Galeotto

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by Silvia, Nov 12, 2005.

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  1. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    I'd like to know if there is a word (adjective) in English for the following meaning of galeotto:

    something that has played the trick with someone, a dinner, a meeting, a place, a song that made someone fall in love with someone else
     
  2. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    "Puck" maybe? Or an "interloper?" A "go-between?"

    Z.
     
  3. la grive solitaire

    la grive solitaire Senior Member

    United States, English

    For example, the book that Paolo and Francesca were reading? Good question--but I can't come up with an equivalent word or expression in English. I'll keep thinking...
     
  4. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
    Maybe "played Cupid"? Although we is it more often for a person ("I played Cupid and introduced my friend to my brother."), I think you could say that a book or a song played Cupid.
     
  5. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australia
    Australian English
    Could it be "intermediary"? I don't really understand the question tho'.
     
  6. Manuel_M Senior Member

    Malta
    Maltese
    Silvia, have you considered fateful?
     
  7. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Do you mean a yenta or matchmaker?

    A Pandar (bad meaning in everyday English) or go-between?

    A helper in courtship whose tactic backfires, like Cyrano or John Alden?

    A mischievous agent like Puck (with his drugged flowers-- like Pandar, a little too literary). We tend to think more of Cupid and his arrow.

    That's what I derive from your explanation of galeotto, so if you could clarify a little maybe I could come up with something.

    Sometimes I heard "ohe, galeotto!" called out to someone, as "guagliò" or "ohe, biondo!" might be called out to me, on the street. It was usually a bad troublemaker who'd been away from the scene for a while. It was an invitation to let the rest of us know what he'd been up to.

    I don't think it literally meant "jailbird," but was being used ironically. Or speculatively-- the guys I ran around with were headed in that direction for sure, but most were too young to have already been galeotti.

    It was a way of saying, "long time no see," but anyway this has nothing to do with the figurative meaning you're suggesting. Let me know which of my choices (if any) approaches the meaning you want, and I'll try to come up with something specific and colloquial. Otherwise AE might just have to steal galeotto!
    .
     
  8. Manuel_M Senior Member

    Malta
    Maltese
    I think it means an event which led to a very negative outcome...like a chance meeting which leads to a romance which ends tragically. Not sure though.
     
  9. pwa Junior Member

    Mendocino coast
    english; usa
    Ciao Silvia! Could you please use the word, "galeotto", in a sentence or two? I, for one, am not familiar with the word, and it is not in my dizionario Garzanti...
     
  10. I believe you mean something that "did the trick" -- caused someone to fall in love, say.

    In AE we might say, "did the trick," "was the magic word," "made the grade" and similar expressions.

    You also might see "found the key to her heart" or something similar, although that's very slightly antique.

    "Carlo had been asking Elisa out on dates for weeks, but she'd never go. Finally he send her a dozen red roses and that did the trick: They are going to the cinema Friday."

    "Carlo asked Elisa to marry him -- he cited his job, his income, his good character. Still she hesitated. Finally he said, 'I love you' and that was the magic word. She agreed and they are now engaged."

    "Carlo asked Elisa to marry him -- he said how much he loved her. Still she hesitated. Finally he mentioned how much he likes her dog. That turned out to be the key to her heart, and she agreed."
     
  11. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australia
    Australian English
    Of course! "Did the trick" sounds right to me. It was the "played" that misled me.
     
  12. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I assumed everyone knew the literal meaning, and now I find it isn't in the WR dictionaries either.

    Galeotto means a guy who just got out of jail, or has been disreputably missing for a while. Ex-convict or jailbird (think of "gaol" in BE). A galley-slave, in Roman times.

    Galeotto was a stock character in the Commedia dell'Arte, a sort of rascal who comes and goes inopportunely, usually screwing up people's plans, and of course advancing the "comedy of errors." Like all such characters he goes back to Plautus, or the popular street-theater stuff Plautus derived from, and Galeotto was one of the various "slave" archetypes-- remember Pseudolus (the Zero Mostel character in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum)? If not, shame on you-- rent the DVD immediately.

