13 January 2007

Some Unusual Italian Words

This page was written mostly by Alessandro Maccari and Michele Comerci, with contributions by Barbara Horsley, PierGiorgio Cavallini, Ralph Anzarouth, and Philip Bennett.

AIUOLE, which is the plural of aiuola (flower bed), is the shortest word with all five vowels. Some long words with all 5 vowels are CONTRAPPUNTISTE (contrapuntists) and AUTORIPARAZIONE.

EUFORIA (euphoria) is a short word with five vowels. MYCOBACTERIUM (mycobacterium) is a short word with the six vowels with no repeats.

AUTORIMESSA (garage) has the five vowels in reverse order.

The longest word with no letter repeating is FUNAMBOLESCHI (about funambolists).

INDIVISIBILI (unsplittable) has 6 I's and no other vowels. INDIVISIBILISSIMI (very unsplittable) has 8 I's and no other vowels.

EFFERVESCENTEMENTE (sparklingly) has 7 E's. PRECEDENTEMENTE (precedingly) and ECCELLENTEMENTE (excellently) have 6 E's.

CALAFATATA (caulked) has 5 A's. Other words with 5 A's are ASSATANATA (possessed by the devil), ACCAVALLATA (crossed), SANTABARBARA (powder-magazine), and ACCALAPPIACANI (dog hunters).

The word with the most O's is CONTROPROPONGONO (they counter-propose).

The word with the most U's is CUSCUSSU' or URUBU' (cous-cous and a kind of condor), but HUMULUS LUPPULUS is the Latin scientific name of a plant.

PRECIPITEVOLISSIMEVOLMENTE (as fast as you can) is a word created in 1677 and is traditionally considered the longest word in Italian. Michele Comerci describes it as "quite artificial" but writes that after more than three centuries it's hard to say that is wrong.

SOVRAMAGNIFICENTISSIMAMENTE (in a very very very magnificent way, 27 letters) was used by Dante in "De vulgari eloquentia" in the 14th century but is unknown now.

Chemical names and numbers can be even longer words. In Italian, 444,444 is quattrocentoquarantaquattromilaquattrocentoquarantaquattro and has 58 letters).

ANTICOSTITUZIONALMENTE (anticonstitutionally) is desribed as the longest Italian word in common use.

Other long words:

22 letters: ELETTROENCEFALOGRAFICO, OTORINOLARINGOIATRICHE (about the diseases of ear, nose and throat), INTERNAZIONALIZZAZIONE (internationalization).

23 letters: ELETTROENCEFALOGRAFICHE (-grafico is male-singular, -grafiche is female-plural)

24 letters: INTERNAZIONALIZZEREBBERO (they would internationalize)

26 letters: CONTRORIVOLUZIONARIAMENTE (in counter-revolutionary way) ANTICOSTITUZIONALISSIMAMENTE (very anticostitutionally) has 28 letters but sounds "artificial" (but it's formally correct).

DESALINIFICATO (desalinized) has a succession of seven consonant-vowel groups as does VASODILATATORE (blood-vessel-delater).

The last words in the dictionary are ZWINGLISTA (a follower of Zwingli), ZZZ (sound of sleeping or sound made by the mosquito fly, or sound made by a saw, and ZUZZURULLONE (or ZUZZURELLONE) (playful person).

SOQQUADRO (terrible mess) is sometimes considered the only word with a double Q, although dictionaries have ZIQQURAT (another way to write Ziggurat).

PALLETTIZZASSE (if he put on pallets) has four double letters.

Some words with three double letters include ATTACCAPANNI (hatstand), PASTA CAPPELLETTI (a kind of pasta), ARROCCHETTATO, ATTACCHEREBBE (he would attack), PASSEGGIASSE (if he walks), ACCATTONAGGIO (begging).

SCIOCCHEZZA (silliness, or a silly thing) has only 3 syllables and 11 letters.

The palindrome ONORARONO (they honoured) has 9 letters. ANILINA (aniline) and INGEGNI (ingenuities) have 7 letters.

CUOIAIO (leather craftsman) has 6 vowels in a row).

GHIACCIO (ice) has 8 letters and only two syllables. Some other such words are CHIOSTRO (cloister), CHIOCCIA (brooding hen), SCIOCCHI (dumb, plural-m), SCIOCCHE (dumb, plural-f), SCHIANTO (shock), and STRONCHI (like "you revile" or "you criticize").

SCHIOCCHI (snaps) has 9 letters and two syllables. Some other such words are the surname CHIOCCHIO (spread mostly in the south), SGHIACCIO (I unfreeze), SGHIACCIA (he/she/it unfreezes), SCHIACCIO (I squeeze), and SCHIACCIA (he/she/it squeezes).

There are 5 A's in AGAMMAGLOBULINAEMIA (blood disorder). There are 5 C's in APPICCICATICCIO (sticky). There are 5 O's in SOTTOPRODOTTO (waste product). There are 3 U's in URUGUAI (Uruguay).

The following sentence consists almost exclusively of vowels in the dialect of La Spezia (spezzino): "Aiei i ea eio aoa i e eio e aigoa" (Yesterday it was oil now it is oil and water). Mark Brader suggests improving this sentence by adding a conjunction: "Aiei i ea eio e aoa i e eio e aigoa" (Yesterday it was oil and now it is oil and water)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I si posem algo nou? ;-) Es que quan m'avorreixo a la feina miro el teu blog per entretenir-me un rato i fa temps que em quedo mirant els "unusual italian words"... je, je, je.