Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by lindsey rogers, Jun 15, 2005.
What does this mean ? It is used to refer to African street hawkers in Venezia.
"Vu cumprà" it's quite a racist expression, imitating the pronounciation of African immigrants of "vuoi comprare?", the only word needed to sell on the street. It ended up being used to refer to foreign street hawkers in general.
Now, my question: how wuold you say "extracomunitario"? Is "extracommunitarian" possible?
It refers to people coming from outside of the European community, but is mainly used in Italy for African immigrates, and it sometimes has a slighlty pejorative connotation.
hope it's useful
i guess it's more politically correct to say non-EU citizens
btw vuoi comprare means "wuold you like to buy something (from me)", this one just for clarity
Well.... I think that nowadays the word "Vu cumprà" doesn't have that bad meaning you mentioned... while "extracomunitario" has...
Actually, "Vu cumprà" may also seem a nice word.
I don't know if this is just my point of view, or if, maybe, it is intended with different meanings in other parts of Italy...
But I think it doesn't offend anyone. It's just the name given to african people who sell things in the streets. Not all africans - that means it refers to the job.
Extracomunitario, instead, is more like " you are not part of this 'group' " "we don't consider you as part of this 'group' ".. It is not a bad word...if you look at the correct meaning in the dictionary..but it is actually used to discriminate people from countries like Morocco, Tunisia etc.
Never heard it about an Americans....
i strongly disagree Silvia B!
vu cumprà is offensive and racist. it has the same negative meaning of 'maccaroni' one of the pejorative word our migrant workers were called in the '50s.
how it comes that when we buy some stuff from an italian hawker we say: l'ho preso dall'ambulante
but if we bought it from a non-EU citizen we say: l'ho preso da un vu cumprà?
I agree with winnie, in my opinion "vu cumprà" sounds strongly offensive
it's better to use other words (such as "ambulante")
So it depends on how you say it.
I think that nobody in Italy would use the word " venditore ambulante" to talk about someone selling in the streets..
Of course, the word was created with a bad meaning, but now it is so used that I think it doesn't have to be considered this way.. I think many people who use it don't have the intention of being racist.
It is not a word I use.. but, I think that if I hear it from someone else I wouldn't think he is offending someone.
Ok.. maybe it depends on how he would say it...
mmmmm.....I'm confused now..... Am I the only one who thinks that!?!?
Silvia let me put things in this way:
what about if people would call you always and only 'mangia gatti'?
do you think you would be at ease with that?
venditore ambulante are exactly the words to be used if we don't want our language becomes more poor and more flattening.
following this thougth one may say that everything used a lot would lose its negative, rude or derogatory meaning. so words like cazzo, troia ecc. which are costantly heard everyday at every hour from every mouth become 'nice and positive' words. i don't think so!
It's not the same!!!!
And it is not used with every african here...just when you refer to those who sell things in the streets.
It's not Africans=vu cumprà.
And, anyway, I would never call one of them directly with this name.. It could sound rude this way, it's right.
I wouldn't say:
"hey! vu cumprà, how are you?" That is like making fun of him
But if I hear someone saying
"I bought it this morning from a nice vu cumprà"
I wouldn't think he is saying something bad about the african, nor that he is teasing him.
Those words you mentioned are different words...don't mix them with this.
Anyway, I will just never use it!!!
I don't want someone to misunderstand what I say....
And don't get angry with me =P =P Hahah!
I always use the word "ambulante"(it's politically correct, they can be both Italian or coming from abroad), and everyone understands me...
ex. "Lo ho comprato da un ambulante"
It is a fact that the term "vu cumpra' " is quite commonly used...I don't think Italian people use it because they're racists...well, I hope not so...
I´m completely sure that Silvia B is not racist and uses this word without any bad intention (like the most people in Italy); but, if there are other words we can use without being charged of racism, why not use them?
