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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 409

The literature dealing with it, in fact, is confined to one capital study by Dr. Arthur Livingston, 24 formerly of Columbia University, who says that other “American philologists have curiously disdained it.” Meanwhile, it has begun to produce, like Yiddish, an extensive literature, ranging in character and quality from such eloquent pieces as Giovanni Pascoli’s “Italy” to the Rabelaisian trifles of Carlo Ferrazzano. Ferrazzano shines in the composition of macchiette coloniali for the cheap Italian theatres in New York. The macchietta coloniale is an Americanized variety of the Neapolitan macchietta, which Dr. Livingston describes as “a character-sketch—etymologically, a character-‘daub’—most often constructed on rigorous canons of ‘ingenuity’: there must be a literal meaning, accompanied by a double sense, which in the nature of the tradition, inclines to be pornographic.” The macchietta was brought to New York by Edoardo Migliacci (Farfariello), purged of its purely Neapolitan materials, and so adapted to the comprehension of Italians from other parts of Italy. Farfariello wrote fully five hundred macchiette and Ferrazzano has probably written as many more; many of the latter have been printed. They are commonly in verse, with now and then a descent to prose. I take from Dr. Livingston’s study a specimen of the latter:
Ne sera dentro na barra americana dove il patrone era americano, lo visco era americano, la birra era americana, ce steva na ghenga de loffari tutti americani: solo io non ero americano; quanno a tutto nu mumento me mettono mmezzo e me dicettono: Alò spaghetti; iu mericano men? No! no! mi Italy men! Iu blacco enze. No, no! Iu laico chistu contri. No, no! Mi laico mio contry! Mi laico Italy! A questa punto me chiavaieno lo primo fait! “Dice: Orré for America!” Io tuosto: Orré for Italy! Un ato fait. “Dice: Orré for America!” Orré for Italy! N’ato fait e n ato fait, fino a che me facetteno addurmentare; ma però, orré for America nun o dicette!
Quanno me scietaie, me trovaie ncoppa lu marciepiedi cu nu pulizio vicino che diceva; Ghiroppe bomma! Io ancora stunato alluccaie: America nun gudde! Orré for Italy! Sapete li pulizio che facette? Mi arrestò!
Quanno fu la mattina, lu giorge mi dicette: Wazzo maro laste naite? Io risponette: No tocche nglese! “No? Tenne dollari.” E quello porco dello giorge nun scherzava, perché le diece pezze se le pigliaie!…
  Most of the Americanisms are obvious: barra for bar, visco for whisky, blacco enze for black-hand, laico for like, chistu for this,