    Anyway, Plautean slaves like him (Zero Mostel) were also devious matchmakers whose machinations usually went askew. But I think Galeotto was at the bad end of the "sclavus" spectrum, and had something of the fugitive about him. He usually got a whipping in the last scene.

    I couldn't find a Latin forbear for this name, but I'm highly confident I'm remembering it right from Commedia dell'Arte (even though it's been a while!). Galeatus in Latin means "wearing a helmet."
    .
     
  13. Well, now I am totally confused.
     
  14. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australia
    Australian English
    There's obviously more than one meaning for "galeotto". Silvia did say "the following meaning of galeotto" so was obviously refering to another other than someone who's been in jail.
     
  15. Elisa68 Senior Member

    Italy Language:Italian
    :D Carrick, as usual you perfectly translated what Silvia was looking for! (Great examples, btw!!)

    Fox, these are other meaning for the word galeotto. Actually, the meaning Silvia asked for, is used by Dante and refers to Galehaut the man "who arranged for Lancelot to receive his first kiss from Queen Guinevere" here.
     
  16. Elisa68 Senior Member

    Italy Language:Italian
    I found procurer in Garzanti and also go-between, as Isotta suggested.
     
  17. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    That's what I was suggesting in my first post (#7), when I mentioned a go-between like Pandar. (from Troilus and Criseyde) The Arthurian legend doesn't yield an English term like "pander," and that was what the original post asked for.

    Problem is, "pandering" means something a little lower-class, namely solicitation of prostitution-- that's why I asked for clarification and more information.

    The other stuff I added when I realized people weren't even finding galeotto in the dictionary, at all. The word in Italian does mean "jailbird," originally "galley-slave." These were two completely separate posts, and the jailbird stuff wasn't presented as more information about Pandar and Cyrano.
    .
     
  18. Elisa68 Senior Member

    Italy Language:Italian
    Yes, you are right I confused the posts!:eek:
     
  19. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
    Procurer has negative implications ;) , it is a fancier way of saying pimp:warn: . To say "go between", in modern English, we'd say (in AE) "played Cupid" or "played matchmaker" . To speak of the effect of an object, Ï think "key to his/her heart" as carrick suggested works very well.
     
  20. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Still, I think we've clarified two different etymologies for the words. That's more than any of us started out with.
    .
     
  21. Here's an example of someone acting as a go-between in American literature. In "The Courtship of Miles Standish" Standish feels too inarticulate to ask for the hand of Priscilla himself, so sends his friend John Alden to ask her for him. He doesn't know John also loves Pricilla. Turns out she likes him, too: She replies, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"

    I'm not sure this is what the Italian term means or whether the examples I gave earlier are closer.
     
  22. Elisa68 Senior Member

    Italy Language:Italian
    If this could be of any help in Italian it has not a negative connotation at all. On the contrary, it implies something romantic.
     
  23. pwa Junior Member

    Mendocino coast
    english; usa
    So...I understand the "Galeotto" referred to in Dante's Inferno. The book--the Galeotto--that they read together encourages the first kiss (which leads to their downfall) much in the same way that Gallehaut encourages Guineviere to kiss Lancelot (and we know what happened to these two!). In this sense, pandar would actually work. But is this the sense that Silvia is after? I am not sure in what way this word is used in common, contemporary Italian. I would love to find out more...
     
  24. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    Thanks to those of you who tried to stick to the topic. Please open other threads for the other meanings of galeotto, otherwise it gets too confusing in here. The adjective I'm looking for refers to something, NOT someone.

    Puck, interloper, go-between, intermediary, matchmaker, pandar, procurer (all nouns) refer to a person

    Fateful? No. Manuel, it's not about something tragic.

    la grive solitaire, you understood what I meant, but I'm starting to think there is no word for it in English.

