CALABRESE VS. CALABRIAN
When people ask me what my book’s about and I start talking about Calabria, the word calabrese often comes up. “So does it have something to do with calabres?” At first I was surprised that many people seemed to have more of a familiarity with an Italian form of a word than its English translation. I then came to realize that, whether heard spoken by a friend or co-worker or seen written on a restaurant menu, the original Italian term may actually be used more frequently than its English counterpart.
To clear up the terminology, Calabria is the name of the region in the toe of the Italian boot in both English and Italian. Calabrese is its adjectival form in Italian. So, for example, if you were talking about cooking from that area, it would be called cucina calabrese. The English adjectival form is Calabrian, thus Calabrian cuisine.
The nationality is also taken from the adjective, so a person from Calabria (male or female) would be a Calabrese (Italian) or Calabrian (English). In its plural form, the e changes to an i, thus, the Calabrian people would be Calabresi and Calabrian wines, vini calabresi.
As for the use of capitalization, Italian is a little different from English. When calabrese is used as an adjective or to modify another word, the first letter isn’t capitalized in Italian, thus, cultura calabrese as compared with Calabrian culture. When used as a noun, it’s generally capitalized. I hesitate to write any hard and fast rules with regard to Italian grammar, as I often find Italians themselves a bit ambiguous due to the complications of their language. For example, Grammatica-italiana.com, a comprehensive grammar website, gives an example with the word italiano (Italian), explaining that when used as an adjective, it’s fitting to use the lower case and when used as a noun, it’s advisable but not obligatory to capitalize. Rules and theories with regard to the positioning of an adjective in relation to a noun are even more involved.
SO WHAT IS CALABRES?
Calabres is simply a shortened form of calabrese, an Anglicization of the Italian word. Although it’s common in Italian-American communities, it wouldn’t be abbreviated in Italy. Most Italian words end in a vowel, and that’s the way they like it.
CALABRESE OR CALABRIAN?
Calabrian-Americans tend to use the word Calabrese over Calabrian, understandably so, as the term has been passed down through generations. Likewise with Calabrian-American authors, and as a matter of fact, many computer spellchecks accept the word Calabrese but not Calabrian. The older British accounts of Calabria, however, all use the traditional English word.
As I see it, the fact that the British have had an English form of the word for a very long time is a good sign, indicating that Calabrians have been talked about for at least as long. Personally, in writing, I find it easier to stick with the English as I then don’t have to struggle with whether or not to then combine it with an Italian article or plural. But language is always changing—look at how fast everyone switched from Turin to Torino in order to appear in-the-know during the 2006 Winter Olympics!
Calabrian Woman or Calabrese Woman?
Read about Calabria and its people, Calabrians and Calabresi, their rich history, traditions, arts, food, society, daily life, tourist sites and other information regarding this fascinating region in my award-winning, nonfiction book Calabria: The Other Italy, widely available in paperback and e-book versions.
Calabria: The Other Italy makes a great gift!
Are you ready to meet the Calabresi? Come on an in-depth tour with Karen’s Travel LLC. Check out the itineraries on my Calabria Tour page.