Friday, January 20, 2012

DeNiros. DeCaprios. Decoded.

The Italians are a large hearted race. They gave us the ice cream cone, eye glasses, Eau de Cologne, typewriter, piano, espresso machine, thermometer, the Mona Lisa, the Vespa scooter, the Ferrari car, the Armani suit, 600 types of pasta, 500 scrumptious pizzas, 400 varieties of cheese, 350 concoctions of wine and above all, the ever luscious Monica Bellucci.

May I take the liberty of adding one more unsung item to this compellingly impressive repertoire – the finest sounding surnames in the world!

Yup, let’s have the grace to admit it: There is no match to the lilt of a Lamborghini, the polish of a Prada and the gentility of a Gucci. It is a fact that a Bulgari sounds infinitely more sophisticated than a Balaraju and a Vivaldi is far more pleasant to the ear, than a Vivekananda. Some attribute it to the phonoaesthetic nature of the language. I haven’t yet figured out why.

All I know is Italian surnames aren’t as beautiful or profound when one gets around to studying their literal meaning. For example, Botticelli means ‘Little barrel’ and it was initially used as a sniggery nickname to describe rotund folks. Somehow, over the years, it has emerged as a renowned cognomen with a mellifluous ring.

Ferrari, for all its uber-rich cues, is a derivative of ‘one who works with Ferrum (iron)’. Or simply put: a highfalutin euphemism for a blacksmith! Zappa, for all its coolness, is Italian for ‘hoe’ (an agricultural tool). The Cavalli in Roberto Cavalli comes from the word ‘cavallero’ which decodes to ‘horseman’. And the very uppity Cerutti alludes to just about anyone with curly hair.

I am damn sure, the companies that launched these brands were perfectly aware of the semantic ordinariness of their monikers. They still went ahead because of the euphonic possibilities.

I would do the same as all that matters is how the name feels when you utter it. DiCaprio has a royal vibe to it. If I told you, it just translates to ‘goat’ you’d probably junk it. Ditto with De Niro (black haired), Fellini (fur maker) and Coppola (flat cap). Don’t you agree, signor?