    Elaine, are you sure "play cupid" can be used for something?

    carrickp, your examples are great but you have to go beyond. We tend to use the word galeotto thinking of something happened in the past. For instance, "Carlo had been asking Elisa out on dates for weeks, but she'd never go. Finally he sent her a dozen red roses and that did the trick: they are going to the cinema Friday." That Friday at the movies was galeotto.(I hope this answers pwa's question somehow :)) In fact, by accepting his invitation, she had the chance to know him better, and that date was galeotto. Does this make sense? If she had rejected his invitation that day... it's likely they wouldn't be married now. Also, it often has an ironic nuance, as what happened was against her will.
     
  25. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australia
    Australian English
    Do you mean something like a "twist of fate"?
     
  26. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    Divine providence? Divine intervention? A happy turn of luck?

    Z.
     
  27. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    It is a twist of fate in some way, because at first you have someone who was not in love with someone else, and then something changes. But twist of fate is too broad, generic, it doesn't have the same meaning as galeotto.
    Hmm, I guess not. We don't associate it to God or divine intervention, rather to something tricky.
     
  28. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
     
  29. You little ripper! Senior Member

    Australia
    Australian English
    "The turning point" could possible fit with all the examples you've given.
     
  30. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    What about very simply "lucky," or "sheer luck?" Luck is tricky, can be positive, has no religious connotations, is inanimate...

    Z.
     
  31. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    No, Isotta, it's not a matter of luck, it's not easy to explain, Elaine and la grive solitaire agreed, there's no such a word for galeotto, I'm afraid.
     
  32. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    It appears you are in luck. We had this in the French forum recently. You could leave it in Italian, with the idea that it could make its way into English in its own right, or you could invent some highly colorful way of saying it in translation.

    Z.
     
  33. In the good sense, in AE we might say "that's when the magic happened" (as far as I know AE doesn't have a single word for this).

    We'd also need a phrase for the ironic aspect: "That's when fate intervened," "That was the fateful day," "That's when sparks began to fly." Or maybe something like, "That was the fork in the road: after that nothing was ever the same."

    As you can see, I'm still not sure I'm getting the true sense of "galeotto" in Italian.
     
  34. Silvia

    Silvia Senior Member

    Italy
    Italian
    carrickp, I'm sorry I couldn't explain it any better so far, I'll try again, in a different way. Suppose you're a married guy. You're at home with your wife and a couple of her friends. One of them starts saying "I still wonder how you could you fall for him, I remember you didn't even want to talk to him", and she says "Well, yes, you're right, it was all the fault of that stupid party I went to, my friend stood me up and I knew no one else there... so he was there and talked to me all night long..."
    So the party was "..." (all the fault of it, it was that party that caused all that happened afterwards..., as if that party "diddled" her or "ripped her off", or even made a rod for her own back).
     
  35. pwa Junior Member

    Mendocino coast
    english; usa
    The party acted as the Galeotto (Gallehaud in the Arthurian legend) but without, necessarily, the tragic overtones. The party was the catalyst. And though I tend to agree with the others--there probably is no one adjective in English to convey this sense--I will continue to think...In the mean time, Silvia...is it possible for you to please use this word in one or two sentences in italiano, per favore?
     
  36. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I need some help comprehending this notion. The subject of the post was "galeotto," and the object of all these posts is to provide extra information for people looking up words in the WR dictionaries-- "galeotto" does not have a definition, by the way, so this one post stands to be the only source of information on the WR sites for the word, in any of its senses.

    No one seems to have been able to find a reference to the particular sense of this word that was conceived, and for which an English translation was requested. It turns out "galeotto" in this sense is rarified and arcane, and an English equivalent probably doesn't exist-- even so, I made a pretty good stab at it, with Pandar, Cyrano, John Alden and Cupid's arrow.

    The only actual dictionary entry found so far for the word, in the Mondatori Dictionary, gives the definition of convict, galley-slave, and jailbird (gaol-bird).

