Three Little Latinates
Michael Ubaldi, February 7, 2007.
John Derbyshire's son Danny, entering middle school this fall, may at his advanced level enroll in a foreign language course and has Spanish, French and Italian from which to choose. I began in sixth grade, too; and took French. Eighteen years ago, things Gallic were regarded by teenagers as intended for girls and the epicene, and I doubt that such a stigma has since gone.
John made the suggestion of Italian; a good one. My grandfather, who ran a butcher shop on Jones Street, in Greenwich Village, emigrated from Bevagna in 1918; my grandmother, first-generation American of a Neapolitan family, learned Italian along the way. Their eldest child, however, was averse to lessons — so neither she nor her siblings, my uncle and my father, ever learned. My father, ever the raconteur, did, however, pick up a little of the vernacular from Grandpa: a few apothegms and one tongue-twister.
Apelle, figlio di Apollo
Here Apelle, son of Apollo, makes balls of chicken skin, attracting nearby fish who come to see him work. My father added his own touch. Asked What does it mean? he smiles and says, All right for you, Yank.
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