Papa e Papà
Pope and Father
This week the Catholic Church installs a new Santo Padre (Holy Father) and Italy celebrates its fathers and grandfathers on March 19, la festa di San Giuseppe (the feast of St. Joseph), Italians' traditional Father's Day.
One of the first pronunciation lessons I learned was the difference between Il Papa (pronounced PAH-pa) for Pope and papà (pronounced pa-PAH) for father or Dad (also called Babbo in Tuscany, Sardinia, and several southern regions). The most famous Daddy of all is Babbo Natale (Father Christmas), while God remains the Padre Eterno (eternal father).
The patron saint of fathers everywhere is Joseph, the husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus. According to legend, the staff of this humble carpenter, bloomed with entwining flower blossoms, which singled him out from Mary's other suitors as her husband-to-be. He guides fathers in their task of trying to fare da babbo a qualcuno (help or guide someone).
Fatherhood also implies authority. The master of the house, the owner of a business. or the big boss is the padrone. One of the pet phrases my husband has memorized to unfurl at the appropriate moment with Italian friends is, “Il padrone sono io, ma chi comanda è mia moglie.” (“I am in charge, but the person who gives the orders is my wife.”)
A padrone di casa is a landlord; a padrona di casa, a landlady. Anyone can acquire padronanza (mastery) and be padrone di sé (in control of one’s self).After many years, I am still striving to avere padronanza della lingua italiana (have a good command of Italian).
However, you didn't need much Italian to understand the first words of Papa Francesco to the crowds at the Vatican at his first appearance:“Fratelli e sorelle, buonasera!" (Brothers and sisters, good evening!)
The chants of the people also translated immediately into a universal expression of good will: "Evviva il papa, evviva il papa, evviva!”
Words and Expressions
padre padrone -- tyrannical, domineering father
tale padre, tale figlio -- Like father, like son
Padrone! Padronissimo! -- (literally, “Master! Very much the master!”) Suit yourself! You’ll be sorry!
L’occhio del padrone ingrassa il cavallo -- The eye of the master fattens the horse.(Any business prospers when the owner pays attention).
un figlio di papà –- a spoiled boy
Dianne Hales is author of LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.
Click below to listen to one of my favorite Puccini arias to "my dear sweet Daddy":