Knowing your relative’s given name in his/her original language is very
important. Before you start searching old records, take the time to
determine the right name, including its correct spelling. The page
Sicilian and Italian Given Names covers conversion from
Sicilian to English names and from English to Sicilian names.
It was common for given names to be
shortened by family and friends. I avoid calling these shortened names
'nicknames', because nicknames in Sicily have a somewhat different
connotation. Say you have a friend whose name is Nicholas. You
might call him "Nick" for short, or "Fatty, if he's fat. In America,
both "Nick" and "Fatty" would be called nicknames. In
Sicily, the equivalent of Nicholas is Nicola, which could be shortened to "Nico".
But "Lo Grasso", meaning "the fat one" would be the person's "Ngiuria"
or nickname. See the page Sicilian
Below is a list of Sicilian/Italian given names
and the short versions of the names, with pronunciations The emphasized syllable is
shown in CAPITALS in this guide. Note that vowels in both the Sicilian
and Italian languages have the following
sounds: A is ah; E is eh (long
a); I is ee; O is oh (long
o), and U is oo (like the "oo" in "foot".. A, E, I, O,
U in Italian is ah, eh, ee, oh, oo!! The English
sound of I (long i as in eye) is given by the combination ai
in Sicilian or Italian. Sicilian/Italian have no letter "k", "y" or "w".
They have a letter written like "j", but this "j" is actually a form of the
letter "i", and is pronounced as we would pronounce "y" in English..
A variation of name treatment was to 'familiarize' them
with descriptive endings (suffixes). The most common of these was to
add the suffix "ino" (masculine or "ina" (feminine) to a name
to make it a diminutive: Angelino means "little
Angelo", Angelina means "little Angela"; Giuseppina
means "little Giuseppa". and so on. These diminutive names themselves
are then often "shortened", e.g. as Giuseppino, meaning
"little Giuseppe" gets shortened to Pino, etc. This is why,
below, you may see the short name Tina for Concetta:
Concetta morphs to Concettina, which is then shortened to Tina.
Another popular suffix
is "uzzo" ("uzzu" in Sicilian) or "uzza", a diminutive of endearment best
translated as "my dear little one": Mariuzza means "my
dear little Maria"; Tanuzzu means "my dear little
Gaetano", etc. The endings "uccio" and "uccia" are
variations. These and other suffixes may be applied to virtually
any name, but I have shown them below in selected cases.
NOTE: There is a difference between a contracted or
'short' name and a 'diminutive' name. 'Short'
refers to the length of the name. while
'diminutive' refers to the age or size of the person
named. Thus, short for Giuseppe is 'Pepe'.
A diminutive of Giuseppe meaning 'little
Giuseppe' would be 'Giuseppino'. However, more
commonly, Sicilians would say 'Peppino', which means
'little Pepe'. And then to complicate it further, they may
shorten that to simply 'Pino' ~ a shortening of a
diminutive of the short name for Giuseppe!
The tables below mostly show 'short' names, but a few diminutives and
endearments are also included.