Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ra shtoria d’ur straninome ed Giusvalla

The tradition of “ur straninome” (soprannome) goes back centuries in Giusvalla. Historical research among the ecclesiastical records of the parish church of Giusvalla reveals that the use of “ur straninome” was widespread at least as far back as the late 17th century. My ancestor Pietro Perrone, for example, is recorded with his straninome “detto Pallardino” (Palardèn in the Giusvalla dialect) among the baptismal records of his children in the first decade of the 19th century.

Many of the straninomi were derived from the individual’s given name (Gaspare/Gashpèn, Caterina/Catarinìn, etc.), but they could also be descriptive of some individual character trait (Erchetto, Volpèn, etc.) or allude to the geographical origin of the individual (Brucìn, Mutèn, etc.). The nicknames could also be mulit-generational, for example "Fortunato, son of Santino" could be known as “Furtinìn ed Tzentòn.”

The tradition was still very common in the era during which our immigrant ancestors came from Giusvalla to the United States, so many of us remember (or at least recall hearing about) our older family members who were referred to by these nicknames. As I wrote in an earlier post, my great-grandfather Francesco Rosaio was known to his fellow Giusvallèn as “Franceschèn.” This nickname came down another three generations in my family; my grandfather Frank, my uncle Frank and then I - we were all called “Franceschèn” by our family while we were growing up.

We have carried the tradition down to the next generation in my family, my dear cousin Enzo came all the way from Giusvalla recently to be the godfather (ur parrèn) of my new son - and bestowed upon him an appropriate Giusvalla straninome - “Tunèn ed Barbiella” - in honor of our paternal ancestor “Tunòn ed Barbiella,” who sired my great-grandfather - the first in my family to come from Giusvalla to the United States.

A’summa tanci cuntenti, me cör cuggèn Enzo, at ringraz per tuccì quesht’shmana …. am men‘nan vag a deshmentiemie mai ciü .... a presht!

In the picture: Our patriarch, Tunòn ed Barbiella

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