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My Name in Italian

June 6, 2020

Cari Amici,

 

How can I make a name for myself in Italy if no one can pronounce my name? Yesterday at the dentist, the receptionist just sighed and asked for my health card so she could look at the jumble of letters without having to figure it out from the odd way I say it. 

 

Both my name and surname begin and end with consonants, which is inelegant and un-Italian. And that's just the tip of the pronunciation problem iceberg. Craig (Scottish, from crag, n., a steep or rugged cliff or rock face) starts with a fricative, a hard CItalian, though crisply articulated, is a soft language; naturally they soften the C to G for me. Then they roll the r, of course (nice; so do Scots–and me Geordie cousins). Next comes ai, which in Italian is pronounced as in the word eye. And then an unfortunate hard g at the end. In la bella lingua pretty much every word ends in a vowel. If not, add one anyway, to keep the musicality. So Craig is pronounced Gr-EYE-geh.

 

As to Jaster (a German name, fyi), the letter j is in the Italian alphabet, but seldom used, and always as a vowel, pronounced y. in Italian the j sound it is spelled gia. So Jas does not rhyme with ass, but becomes Yahs. The t–no changes there; but e is always pronounced somewhere between eh and ay in Italian, and as you don't want to end a word with a consonant, even a soft one like r, just add a little extra eh at the end and, così, Jaster becomes YAHS-tair-eh. Giastre would be a closer approximation (and is is an actual Italian cognome  or last name).

 

So when gigs return (people are saying September at the earliest), I could identify as Gregorio Giastre. Or what about Rinaldo, the Italian version of my middle name Reynolds (the English artist Sir Joshua Reynolds is a very distant relation) and join the prestigious Single Name Artist Club (Moby, Usher, Prince, Sting, Morrissey, let's not forget Liberace, etc...). Pretty suave. But Rinaldo is also SO Italian, and I am clearly not. I suppose misunderstandings and accusations of cultural appropriation would follow. So what are ya gonna do? Non ne vale la pena (it's not worth it.)

 

Abbracci,

 

Gr-EYE-geh YAHS-tair-eh

 

 

 

 

 

 

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