PS scusate la frase contorta
ti rispondo in italiano perché il mio inglese non è così buono da permettermi sfumature.
prima di tutto non sono assolutamente arrabbiato con te, ci mancherebbe altro! siamo qui per condividere non solo le nostre conoscenze ma anche le nostre opinioni ed il nostro modo di essere. se hai avuto l'impressione che ce l'avessi con te me ne scuso, ma come ho appena scritto il mio inglese è talmente povero che quello che voglio dire può risultare molto più 'forte' a chi conosce la lingua meglio di me.
a mio modo di vedere l'uso costante di un termine non lo nobilita né ne stempera il significato se non dopo un periodo molto lungo ovvero dopo che sia stato rimosso il motivo per il quale il termine è negativo.
mi spiego: attualmente la parola casino viene ampiamente utilizzata come sostitutivo di tanto ed ha perso il suo significato originale. la chiusura delle case di tolleranza e quindi la fine di un mondo risale alla fine degli anni 50 del secolo scorso. prima che il termine fosse accettato nel linguaggio comune sono dovuti passare almeno vent'anni da quegli eventi. io che ero un ragazzino negli anni 70 non potevo permettermi di usarla in quanto ancora si trascinava un'eco del significato originale.
ora, le tensioni sociali nel ns. paese riguardo la presenza degli immigrati del così detto terzo mondo non mi pare si siano stemperate, anzi ogni giorno abbiamo notizia di situazioni sempre più preoccupanti. l'immigrato è sicuramente visto come il diverso ed il pericoloso e quindi il razzismo che ha serpeggiato in questi anni sta diventando un fenomeno in fase di esplosione. stando le cose in questi termini starei molto attento all'utilizzo delle parole proprio per non innescare ulteriori tensioni.
inoltre vorrei chiedere agli ambulanti se sono contenti del nomignolo che gli abbiamo affibbiato ma da questo forum è impossibile. posso solo pensare ad alcune considerazioni lette su queste pagine, da parte di amici/che di origine italiania che risiedono negli US. mi pare di capire che anche italo-americani di terza generazione, cioè quelli integrati ed in qualche maniera benestanti, soffrano parecchio per i luoghi comuni sugli italiani tipo: pizza & mandolino, mafia e quantaltro.
mi fermo qui perché noto che ho scritto troppo ed anche in maniera non molto chiara. spero solo di essermi in qualche modo spiegato.
just a little clarification as to why the term...since the early vendors started down in southern Italy (it was closer to come to) they learned the first italian words from the local dialect..I believe the vu cumpra' is neapolitan.
Down in Calabria they would also call their client "cugino"(cousin..from the north)..and everyone liked it. I think it's a bit demeaning to call them 'vu cumpra'' or 'marocchini' (especially if they are not!) but just like everyone has already said, I'm sure no racist pun is intended...
Hi to everyone.
This thread is very interesting, and even we are supposed to talk about meanings of words, it is obvious that the use of words is very important, and even casually sometimes, an use can hide a "way of thinking" maybe not voluntary, but superificial. Personally I find "vucumprà" offensive and, maybe racist (in Italy it is tragically happening nowadays..). If I were an African worker certainly I felt offended. But allow me to jump to some other words :
The "neologism" "vucumprà" , coming from the origins you said, remembers me other italian neologisms as
"sciuscià" : sprung out at the end of Second World War, in Naples, and indicating neapolitan, often orphans or abandoned, kids who shined shoes for american soldiers on the road. They learnt to shout "Sho shine!" and corrupted it in "Sciuscià!" (Someone will remember the De Sica Movie "sciuscià" - oscar prize 1947)
"monsù" : nineteenth-century, roman corruption of french "monsieur" to indicate tourists , people who must be respected just for their money, (and possibily cheated...)
In any case I feel inside all these "neologisms" a hidden meaning to say "I don't accept you" or worst : "we are irresolvably different".
I think anyway that the best and polite way to call foreigners, should be to name them (us...) by their geographical origins "African" "American" "European" "Asiatic" "extracomunitario", "extracomunitarian" is definitely orrible.
The impolite words Winnie was quoting have, for me, a different use, sometimes as a too much colloquial speaking, other times as a pure justified or not justified "verbal explosion of rage" so common everywhere...
