita”, now used to describe all intrusive “tabloid” journalists. Suggested by English “paper”.

As you doubtless guessed, they are all wrong.

“Mariposa” is indeed Spanish, but it means “butterfly”. I have seen it used as a house-name, and it is also the name of a Californian town not far from Yosemite National Park.

“Tiramisu” is “a dessert made with pieces of sponge soaked in coffee and Marsala, layered with mascarpone and chocolate.” (It’s tempting to suggest that mascarpone is the name of a Sicilian gangster responsible for the St Valentine’s Day massacre, but it’s actually the name of a soft Italian cream cheese.) The term “tiramisu” is not Japanese but Italian; as far as I can ascertain, it means “Pull me up.”

There is a feminine form of “jackaroo”, but it’s spelt, logically enough, “jillaroo”. However, the word “gillaroo” does exist: it is the name of an Irish trout, and is a form of the Irish “giolla ruadh” – “red lad”.

“Paparazzo” has indeed entered the English language with the meaning given above. The error is that the name was not invented and has no connection with paper. There was a real Signor Paparazzo, as we shall see.

George Gissing (1857 – 1903) was a pretty prolific writer despite his short life-span. He published his first novel in 1880, and from 1884 onwards he turned out a new title every year or so. In 1901 he published his 23rd book, an account of a (fairly hazardous) visit to southern Italy entitled By the Ionian Sea. A new edition of this work has just been published in England by Signal Books, and has been handsomely reviewed in The Spectator. The reviewer writes: “In the gloomy city of Catanzaro…Gissing stays in a hotel run by as a certain Signor Paparazzo. Years later, Federico Fellini noted the name in an Italian edition of Gissing’s book, and decided to use it for his aggressive photographer in La Dolce Vita. Gissing is thus indirectly associated with tabloid intrusiveness. He would not have been amused.”

Probably not – who would be?

I acknowledge with gratitude the help of The Spectator and, as always, The Chambers Dictionary.

Contextually Yours, Ulysses Online.




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart