Lost in Translation

22 09 2009

Ever wonder how different pastas got their names?  Their shape, of course.

Here is a list of pastas.  If you are a foodie, as am I, you will recognize the literal nature of each name.

Cannelloni: Large Reeds

Cappellini: Little Hats

Farfalle: Butterflies

Fettuccine: Small Ribbons

Linguine: Little Tongues

Manicotti: Little Muffs

Orecchiette: Little Ears

Penne: Quills

Ravioli: Little Turnips

Rotelli: Little Wheels

Spaghetti: Little Strings

Tortellini: Little Twists

Vermicelli: Little Worms (my personal favorite)

Dogs, by the way, came up with this first.  What subject in any dogs vocabulary is not directly based on the visual?  In English it’s squirrel; in Italian it’s scoiattolo.

Dogs call it like it is: scurrier.

Come to think about it, I’m betting both the English and the Italian were derived from the Dog.

Philologus narro, as it were.  Look it up.



23 08 2009

I like words.  

Latin is great. Audio, video, disco is one of my favorite sayings.: “I see, I hear, I danced in the 70’s….”

Italian makes anything sound appealing: Se masticare una cosa io ti uccidero (“If you chew up one more thing I will kill you”).  Is there any other language that delivers a death threat like a love letter?

English has it’s own merits.  My Contessa is well versed in that language and those words spoken through the lilt of her accent are pure charm.

Easy English words are my favorite: good,walk, nap, go, stay….God.  English must really be the heart of communication.  What other language associates the dog with deity so closely (Dog/God, God/Dog.  I mean, there MUST be a missing link here, right?)

But, I think eat is the most exciting English word of all, and not for the obvious reason.  Not withstanding the words neuter and tutor, which should NEVER be mistaken one for the other, it’s the rhyming I find so fascinating.

Etymologically speaking, nearly every word that rhymes with eat is appealing to the ears of a small dog.  Treat, meat, teat, seat (plush and velvet covered, of course). Neat is really the only word that suffers a bit.  Neat is not aspiration but inspiration: a cause to rumple, tear and chew, therefore functionally fascinating, as well.

Any English words that ring in your ears?  Italian; Latin?

Ego sum canis, ergo ego sum.


Fairies and Ferrys

16 07 2009

There are ferries and there are fairies.  Large, rolling ships and tiny, twittering creatures.


So, it becomes clear when speaking about either that whomever is speaking, explains.


“Ferry,” said the Contessa, practicing her finest english.


I rise, bolt upright at the thought of something small and easily chased.  I look around. Nothing but a large, lumbering vessel pulling into port.  I sniff the air for traces of fairy dust. Niente.


The meaning then crystalizes.


God, I miss latin.  Ab origine.  Abusus non tollit usum.


Look it up.



A Dying Art?

20 01 2009

There was a time (lament) that words meant what they said and said what they meant.  But, the days of Latin are long over. 

The language of dogs is nearly as succinct and explicit as Latin….nearly. In dog-to-dog communication there is rarely the ambiguity of English…

Witness below.  Proofreading is a dying art, would you say?

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
This one was caught in the SGV Tribune the other day. They put in a correction the next day.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says.
No, really? Ya think?

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that’s taking things a bit far!

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
No-good-for-nothing’ lazy so-and-so’s!

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if that works any better than a fair trial!

War Dims Hope for Peace
can see where it might have that effect!
If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
Ya think?!

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Who would have thought!

Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
You mean there’s something stronger than duct tape?

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Weren’t they fat enough?!
Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
That’s what he gets for eating those beans!

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks. 
Do they taste like chicken? 

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is….
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Did I read that right?
Further proof that reading twice, counts!
Ciao…I mean: Chow….


18 11 2008

No, that’s not a gender term.  Though, I do think many women might equate the two meanings and, perhaps, since Latin is in play, there may be some truth to the parallel…especially if Latin was invented by a woman.

Male in Italiano is pronounced ma-le…to be sick.  Thermometer by covemanMy Contessa is sick and I’m in heaven.bed of clouds silhoutte by moemoechi

I do not mean to make light of her influenza, but consider this:

What is the one place a dog prefers to be on a cold, blustery autumn day?  In bed.Lonely in bed by Joey Harrison

What is the one thing a dog loves to have in bed?  A heating pad with three levels of warmth. Electrex Vintage Heating Pad by Yee_Haw

What is the best sensory thing a dog wishes for?  Chinese take-out; Fried rice to be exact.57 炒飯 (Vol. 3) Fried Rice by Eat-My-Heart-Out 你吃,我看

The first three days of the flu are heaven.  What dog is unable to sleep through a little coughing and wheezing in exchange for the time of his life.

Alas, soon it will be over.  We’ll be back on the wind-swept Pincio in the bitter cold.  The only warmth with three degrees of setting will be how far I place myself from the fire every night.

And no more Chinese.1940 Booklet Dogs of the World Rival Dog Food by Vintage Quincy

Health can be hell. Please read + pass it on! by myla kent


Non-Conjunctive Visitation

23 05 2008

From the Latin: conjunctus: serving to connect; non: to not.

Seven days and counting. 

Did I mention that when my Contessa visits, I am not allowed to fondle the favorite blue angora sweater she wears?  woman's puppy hanging out of blouseNo nose in the cleavage; no lick behind the ear. 

I am forced to sit behind bars and enjoy only the odor of the day she’s had, tracing her path in an olfactory fashion: the macelleria on her fingers, smoke from the corner bar downwind, a pause to test, with a single touch of her fingernail, the freshness of the day’s catch displayed in Campo di Fiori.Campo di Fiori

It’s like smelling porchetta atop the impossibility of a tall table.  My stomach turns as the ineviability of denial sinks in.  devil dogAnd I hate the postman more. 

The wag in my tail fades into a low poise.  don's tailDreams of a warm hug and tasty treat vanish as my Contessa dabs one eye, bids me “Ciao”, and slips through the door to freedom.

Chow, indeed.


5 05 2008

Trivia: the details of a dog’s day. 

Cigarette stubs in the gutter, gum on a shoe, the tail of another dog, strewn with hair obviously not it’s own…Though the word itself means “something that isn’t important”, any dog knows that the devil’s in the details, non e vero?

But does anyone out there know (without looking it up) where or why the word originated?

Latin, trivium: three roads.Appian061106 Intersection on the Way

In Roman times, messages were posted at the intervals of intersections along the Roman roads.  intersectionThose messages, sometimes very important, became “trivia”…not so insignificant after all.

By the middle ages, trivium had evolved into the road to wisdom through three fields of study: grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics…Latin scholar booka highway forged into the future by such nobles as William F. Buckley.

It was not until 1902 that the word became associated with random information.  Thanks to Logan Pearsall Smith and his little book of random thoughts, Trivia, the word we use today was born.

You may ask how a small Roman dog might come to know all this?small dogs

Trivia, of course. 

Keep your nose to the ground and your mind open.small dog with shadow


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