    I'm not saying that's the only definition, but it sure looks like the mainstream definition to me. That elusive (if it exists) Lady-Windermere's-fan sense of the word would be the "other" meaning, if we were to split hairs about it. The primary sense has the advantage of existing in the spoken language, and is more than a literary allusion or inkhorn term.

    Maybe someone can explain to me why someone looking up "galeotto" in the WR Italian-English dictionary would be disadavantaged by finding a thread discussing two or more senses of the word. That is how dictionary entries themselves are structured.

    I think I contributed helpfully. Who can second-guess with such punctiliousness why the average visitor might have looked up "galeotto" on the WR dictionary site?
    .
     
  37. lsp

    lsp Senior Member

    NY
    US, English
    HUH?? :confused: :confused: :confused: never heard any of these expressions (well,the first two maybe, but not so they'd fit into your context by a stretch :eek: )!

    Anyway, the party was "the turning point." It also "did the trick," as carrickp said, and was the "catalyst," as mentioned by pwa.
     
  38. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    Garzanti online only gives the translations, apart from that which is listed above, "go-between," "procurer," and "that acts like a go-between."

    I think many of the suggestions are good translations, but perhaps it is good to drive a hard bargain?

    Z.
     
  39. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    L'Elisir d'Amore, an opera by Donizzetti, has an amatory comedy-of-errors with a prop that goes awry, a bit like the aphrodisiac flowers Isotta had in mind when she mentioned Puck.

    Love between two people who dislike each other at first is a Hollywood staple, of course. For Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night, for example, the "moment of truth" was when they got stranded and had to hitchhike together.

    Elixirs of Love don't pop up much in English-speaking culture, but a good term for one might be "love potion #9."

    Increasingly, it looks like Sylvia's going to have to come up with her own prop, and tailor-make her own expression. Coining your own terms can be a real "watershed moment" for a student of language, so I hope at least it's a positive outcome, after all this frustration.
    .
     
  40. pwa Junior Member

    Mendocino coast
    english; usa
    So...how about using the chemical term "catalytic"? I think that this well conveys the meaning that Silvia seems to be after. The catlytic event was the party...the party was the element that encouraged the couple to fall in love...
     
  41. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Yes, but these are people and NOT things, and we've already been chastened for offering them.

    Maybe W.C. Fields's "Fatal Glass of Beer" is a possibility, as plot-twist devices go. We need some inveterate film buff to come up with the actual term for that catalytic moment in a screwball comedy, when the dislike is suddenly transformed, and quantum mass is achieved. When exactly was it that the scales fell from Kate Hepburn's eyes in The African Queen?

    Failing that, we need to find the definitive prop-- something like Desdemona's hankerchief, but of course with the reverse effect.
    .
     
  42. pwa Junior Member

    Mendocino coast
    english; usa

    The "galeotto" in the AFRICAN QUEEN was the German invasion--this was what threw these two together, no?

    By the way...I have appreciated your enlightening additions to this thread...
     
  43. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    Ah yes, ffb, perhaps it was a vain delusion.

    But. I have come to understand that this particular meaning is figurative and poetic. Not to mention the word is sometimes--rather, most often, from what I understand--used to describe a person. Thus I don't see why the English word must be limited to an inanimate force. If I say Puck intervened, I don't mean that I believe in fairies. I mean some happy turn of Fortune's wheel caused something to happen. If it works thus in English, I don't see why it can't meet its Italian counterpart.

    This is an example sentence, furnished by an Italian friend:
    "Galeotto fu quel bacio."

    A lot of things we mentioned could do the trick in English.

    Z.
     
  44. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    I seem to remember something about being attacked by bloodsuckers. Maybe tsetse flies, too.

    Z.
     
  45. walnut

    walnut Senior Member

    Italy
    Italy - Italian
    This thread is closed.
    The original question was widely discussed and further contributions would take this thread too far/off topic from the original question.
    Thank you all for your interesting contributions!
    :) Walnut
    moderator
     
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