The innocuous Italian word ‘così’ can help you understand where in Italy Italians are from.
‘Così’ means ‘so’ in English, and the way this Italian word is said can provide clues to the origins of Italians. The secret lies in the pronunciation of this exceedingly common Italian word.
Here’s why: When ‘così’ is pronounced ‘co-zee’, that’s ‘co’ as in cooperate or coordinate, and ‘zee’ as in the American pronunciation of ‘z’, this generally means the speaker hails from Italy’s north.
One the other hand, when ‘così’ is pronounced ‘co-see’, with the ‘s’ as in ‘sea’, then that means the speaker was probably brought up in one of Italy’s southern regions, such as Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Sicily, or Puglia.
An Italian Word to Listen Out For
The next time you hear an Italian speaking Italian, see if you can hear the word ‘così’ and how it is said. Just for fun, you could, when you hear ‘co-see’, comment to Italians you come across in Italy’s north, “I guess you are from southern Italy”. Expect raised eyebrows and, “Yes, I am. How did you know?”.
Then again, should you find yourself in Italy’s south and hear an Italian use ‘co-zee’, then why not ask if they are from Italy’s north?
Maybe you deal with Italians in connection with import of Italian products. If so, if you happen to hear one on the phone chatting away in Italian, listen out for the word ‘così’. Then, if you didn’t know, after the call, you could say, “You’re from the south of Italy, aren’t you?”.
I suspect Italians will be impressed and quite flattered at your ability to identify where they are from.
For those of you who are linguists, the pronunciation of the word ‘s’ in Italian as ‘see’ is known as the ‘s sorda‘. This translates, probably inaccurately, as the ‘deaf s’.
Certain Italian words, such as ‘sasso’ (pebble or stone) use the ‘see’ ‘s’ normally and hearing them won’t indicate where Italians come from.
No go forth and listen to Italians. You won’t have to wait too long to hear the Italian word ‘così’. You could then spark a little conversation or it could even work as an ice-breaker.
Let me know how you get on. Have fun!