Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A learned treatise on the word cazzo

Yesterday I watched Silvio Soldini's Days and Clouds (good movie, check it out) and it reminded me, after years of not residing in Italy, of the great prevalence of the word cazzo. It is a word that is almost as important as our glorious English "fuck," although it can never aspire to the role this small albeit great word has in our language. Nevertheless, I feel it is my duty to inform the non-Italian world of the wealth of expressiveness that can become yours if you master this versatile verbal feature.

Now. First of all, the literal meaning. It refers to the male appendage. You know. That.

The cazzo, not surprisingly, is often found in places where "fuck" would be found, as the two concepts are rather closely related. Let us examine the similarities in usage.

Che cazzo...? Ma che cazzo! What the fuck...? What the fuck! WTF.
Che cazzo fai/dici/vuoi? Cazzo fai...? What the fuck are you doing/saying/do you want?
Questo cazzo di macchina/computer/lavoro. 'sto cazzo di macchina... This fucking car/computer/job.
Levati dal cazzo (alternatively, dalle palle). Get the fuck out.
Francesi/danesi/coreani/donne/melanzane del cazzo. Fucking French/Danes/Koreans/women/eggplants.
Non ho capito un cazzo. I can't understand a fucking thing.
Cazzi tuoi. That's your fucking problem.
Non fa un cazzo tutto il giorno. She doesn't do a fucking thing all day.

But to say that the two terms are linguistically equivalent would be misleading. Note the following.

Cazzo, quanta gente! Holy shit, look how many people!
Testa di cazzo. Dumbass, dickhead.
Te lo metti sul cazzo. Up yours.
Non me ne frega un cazzo. I don't give a damn/a shit.
Fatti i cazzi tuoi. Mind your own goddamn business.
Cazzi vari. All kinds of shit.
Col cazzo che ci vado. Like hell I'm going.
Col cazzo che scherzava. Like hell he was kidding.

Certain persons who are conflicted about swearing will utilize similar-sounding euphemisms such as cavolo (literally, "cabbage.") But we know what they mean. The wimps. Cacchio is even more pathetic.

Other forms include the all-too-useful incazzato (a word that was made for Italy) which means "pissed off." You can (and you will if you live in Italy any amount of time) use the superlative incazzatissimo. The person who is prone to being incazzato is called incazzoso. If you are at all incazzoso, you should probably not live in the Bel Paese. Cazzate also enjoys widespread popularity, and means "bullshit."

If you have found this treatise lacking, or even in questionable taste: levati dal cazzo, trovati un altro cazzo di blog che qui m'incazzo sul serio, e poi sono cazzi amari. Ma che cazzo volete?