Your English is wonderful, I hope you'll permit me to make slight changes to help it. Magari un giorno parlerò italiano così... nel frattempo, ti prego di corregermi - anche le cose più piccole (questa richiesta va anche per gli altri, naturalmente)!
Some light corrections to your very good Italian
Hi you all
1- There is another italian neologism that deserves to be quoted, an equivalent of present "vucumprà" , born in first years after war, and indicating the southern people emigrating to the north of Italy :
TERRONE: it means litterally "man from earth" but the hidden meaning was "still dirty of earth even though here in town" (Milan-Turin ect) and it is the fusion of two words "terra" and "cafone" (peasant-boor). Since those years it has come causing (can anyone correct my "duration form" please...) of heavy diatribes between northern and southern italian people, because it was (or better "is") really depreciative.
2 -The quote of Winnie about bad words reminds me also a wonderfull italian romance "la Storia" by Elsa Morante , in the chapter about the "Sorelle Marrocco" (Marrocco Sisters). I'm not quoting, because these are not the real words of Morante , but the sense of them is : "The Marrocco sisters where absolutely religious women, and very good people, christian, helpfull; they were definitely miles far away from sex and its implications, but sex was always in their speaking: "shut that fucking door!" "open that fucking window!" "eat that fucking pasta!" everything for these very nice ladies was "fucking" ..."
What a marvellous book !! I need to read it again!!
No! Non preoccuparti!! Lo speravo bene che non ce l'avessi con me!!
Capisco e condivido il tuo punto di vista. L'unica cosa che vorrei fosse chiara e che, sebbene questa parola non sia certamente la più adatta... non viene sempre usata dalle persone per offendere gli immigranti africani.
Altre parole citate in questo thread, come "terrone", ad esempio, sono sicuramente molto più forti e offensive.
Comunque, si.. i luoghi comuni sono sempre negativi per chi li subisce..
E le "generalizzazioni" altrettanto.. (es ' i siciliani sono tutti mafiosi'....)
i did not mean they have the same use, i meant just because they are widely used this fact doesn't make them better, they remain nasty words! i used that bad example only to answer back a Silvia B's statement (nothing personal, i hope it's clear ):
it seems to me that the affirmation would allow the use of any words, no matter if they are nasty, racist or whatever.
i tried to explain myself in Italian in a previous post and now i'm trying to explain it in English: a derogatory word loses it's bad meaning only when the reason is no more present, unfortunately nowadays here in Italy there is a lot of social strain with regard on non-EU citizens, so 'vu cumprà' it's not a neutral name even if it is used without racist or offensive purpose.
I'd like to add my two cents worth... here in Napoli, the term "vu cumprà" is not racist at all. The term simply means "vuoi comprare" in the Neapolitan dialect, and we use it here to refer to all street vendors, whether they be immigrants or born and raised right here in the shadow of Vesuvio.
I learned the term shortly after arriving here in 1987. It was in reference to the (Neapolitan) man who was walking up and down the aisles of a train, selling sandwiches, sodas, beer and disposable cigarette lighters.
I had no idea until now that the term was used "up north", or that it might be offensive... I'm glad that I've been warned.
Now I am curious... Che cosa vuole dire "mangia gatti"--"cat-eater?"
here in Veneto there is an old saying which describes inhabitants of Venice, Padua, Verona and Vicenza:
Veneziani gran signori
Padovani gran dottori
Veronesi tutti matti
Vicentini mangia gatti
it's obviously a commonplace and it was born a few centuries ago when money and opulence were held by Venice while in Padua was settled one of the first university. so the first two lines state:
the inhabitants of Venice are rich whilst Padua's one are well educated.
the other two lines are slightly insulting since they declare that Verona's people are all crazy and Vicenza's people are cat-eaters.
please note: in Veneto there are other 3 major cities which are not mentioned at all! Treviso, Rovigo e Belluno.
at that time those towns were so irrilevant to not deserve even an insult!
nowadays the saying has no negative meaning... it's only an innocent saying and i guess younger people has hardly heard of it.
hoping your curiosity would be satisfied
(please correct my English i have the feeling i made a lot of errors!)
