Thursday, August 30, 2007

Word of the week: 'ndrangheta

What is the meaning of this strange-looking word? The 'ndrangheta (pronounced nDRAHNgetta, with a hard g sound) is the organized crime group based in Calabria, the toe of Italy, of which the beautiful coast is shown in the photo. Its etymology may be found in the Greek words for "good man," as the ancient Greeks had colonized southern Italy and left their mark.

This thriving syndicate is based on family ties even more than its Sicilian counterpart, Cosa Nostra, which sees it as a rival. As such, it has spread to various countries by means of immigration and recently came to the world's attention in sleepy mid-August due to a feud in Duisburg, Germany, which left six local Italians dead. The 'ndrangheta used to specialize in kidnappings but has modernized itself and now deals with money laundering, drugs (especially cocaine, which is big in Europe) and even "legitimate" businesses such as construction and restaurants.