Surname Book Review
AOur Italian Surnames@ by Joseph G. Fucilla, a Chicago native Italian, has written a most notable book on a subject which affect each one of us, since we all posses a surname, or in the matter of Italian genealogy, many surnames.
Signore Fucilla had his first publication back in 1949. Since then, the Genealogical Publishing Company of Baltimore, MD has reprinted this Aone of a kind@ book four times. I believe the contents will be of benefit to every Italian American who has a keen interest in learning the origin and meaning of the names contained in their family tree.
As with any journalistic work, everyone will not be happy for there are far too many Italian surnames to be dissected in one publication. But even if your particular name is absent from Fucilla=s research, you=ll get the general idea when analyzing your particular name or names.
So, without any further explanation, let=s delve into the details of this review without any additional hesitation.
This work really answers the age old question, AWhat=s in a name?@. As the chapters unfold, the author devotes considerable explanation of the full range of Italian surnames by type and kind, ie., pet names; kinship names; compound names; names of desirable and undesirable qualities; botanical names; topographical names; geographical names; bird, animal, fish, insect names; occupational names; object names, anatomical names; and miscellaneous names. He also has chapters on Italian given names; one on the evolution of surnames; the anglicization of Italian surnames in the United States; plus a variety of reference sources.
An examination of a few of the chapters reveals several very interesting facts. The author states that a second name, alias family or surname, originated in the early days of the Roman Empire.
The origin of the Adi@, Ade@ or Ad@ prefix means very simply.....of. The original Italians who acquired surnames, it=s known as patronymics, were thusly named, for example, Guiseppe di Alberto; Guiseppe, son of Alberto (Joseph son of Albert) and Giovanni d Pietro; Giovanni, son of Pietro (John, son of Peter.)
At one time, but now no longer true due to the dispersion of Italians from South to North in the country, the vowel endings; i,a,o,e, were representative of a particular area of Italy. For example, the Ai@ ending originated in the North and the Aa@ and Ao@ endings in the South, and the Ae@ vowel ending was originally predominant in Sicily.
Fucilla manages to cover a wide variety of name types in a clear yet professorial manner. The text is written in a very understandable style, yet it is based on extensive research in the field of onomatology.
The reader will surely find the chapters devoted to the Americanization of Italian surnames and the evolution of Italian names particularly fascinating. I personally found the chapter on compound names extremely interesting. Who would have known that the surname Caponinsacco originated with some ancient Italian who had his head in a sack. Maybe Sig. Caponinsacco was just plain dense?
The chapter on nicknames was especially interesting. These surnames, Fucilla calls them Adesirable and undesirable qualities@, contain a number of downright hilarious monikers. An example of a surname among the undesirable category of names is Perrupoto, a Calabrian name for one who has fallen of a cliff. I wonder if Sig. Perrupato survived?
The genealogist will particularly appreciate the last forty-five pages of the book. Professore Fucilla has listed ALL the surnames he has researched and referred to in his book..... and he has them listed alphabetically.
I highly recommend this marvelous publication both for the Italian genealogist and the student of onomatology. It truly is like nothing else that has ever been done before. It is worth the price, it lists for about $30.00 retail, but I paid one third less at Borders. Check out the major area book sellers or surf the internet. What a way to locate all the surnames on your family tree. You might even get a chuckle along the way.
© PIP Chapter 1, 2003 ~ Webmaster: LPRoots@yahoo.com ~ page last updated on Tuesday, April 22, 2003