Is this dialect using the verb comprare?
Is the verb comperare/comprare.
It is not a dialect but standard italian. Is a short of onomatopeic word as far as it imitates the frase pronounced by venditori ambulanti who does not speak well italian in their purpose to say “vuoi/vuole comprare?”
hope it helps, bye!
Well, it's not standard Italian - neither in its spelling nor in its structure. Even if you change the spelling to "vuoi comprare?" it's not what we would say in Italian.
It sounds like an inaccurate imitation of the way it might be said in southern dialects like mine - but it still isn't right, since an object personal pronoun is required.
It is written as one word and is a racist blanket term for venditori ambulanti (mainly from Africa but also from Pakistan and more recently from China - at least in my area):
vucumprà s.m. e f.inv.
CO spec. spreg.[spregiativo, i.e. derogatory], venditore ambulante, spec. nordafricano o di colore
Yep. Both of them are right and I have been treated like one more than once here in Italy. Even my friend's grandmother though I was one when I knocked their doo looking for him. It is kind of racist.
Absolutely right, Dushnyoni. I'm aware many Italians think they are using the word jocularly but you would expect better from a nation millions of whose citizens emigrated to many countries to escape poverty.
Sadly, many Italians hanno la memoria corta.
(I expect someone will find my choice of "wop" as my nickname contradictory but I explained my reasons for choosing it in a previous post)
Yeah, but I try not to make mountains out of ant-hills and hope that ime changes things. I hope soonest possible. Nice day.
Thanks guys. That's clear now. The spelling as quoted by me was from an extract of an article from Il Sole.
Permettetemi una riflessione: nonostante io concordi col fatto che "vu' cumprà" originariamente avesse una forte connotazione negativa e razzista, come pure "terrone", penso che ai giorni nostri il significato di questi due vocaboli stia assumendo una sfumatura più neutra.
Posso assicurarvi che, almeno qui in Lombardia, alcune persone (non tutti ovviamente) attribuiscono a "vu' cumprà" semplicemente il significato di venditore ambulante straniero e usano "terrone" come sinonimo di meridionale.
Non mi piace ovviamente sentire queste parole, soprattutto pronunciate dai bambini, ma proprio loro sono un esempio di come si possano utilizzare queste espressioni senza essere offensivi.
Non sono d'accordo, Paul. Entrambi i termini hanno tuttora una connotazione estremamente dispregiativa e sono da evitare, anche se vengono usati in maniera scherzosa tra amici.
Two previous threads in which both "terrone" and "vucumprà" are discussed (and their degree of offensiveness compared):
I'll summarize what Paul wrote: he said that, though he himself dislikes the two words, some people in the North use "vucumprà" for "venditore ambulante" and "terrone" for "Southern Italian" as interchangeable, non-derogatory synonyms.
That may well be so, but, though I myself don't mind in the least if a Northern friend jokes about my being a "terrone" in a friendly, jocular way, I am not happy at all at the idea that "terrone" should be used as a "neutral" synonym for "southerner".
In the previous threads some foreros from the North agreed with me. One is a 22-year-old girl from Vicenza:
Winnie, also from Veneto:
If indeed it is becoming normal for children in the North to say "Oggi vado in piscina con due miei compagni di classe terroni" well...you can't stop language change but this is surely a development that I'm very very unhappy about and I would expect these children's parents to gently suggest that they don't use this word as it's not very nice(if you adopt a confrontational approach and tell children not to do something in a bossy tone they're bound to do exactly what you're trying to discourage ).
It's true that some African Americans in the world of hip hop use the word nigga but that's an extremely restricted use within that community. If "terroni" became a commonly used synonym for "meridionali" it would be the same as Americans referring to African Americans as niggers .
"terrone" should not be used as a synonym of southerner, but in fact it is, at least by some people.
Thanks for the translation, Moodywop.
