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Endearments in Italian
Actors: Matt Damon and Monica Bellucci, Corlionis: Gino and Elisa
subluxate wrote in little_details
Just what the subject line says. I'm looking for endearments in Italian and how they translate in English, so I can try to fit them to scenes. I don't imagine all the ones in English translate well to Italian. Specifically:

1. What a woman might call her husband. The woman is from Milan and upper-class; the man is from Sicily, upper-class.

2. What a married man might call his steady, long-term mistress(es). One mistress is half-French, from Monaco; the others are Italian-American and largely first-generation. The man is the one in 1 (and yes, he's a bastard; his wife still loves him dearly).

3. What a mother might call her children, both young and older. I've got a few mothers; one has several adult children, and the others have kids varying in age from infant to teen. Mother A (adult children) is exasperated frequently with her oldest son, who is a main character; she's relatively uneducated and Sicilian. Mother B is the woman from 1, irritated with two of her sons when they fight (though she always sees the younger as her baby, even when he's grown), is highly protective of her daughter and loves her to pieces, and adores her oldest son. Mother C is the half-French one from 2, and her children are the center of her world; she spoils her son rotten and completely loves her daughter.

4. What a father might call his young children, particularly his favorite daughter. This is the man from 1. The daughter is headstrong, smart, and spoiled.

5. What a brother might call his sister from a young age on. These two are extremely close and always will be. The brother is highly intelligent; the sister is developmentally delayed. They're American-born, the children of the parents in 1, and the brother would use both English and Italian endearments. He's highly protective of and gentle with her throughout his life, even though he's an asshole to everyone else. The sister absolutely adores her brother, and he can do no wrong.

Most of these characters are bilingual; Mother A speaks only Italian, but the others speak English and Italian. The adult characters' native language is Italian, and they're more comfortable with those affectionate terms than English ones (particularly when the person they're speaking to is Italian-born). Classes are all from an American perspective, since most of the story takes place in the US.

Searched "Italian endearments"; found this post in and other general pages and forum posts, but as the linguaphiles post says, it depends on region and characters' personalities. Appending "brother", "sister", "wife", "husband", "child", and "mistress" got me largely general answers ("amore" and "tesorina", for instance) and, at one point, erotica. (The erotica was from "Italian endearments brother"; I didn't look beyond the Google snip.) I trust this community for more specifics, though. I'll probably also ask linguaphiles, but I always find this a good place to start.

I'll be gone for most of Wednesday on flights, but I'll reply to comments sometime Wednesday night.

The father might call a favorite daughter "piccola" -- and brother might call a younger sister that as well. (I know this from my own writing. I had a native speaker who was also fluent in English to help me. I don't know if a mother would use the term piccola for a daughter or piccolo for a son or not.)

Thank you. Piccola would work well.

My Italian is a little rusty, but "tesoro" works for 1.

Out of curiosity, is this for Quantum Leap fandom? Because the brother and sister in #5 make me think of Al and Trudy Calavicci.

Nope! I read this aloud to my partner (who loves QL), and she agreed that someone could see the similarities there. This is an original project.

For the woman to her husband 'caro' might work, or even 'amore' if you're looking for something simple and clear.

Like you said, 'tesoro' is quite popular for a parent to their kids.

I've also found that people enjoy using nicknames as endearments, so that might be useful. For example, I know someone with the last name 'Crepaldi' who's constantly called 'Crepes' by his wife. And a boy that's named 'Davide' is nicknamed 'Dade' by his younger sister.

Anyway, I'm out of ideas for now. >< Hope this helped.

"Dade" would actually work well with the siblings, so it helped quite a bit. The others were also helpful. Thank you.

I feel like I should be more helpful here, I eat dinner once a week with an Italian (as in Italy) but I can only remember that the mom calls, especially her son, something like "salame" or "salami." It's really cute. She says it like I would call a child "silly." Lovingly exasperated.

That's adorable. I may steal it.

The only thing I can think of is my cousin/her partner call their little boy 'Bebe' (like baby) even though he is now 8. He doesn't seem to mind, despite being a proper little hellraiser.

I can see the mothers doing that, especially B and C. Thank you.

I'm Northern Italian (Venetian actually, so I can't really give either the Milan or Sicily POVs... but I'll try), so here's the things I can get off the top of my head... and after waking up at 2 pm:

1) Tesoro, amore, caro. "Amore" being slightly more intimate/affectionate, but not that much in the context of a married couple.

2) Mmmh, pretty much the same? Maybe not "cara" which is the most wife-y term. Also - but it might work for the married couple as well - a more sugary version might be "pasticcina" (like "little cookie"), "amorino", "tesorino"... these are VERY fluffy.

3) Mother A - I'm not fluent in Sicilian (understatement), but the dialect "picciriddo" equals "piccolo" in standard Italian. Although I'm not sure that would be used for an adult son as well, maybe sarcastically?

Mother B - mmmh, tough one. It's not like there's a really specific term for what you're asking re: the fighting, as far as I know. The children she is fond of, she might call them "(il mio) bambino" for the son and "(la mia) bambina" for the daughter. That means "my child/my baby". "Amore" can work here, too.

Mother C - same as B, but I can't really help you with the French bits.

4) Again, "amore" can do. Also "gioia" I think is fitting.

5) "sorellina". Lol, I know I'm not giving a lot of variations to choose from, but in my experience, we've never used much terms of endearment in my family or circle of acquaintances, except some completely made up ones that wouldn't make sense to anyone else :-D

Feel free to ask more :-)

This is all really helpful, thank you. When I can think straight (on planes and in airports all Wednesday, slept Thursday and woke up sick), I might have more questions for you. Thank you again.

I think you have enough for italian's mothers... about the half-french one, she could call they children "mes trésors / mon trésor", which sound like "my precious ones/one"


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