Tag Archives: napuletano

‘O Ggiovedi Santo (Maundy Thursday)

by Gianni Polverino
English translation my own


’O Ggiovedí Santo
è na jurnata triste,
fuje ll’urdema cena
’e Ggesú Cristo.

Cu ppane e vvino
nzieme a Ggesú,
a ’sta tavula
ce stive pure tu.

Si a cchesta jurnata
tu ce pienze,
pàssate ’a mana
p’ ’a cuscienza.

English Translation

Maundy Thursday
is a sad day
it was the Last Supper
of Jesus Christ.

With bread and wine
together with Jesus
at this table
you were there, too.

If on this day
you think about it,
give a hand
to your conscience.*

*pàssate ’a mana p’ ’a cuscienza literally means “Give the hand to the conscience” but in English is more like “Ask your conscience” or “Do what you know is right.”

Era De Maggio

Meaning “It Was of May” in Napuletano – Both the lyrics were written by Salvatore Di Giacomo and the music composed by Mario Costa in 1885. My favorite recording of it was by Roberto Murolo some time in the 1950s:

With the fact that the Coronavirus may keep us stuck isolated until May, it seems far too appropriate.

Era De Maggio

in Neapolitan

Viersetto 1

Era de maggio e te cadeano ‘nzino
a schiocche a schiocche li ccerase rosse,
fresca era ll’aria e tutto lu ciardino
addurava de rrose a ciente passe.

Era de maggio; io, no, nun mme ne scordo,
na canzona cantàvemo a ddoje vvoce;
cchiù tiempo passa e cchiù mme n’allicordo,
fresca era ll’aria e la canzona doce.

E diceva: «Core, core!
core mio, luntano vaje;
tu me lasse e io conto ll’ore,
chi sà quanno turnarraje!»

Rispunneva io: «Turnarraggio
quanno tornano li rrose,
si stu sciore torna a maggio,
pure a maggio io stonco ccà».

Viersetto 2

E sò turnato, e mò, comm’a na vota,
cantammo ‘nzieme la canzona antica;
passa lu tiempo e lu munno s’avota,
ma ammore vero, no, nun vota vico.

De te, bellezza mia, mm’annammuraje,
si t’allicuorde, ‘nnanze a la funtana:
ll’acqua llà dinto nun se secca maje,
ferita d’ammore nun se sana.

Nun se sana; ca sanata
si se fosse, gioia mia,
‘mmiezo a st’aria ‘mbarzamata
a guardarte io nun starria!

E te dico: «Core, core!
core mio, turnato io sò,
torna a maggio e torna ammore,
fà de me chello che vuò!».

It Was of May

my English translation

Verse 1

It was of May, and they were falling into your lap
bunches and bunches of red cherries,
Fresh was the air and all of the garden
was scented with rose, for a hundred paces.

It was of May; I, no, I don’t forget
a song sung with two voices;
more time passes and more I remember
fresh was the air and the sweet song.

And she said: “Love, love!
my love, you’re going far away;
you’re leaving me and I count the hours,
who knows when you shall return!”

I responded: “I will return
when the roses return,
if this bloom returns in May,
then in May I will be here.”

Verse 2

And I returned, and now, like that time,
we sing together the old song;
time passes and the world turns,
but true love, no, that doesn’t change course.

Of you, my beauty, I fell in love,
if you remember, in front of the fountain:
The water there inside never dries,
and a wound of love never heals.

It never heals; that healed
if it could be, my joy,
amidst this perfumed air
I would not be looking at you!

And I say to you: “Love, love!
my love, returned I have,
May returns and love returns,
do with me what you wish!”

Featured image.

Napuletano Preposition/Article Combinations

I’ve been compiling these from the songs and classical poetry I’ve been reading lately, and I figure that they should be put all in one place for reference.

The most used prepositions in turn-of-the-century Napuletano (Neapolitan, or Southern Italian) are:

Napuletano Italian Meaning & Notes:
d’ / ‘e di “of”, d’ in front of vowels, ‘e everywhere else.
a a “to,” triggers doubling of the next consonant.
da / ‘a da “from”, often just as da
‘n in “in,” usually prefixed on the word it precedes (e.g. ‘nciello).
ncoppo su “on”

These combine with the definite articles:

  • ‘o – masculine
  • ‘a – feminine
  • ‘e – plural
  • ll’ – preceding a vowel

And these combinations are are completely different from Standard Italian:

‘o ‘a ‘e ll’
sing. pl.
d’/’e d”o d”a d”e ‘e ll’ (same as sing.)
a ô â ê a ll’ (same as sing.)
da/’a da ‘o da ‘a da ‘e ‘a ll’ (same as sing.)
‘n dint”o dint”a dint”e dint’all’ dint’ali’
ncoppo ncopp”o ncopp”a ncopp”e ncopp’all’ ncopp’ali’

For da/’a, very often (especially in older Napuletano) it will provoke the article to keep its l (e.g. da lo, da la, da le, da ll’).

Other prepositions in Napuletano follow similar patterns too, such as pe, nfino, etc. and I’ll update this article here with more later.