After the new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci went on a profanity laced tirade in a conversation with New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, Scaramucci explained that he sometimes uses “colorful language,” and many noted that this was part of his Italian heritage. Indeed, Italians are known for their passionate speech, but there are a couple of useful lessons in this scandal. Consider it my own Rosetta Stone language program for those who want to understand casual Italian.
Like Scaramucci, I come from a large Italian family. Both of our grandfathers came to his country around the same time. My grandfather and grandmother on my mother’s side were from the same village in Sicily (my name is from the Irish side of my father). There is indeed a “problem of translation” that occurs when outsiders come into an Italian family. When I first took my wife Leslie to meet my family in Chicago, she witnessed a fight between my mother and one of my sisters in which my sister Angela told her kids to “say goodbye to your grandmother,” since they would never see her again. Leslie was almost in tears and asked me to “do something.”
At first I was confused and realized she was referring to the argument. I explained that by evening they would be at the kitchen table having coffee. They were.