For He’s a jolly good fellow …


Howdy, folks!

It’s nobody’s birthday, nobody’s promotion or wedding today, but I’m going to talk about cheerfulness. Today’s word by A.Word.A.Day. describes a good-tempered guy, maybe a  bit ‘overweight’, but surely … a jolly good fellow!


adjective: Fat, jolly, and convivial.
After Sir John Falstaff, a character in Shakespeare’s plays Henry IV (parts 1 & 2) and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Earliest documented use: 1809.
“His hair was long and scruffy, his ties ludicrous and his manner jovial bordering on Falstaffian; a board meeting, for him, was a debate, punctuated by gales of his maniacal laughter.”
John Harvey-Jones; The Economist (London, UK); Jan 17, 2008.
ITALIAN TRANSLATION: falstaffiano (?)
One word on the Italian translation: we use to say ‘falstaffiano’ in some cases, but the expression does not define just a fat and cheerful person, but rather someone who’s basically grotesque. Huge and ridiculous. This brings me back to a couple of other words ‘a day’, which were subject of my posts in the past: bellygod (as I suppose a falstaffian guy is) and fustilarian (though a falstaffian guy might not be slovenly). Same week, same idea of corpulent guys. Funny, the first known use of the term fustilarian is in Shakespeare’s Henry IV and – fancy that! – it’s indeed Falstaff who exclaims “Away, you scullion! You rampallion! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe.”  We Italians would say: il bue che dice cornuto all’asino! What does it mean? Translated literally, the ox calling the donkey horned, or horny … well, the expression is a sort of wordplay (cornuto stands for horned but also for cuckold), so I would rather use the word horny to render the pun. I guess the English equivalent is ‘the pot calling the kettle black’, but in this case I think that the imagine of a fat ox is much better suited, don’t you think so?
See you soon, folks …
Your passionate (Italian) Translator
Illustration: Falstaff grisaille by Sarah Hope, oil on canvas
About the author: Sarah Hope is a Welsh artist specialized in live drawings from rehearsals and stage performances, mainly from the Welsh National Opera production. Most of her artistic production is focused on the human body in motion, but she also created remarkable still-life artworks. In addition, she’s experimenting with pottery and ceramic decoration techniques with valuable results. Visit her website for more details on her and her works.

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