From "pacchero" to "pazziare": Greek in Neapolitan

by Francesco Li Volti

The Greek is one of the many languages that gave birth to the current Neapolitan, together with the French, at the Spanish, atAustrian and toArabic.

The Greek civilization has undeniably influenced the evolution of the Neapolitan language. As we all know, Naples was founded by Cumans in the seventh century BC and one remains polis Greek until 326 BC.
Eleven centuries of a Greek civilization that has embellished the way of life of the Neapolitans, in the uses and customs, up to the spoken word. In Naples, which was the largest and most important city in the Magna Grecia, ancient Doric was spoken, then dismantled over time by Rome, with its "spoken Latin" of soldiers, traders, settlers, administrators and prominent personalities.

But the Greek has come down to the present day, through terms that we would consider unthinkable, because of common use. In fact, there are not a few words that we have drawn up to date: pacchero, crazy, ciofeca, vasinicola, crisommola, purtuallo, caccavella, centrella, franfellicchio, ‘nzallanuto, zelluso but also puteca and the ways of saying "papele papele" And "take it for“.

List of words deriving from the Greek

Caccavella: from caccabos κακκαβος (small container), indicates a small container. It is used to ironize the shape, sometimes disproportionate, for the actual use to which the object must be subjected.

Càntero: from cantaros κάνθαρος (cup to drink), is used to indicate a typical chamber pot, reminiscent of the shape of the cup from which the ancient Greeks drank.

Ciofeca: from cofos κωφός (harsh, deaf), our Greek ancestors used the term κωφός to indicate something that tasted bad. Just like today.

Crisommola: from crusomelon χρυσόμηλον (golden apple), refers to apricot. Probably when the Greeks saw apricots hanging from the branches, they mistook them for gold-colored fruits. As indeed is our Vesuvian apricot.

Franfellicchio: from pompolux πoμπoλὗχ (air bubbles), this term is the basis of the fanfreluche French and means the sugars and the particular sugar sweets typical of Naples.

'Nzallanuto: from selè norση νη (moon) or zalaino - ζαlαἰνo (fool), it is used when you want to highlight a person particularly in the clouds, very distracted.

Pacchero: from pas cheri πάσ χερἰ (the whole hand), is the slap, the slap given, in fact, with the whole hand.

Go crazy: from paizein - Παίζεἰν o paizo - Παίζω (to play), means to play also in Neapolitan.

Take it for: from even though πὗρ (fire), comes from the Greek "pur" which means fire. Probably to Neapolitanize it, it was changed to "for" which recalls the word foot. But foot has nothing to do with it. The Greek language has something to do with it.

Nevertheless: from portokàloς - πορτοκάλoσ (orange), is one of the most used words in Naples deriving from the Greek. Who has never heard the market say: "Accattateve e'purtuall '!"

Puteca: from ApotekaTOπoθήkη (negozio, ripostiglio), è un termine molto in uso ancora nel greco moderno. A Napoli sta a indicare un negozio o una bottega.

Vasinicola: from vasinikola –  βασιλικός (basil), in ancient Neapolitan the vasinicola meant what basil was for the Greeks. In Greek it means "thing worthy of a king" and refers to the smell and taste of the plant.

Zelluso: from psilos - ψιλός (bald) is a person who has lost all hair, bald.

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