Not Nonno – Becoming American

So here’s the question that my cousins and I all fruitlessly discussed: Why did we call our Italian grandmothers “Nonnie” which is very close to “Nonna” or “Nonnina” – the Italian word for grandmother; but none of us called our Italian grandfathers “nonno”? We called them Grandpa and Pop. I had been thinking about this puzzle for some time, when it hit me. Grandpa is an American word. My grandpa was a very proud American. It would not do to have his grandkids calling him by an Italian name. Here he is with his youngest son Frank, who he called Sonny, proudly posing in front of his shiny new Buick. I know I’ll never get my question answered, but there he stands, looking confident, affluent, happy, and well, American. Even though he never lost his accent or his taste for Italian food and drink. He’s not nonno, he’s Thomas spelled English style with an “H” Torchia, my grandpa.

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8 responses to “Not Nonno – Becoming American”

  1. I think you got the right answer Mimi: in our culture while women were the worm fire of every home, entitle to keep the link with the family roots, men had to be the pioneers and find a better place for their beloved, so it was easier for them to embrace it as new home, especially if they were successful in providing better opportunities of life for their children. Then think of the word mother-tongue or mother language… In my family the storyteller is now a nonna…

  2. I had never though about that. I see that on TV and they all do the same thing. Interesting.
    Good painting.

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