Monday, February 25, 2019

Bergamo – Street Sign Language Lesson XXVI

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It's been over six months since we posted something in this series. Are we slowing down in our observations? Are we getting jaded to the signs we see? Time will tell. In the meantime, here are a batch of eight new signs. Of course, each post in the series wouldn't be complete without a mention of a lost cat or dog excrement, and in this respect we don't disappoint here because we have both. Happy language learning!

Use of AFFITTANSI.Use of CERCANSI in L'Eco di Bergamo February 26, 2019 edition.Sorrowful sign: closed due to death.Yet another lost cat.
Left: Use of AFFITTANSI.  Center left: Use of CERCANSI in L'Eco di Bergamo February 26, 2019 edition. Center right: Sorrowful sign: closed due to death. Right: Yet another lost cat.

Affittansi uffici varie metrature – Offices for rent of varying square footage.

What captured our eye in this sign is the rarely seen form of affittansi. Most signs advertising something for rent use affittasi. (Even Microsoft Word spell corrector in Italian wants to correct affittansi to affittasi.)

The question is dealt with thoroughly (in Italian) by the erudite Accademia della Crusca. When multiple things are for rent, you should use the plural form affittansi, and when one thing is for rent, you should use the singular form affittasi. However, the singular form is commonly used even for the plural case. Affittasi is a enclitic form of the phrase si affitta, which means for rent. Si affitta is third-personal singular, present tense of affittare. It follows that when many things are for rent you can use si affittano or the enclitic form affittansi with a drop of the letter O.

The same concept applies to the verbs vendere (vendesi, vendonsi) and cercare (cercasi - example, cercansi - see image above).

Chiuso per lutto – Closed due to funeral – or – Closed due to bereavement.

The full implicit phrase in Italian is Chiuso per lutto in famiglia. This sign was on a bar in our borgo. RIP.

Smarrito – maschio castrato, scomparso in Città Alta, Lillo, gatto simil Siamese adulto – Lost, castrated male in Città Alta, Lillo, cat similar to adult Siamese

We don’t see many cats in Bergamo. Maybe because they are all lost? Think we are kidding? Other examples: Lesson XXIV, Lesson XXIII, and Lesson XIV. We don’t seem to see many lost dog posters.

We were struck by the phrase gatto simil Siamese adulto. We know it’s the word simile or “resembling” but never saw it before with the dropped E. It’s perfectly legal and called an apocopation or truncation as we explained in a previous post.

Come home Lillo!

Note on the subject of gigantic dog doo-doo.Private property destroyed by an anti-vaxxer and with bad spelling.A holly bush that suffers from unwanted pruning.
Left: Note on the subject of gigantic dog doo-doo. Center: Private property destroyed by an anti-vaxxer and with bad spelling. Right: A holly bush that suffers from unwanted pruning.

Il proprietario del cane che lascia regolarmente la cacca gigantesca del suo animale è invitato a raccoglierla – The dog owner that regularly leaves his pet’s huge crap in the street is encouraged to pick it up.

I know we talk about dog crap a lot in our Street Sign Language Lesson series, but these types of signs are really some of the most colorful, and not in the brown sense. Despite, or because of, signs like this from concerned citizens, Bergamo is a clean city.

A month ago or so, there was a period of a few weeks when really large (and we mean large) dog doo-doo was appearing on sidewalks of via San Tomaso. Bizarrely large but with no culprit ever seen. It was puzzling. When we saw this sign, we knew that at least we weren’t the only ones who thought it odd. Then it all stopped, and we never saw any more gigantesche.

When we saw the phrase la caca gigantesca we knew this sign had to be discussed.

No ai vacconi! – No to big fat cows! (Presumably supposed to be: No to vaccinations!)

Anti-vaccination sentiment is plain silly and doesn’t respect scientific evidence, and in this case, spelling rules. The graffiti should read No ai vaccini! but was written missing the first letter I and someone thoughtfully came along and filled in the letter O to create No ai vacconi! Vacconi isn’t a word but could almost be taking the word for cow vacca and the augmentative (in Italian accrescitivo) ending -one.

Here is the sign before the addition of the letter O.

Per favore non tagliarmi i rametti, soffro e faccio fatica a ricrescere, grazie – Please don’t cut my branches, I suffer and struggle to regrow, thanks.

When we first read this sign on our way up to San Vigilio (on Via San Vigilio), we thought it was the owner “talking” but then the verbs conjugated in the first-person present tense didn’t make sense. Why would the owner suffer? Maybe figuratively we tried to ration.

Doh, then we realized we had missed the possessive mi hanging on the verb tagliere which means the bush is talking. Now the conjugations make sense. The bush suffers and struggles to regrow.
Never did a variegated holly (Ilex aquifolium) speak so eloquently against random pruning. We can’t help but wonder who walks on via San Vigilio with clippers in hand. Holly branches are not easy to cut without the right tools.

Condo intrigue...I'll take care of the bins. Bulky luggage - a new kind of PC lingo for oversize luggage?
Left: Condo intrigue...I'll take care of the bins. Right: Bulky luggage - a new kind of PC lingo for oversize luggage?

Gentillissimi condomini, l’impresa di pulizie e pagata anche per pulire i bidoni non dovete più portarli dentro ci penso io così li lavo grazie – Dear condo owners, the cleaning services is also paid to clean the bins. You don’t have to bring them inside. I’ll take care of that and therefore I can wash them, thanks.

This sign was in our condominium, which we lovingly refer to as our palazzo. Our palazzo’s intrigue and gossip never rises above who put trash in the compost bin (example) or if the big door (il portone) was shut on time (every evening at 8 pm). And this is fine by us palazzo-dwellers as we live together in peace.

But then the guy who comes to clean the condominium palazzo common spaces wrote this note. Oh, goody we thought something salacious. Alas, no. In the note, he asks politely that when the bins (compost, glass/metal, or paper) are put out for collection that they not be brought back in before he has a chance to clean them. Banal!

The sentence has a misspelling (should be gentilissimi with one L) and is missing the grave accent mark on the verb essere: è pagata. Besides that, the note is particularly hard to parse because of several ideas run together with no punctuation. Ci penso io is an idiomatic way of saying “I’ll take care of it.”

Ritiro bagagli fuori misura – Bulky luggage claim.

This sign is at the Orio al Serio International Airport in Bergamo. Interestingly, the official name of the airport is Il Caravaggio International Airport, after the painter "Il Caravaggio" (real name: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio), who lived as a child at Caravaggio in the Province of Bergamo. Caravaggio was famous for his dramatic use of strong contrasts between light and dark, called chiaroscuro.

The name Orio al Serio is borrowed from the nearby town of the same name. The first part of the town’s name Orio has several possible etymologies discussed on the city’s comune site. The Serio part is easy, because the Serio river is just located to the west.

Perhaps a slightly better translation would have been “oversize luggage claim”.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I'm a journalist doing a story on Jure Sanguinis and wondering if you might be willing to chat about it? If so email me a Many thanks!


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