Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A TOOTHY DISTRICT?

With the world's attention having been on babies, and one baby in particular, for the past few days, I did not post yesterday or on Monday. What do you think about when you think of babies? Cribs, cradles, rattles and baby buggies? The babies themselves and how irresistibly cute they are with all the smiles, gurgles and cuddles? Or perhaps you remember the more stressful moments, like those of teething.

You could be forgiven for imagining that there are rather a lot of teething babies in a district of Modica called "Dente". Or could it be that the area has more than its fair share of dentists? Perhaps the area is shaped like a tooth? The area where I live is called the "Sorda", after a deaf woman who had a cafĂ© here, so maybe a somewhat toothy lady owned a similar establishment in Dente?  No, none of these provide the reason for the district's name and I've always wondered about it.  Now, thanks to a student of mine, I can tell you the etymology of "Dente":

It seems that, at the beginning of the last century, a wooden sculpture of a Byzantine Madonna was found in the area and afterwards that part of Modica was always called "Urenti", the Sicilian dialect pronunciation of "Oriente". But this is also the way in which "dente" ["tooth"] is pronounced in Sicilian dialect. Later, when the term was translated into standard Italian, a mistake was made and the district acquired the name "Dente" instead of "Oriente."

7 comments:

rosaria williams said...

Fascinating!

Jenny Woolf said...

I love those kind of roundabout explanations!

Winchester whisperer said...

Al oriente?

Liz said...

Dialects must be so confusing! Daughter-in-law says that her grandmothers both speak dialect and she sometimes struggles to understand them.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Glad you think so too, Rosaria. Me too, Jenny. All', WW. Yes, that can happen, Liz.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Babies,, what do I think when I think of them ?? The crying , the sleepless nights , the nappies the not understanding them ,, and then cute, cuddles ,,

As you can guess , I am not maternal ,, have two sons, 5 grandchildren (love them) but babies ,, that is a different story ,, I will look after them if I really have too, but normally I leave that to mum and dad or the other nanny,, I like them when they can talk, and like to go out and explore

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks for sharing that, Anne. x

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