OK, here we go!


‘Limited palette fish’ by Karin Zeller

Subtitle: for language lovers … and animal lovers too!

Good morning, folks!

I couldn’t wait to start with this week selection by A.Word.A.Day. and I don’t let you guess the reason, I’m providing it straight away: this week is devoted to animals. Animal-related words, actually. In particular, the opening word is really familiar to me, first of all, because I love fish (animal activists and vegetarian/vegan, please forgive me!), secondly because this peculiar word has the identical usage as a typical Neapolitan expression defining a certain type of (women’s) approach, someone may call it rude or impolite, but someone may also call it a necessity in some cases. I’m providing the Neapolitan translation along with the Italian equivalent. Welcome to my homeland!


1. A coarse, vulgar-tongued woman.
2. A woman who sells fish.
From fish, from Old English fisc (fish) + wife, from Old English wif (woman). Earliest documented use: 1523.
Billingsgate, London’s famous fish market, was once known for the foul language of its fishmongers. Now the word billingsgate has become synonymous with coarse language. Fishwife is another word to come out of this trade, as in the expression “to swear like a fishwife”. It has not been determined who the winner might be in a swearing contest between a fishwife and a sailor.
His mother was a shrill fishwife who yelled and screamed even with visitors in the house.”
Brian Doherty; 40 Years of Free Minds and Free Markets; Reason (Los Angeles); Dec 2008.
Italian translation: Pescivendola 
Neapolitan equivalent: Pisciaola
Once the term ‘pisciaiola’ was considered an insult, today it’s normally used in informal speech, the ‘pisciaiola style’ being even legitimized as ‘liberating’. A common expression here is: ‘adesso libero la pesciaiola che è in me’ – literally ‘Beware, I’m gonna set free my fishwife soul’ – with the meaning that you are going to see a true verbal eruption. Funny, it seems like we are all like ‘my’ Vesuvius, cherubically calm on the surface but deep down in an awesome turmoil. We’re constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We need a vent to release our internal pressure, just like the Vesuvius. Fortunately, ‘my’ volcano has a powerful vent, the Phlegraean Fields (woe betide us if they weren’t there!) that help keeping the pressure balanced. Sometimes the soil rises if the Vesuvius  is ‘in a flutter’, sometimes it sinks (s.c. bradyseism), but never without consequences.  About three decades ago, for example, the increase of internal pressure originated by the 1980 earthquake caused a wave of bradyseism that lasted about 4 years, completely upsetting the outline of port of Pozzuoli (the major town of the Phlegraean area) and severely damaging the town buildings. Explosions are never painless, may they be ‘physical’ or ’emotional’, they always leave consequences, damages, scars. They can be a vent, they can help release the pressure, but they can cause pain, can generate reactions. ‘My’ wise volcano knows it, thanks God. We sometimes don’t. Sometimes we should learn from Nature …
About the author of the image/s: She’s another great discover on DeviantART. She was born in Germany but she lives in the rest of the world (Canada, Australia), a painting teacher and an artist herself. She masters colours and media, mixing them audaciously to create powerful and evocative pictures. I’m sharing my new fav with you with the hope you’ll love her works as much as I do. Enjoy!
Your passionate (Italian) Translator

8 responses to “OK, here we go!

  1. I was just second-guessing , ‘coz , from her point of view ,it must have been mighty hard understanding /adjusting to a philosophical husband !

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