At the end of the day, after having read all comments regarding "Vu cumpra" and "Terroni", I still insist on the fact that the both terms are extremely offensive in Nothern Italy (Brescia, Lombardia) where I have been living for the last 10 years. The fact that the words are commonly used does not justify its use. I attended a secondary school in Northern Italy where kids much younger than me used to call me "negher" (black in the local "venacular" but there was no racist nuance in it. However, "Vu cumpra" is used to describe in an insulting way the African door to door sellers, often considered as poor, lazy disturbing people who are a nuisance in the local people's day to day liofe. Same case applies to "Terroni" better known as "Terù" in Brescian and other Nothern Italy provinces dilects is used regarding people from Southern Italy in its pejorative form as a summary of all clichés about them (lazy, outdated, maffia, disorganised etc). Just think about the words "extracomunatario" and "Marocchino" in Italian language. To many the latter is a synonym of poor foreigners (especially Africans and Asians) who migrate to Italy in wrecked boats, thugs, robbers, rapists, drug peddlers, people who deny Italians job opportunities because they accept to work underpaid etc. Originally the word meant people coming from countries outside the european community, but no one calls Japanese, Australians, Americans, Swiss etc "Extracomunitario" while to say the truth they are and should hold a permit of stay like anyone else. Of late, the Italian supreme court (Cassazione) ruled that calling one "Marocchino" (Morocan in Italian) is punishable by law because it is almost a synonym of "drug peddlers, pick pockets and petty thieves in modern Italian. In my opinion, people at times underestimate the use of these words and what they mean to the mass. You hear them used even in TV. I do not want to get deeper into the matter because being a foreigner in Italy I might be a bit biased in my judgement and I also strongly beleive that racism in Italy is not only a matter of words but a hidden kind of behaviour where what at times people consider to be normal is racist. Ex. You get into a shop and someone advices you another cheaper shop because he/she beleives one cannot afford the prices in his/her shop, or that kind of empathy that seems to underline you are belong to a lower caste and so it is my duty to help you (even though the person doing it knows nothing about your backgroung and takes for granted that the fact that you are African, you must be swimming in mud). Sorry for the long boring story but I felt I had to share it with you guys.
I was dead wrong! The two-word spelling is by far the more usual one. I was influenced by the spelling in the dictionary(De Mauro usually lists variant spellings). Clearly I never paid attention to the spelling every time I read the word in papers (and I've never written it myself).
Google fight results: link
Strictly it should be cumpra', the apostrophe indicating the omission of the final syllable.
One more thought on northern kids using the word "terrone". I've already mentioned their parents. What about their teachers?
Grazie a questo tread mi sono resa conto della connotazione negativa attribuita ad alcune parole... Per me la parola vucompra’ stava per indicare solo un modo per guadagnarsi la vita e niente di più.... Certo non sono madrelingua e può darsi che sia inesperta per ciò che riguarda l’ uso quotidiano di alcuni termini!
Quel che mi lascia un po’ perplessa però, è il fatto che anche il dizionario Garzanti on line non riferisce affatto il senso dispregiativo della parola...
Riporto qua la definizione:
Etimologiaronuncia storpiata di vuoi comprare?, frase con cui questi venditori offrirebbero la loro merce
Definizione:loc. sost. m. invar. espressione con cui vengono definiti popolarmente i venditori ambulanti nordafricani.
Per quanto riguarda la parola “extracomunitario”, che anche questa come avete detto risulta offensiva, (per il Garzanti invece, sempre no...) ci sarebbe un sinonimo che non avesse una sfumatura spregiativa?
Well of course some people use the word vu cumpra' without any derogatory intentions. I suppose it's partly a matter of personal taste. I don't like the word and I don't use it. Here's what one of Italy's most respected journalists, La Stampa's Igor man has to say(in the review of a book on the history of Italian emigrants):
...spesso facciamo pollice verso ai poveri «vu cumprà» come volgarmente chiamiamo i marocchini, gli extracomunitari in genere, venuti in Italia a guadagnarsi un tozzo di pane e poca moneta da spedire laggiù, ai congiunti affamati.
