Sunday, November 11, 2007

Word of the week: omerta'

Our word of the week is a very important one: omerta' (oh-mare-TAH). As you may know, this refers to the code of silence surrounding criminal activity, especially that of organized crime. But it is not specifically the silence of those involved in the crime itself, but more interestingly those not directly involved. What could be the motivation for this behavior? Fear? Cowardice? Secret complicity? One thing is sure: without them, evil could not thrive.

The great analyst of the phenomenon was the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia (SHAH-shah) (in the photo, looking unusually relaxed and smiling), one of my favorites.

The person who shows this behavior is called an omertoso (both a noun and an adjective).