As for "extracomunitario", all Dushnyoni said is that the word, originally used to refer to all people from outside the EU, is now reserved for non-white immigrants.
PS One final consideration, which should be obvious but seems to escape many people. Shouldn't those to whom the words vu cumpra' and terrone are applied be the judges of whether the words are derogatory?
Would you ask Louis Farrakhan whether he finds the word "kike" derogatory?
Dushnyoni, a bit late, but I wanted to thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. As language students, it is very easy to get these nuances wrong (I've had to correct more than one Italian native on these forums who mistakenly thought (from listening to hip-hop) that the "N" word was an acceptable way to refer to people of African ancestry), and it's very important to get the best information possible so as to avoid embarrassing and hurtful blunders. Dictionaries don't always do it.
In fact, I didn't know before this thread that "vu' compra" (a phrase I heard all the time to describe the ambulatory sellers on the beach where I lived in Sicily) was offensive. I have always objected to "i marrochini" (which I also heard all the time) because I could tell by the facial expressions and tone that accompany it that it was being used in a "dispregiativo" sense and also because it is used to refer to all the peddlars in town (many of whom are Sri Lankan, Eritrean, Chinese ... in other words, everything but Morroccan). I'm glad to see the Cassazione agrees with me .
Good afternoon to everybody: this is my first post, so I hope not to mess it up.
As Italian I just wish to add a personal consideration to this already complete discussion: Dushnyoni has already given a state of the art description of the situation, which I just wish to insert in the context of italian culture.
Simply the average italian citizen doesn't pay all the attention that I found here in Ireland (and generally in the anglosaxon countries) to the politically correct. It's a growing culture (likely fast growing), but still a baby culture. I personally know a lot of people which still say sentences like "The important is if you want to offend or not. If I say N... without malice I just want to designate the african race in the biology" and all those phrases that, pronounced in my workplace, would at least procure me a reprimenda by my teamleader. Similar terms, totally unpolitically correct, are still used to designate omosexuals, and individuals with disabilities, even in some popular magazines.
Therefore pay attention not to use words as "frocio, finocchio, checca, cieco, sordo, minorato" and also to expressions like "viene più a sud di pantelleria" (pejorative to designate african people)
As I said, must be mentioned that things are changing.
Do you pronounce this word "vucumprà" or "vugumbrà"?
Ok, dunque c'è gente che ancora intende in senso così negativo questa parola, a quanto sembra.
Io personalmente non ho mai inteso, da quel che posso ricordare, con connotati così negativi l'uso di "vu cumprà"; figurarsi che trovo anche alcuni in zona molto simpatici, e li chiamo, appunto, "vu cumprà" non di certo per dimostrarmi offensiva nei loro confronti!
"Venditore ambulante", neanche questo termine secondo me ha connotati negativi, anche se penso che abbia un "tono" meno simpatico di "vu cumprà"....
I tempi cambiano e cambiano le idee della gente, almeno in certe zone, suppongo. So per esempio che nella mia città alcuni di loro si sono ingrassati col tempo D), e sento in giro parlarne bene, ormai considerati di casa. Eppure vengono ancora definiti VC.
vucumpra is not a nice word but it refers to street seller with no permission. They used to be Africans walking on the beach selling stuff. Then it expanded to cities and they are now from the Far East (Chinese, Indians) and Middle East.
Si, oltre ai dizionari che riportano il termine come spregiativo. Non bastasse questo, consiglio di rileggere quanto scritto da Dushnyoni in un intervento precedente. Non so quante volte capita di poter avere una visuale così nitida su come un certo "vocabolo" viene percepito dalle persone.
Just reading this. If anyone is looking for an equally politically incorrect way of saying vucumprà in english then the 'best' term would be 'looky looky man' or 'looky looky men' (pl).
I agree. Regardless of the fact that people who use this expression are not necessarily racist, it is better not to use it. The word "ambulante" is perfect, especially because it does not indicate an ethnic background of the vender. Fighting against racism has to include a sort of linguistic emancipation, since every language has a number of expressions that have racist origins.
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