Some words are inherently associated with poetic language. Ephemeral. Bucolic. Labyrinthine. Mellifluous. It’s possible to hear them in everyday conversations, but you’re more likely to run into them while reading Shakespeare or studying for a standardized test. They’re artistic, evocative, and specific. The Italian nottivago is one such word. Now, there is no perfect English translation of nottivago so, before I define it, let me provide a few examples of how the word is used:
Have you ever watched a time-lapse video where stars seem to sail across the night sky? Those stars are nottivago (le stelle nottivaghe).
Have you ever been scared, or seen someone get scared, by a bat suddenly flying out of the darkness? That bat is nottivago (il pipistrello nottivago).
Have you encountered either a spirit or a strong breeze floating through a haunted house in the middle of the night? Whether it was a ghost or the wind, both are nottivago (il fantasma nottivago o il vento nottivago).
Do you often stay up late for no particular reason? You might be un nottivago.
Nottivago means “of something that something wanders at night” or “a night-roamer.” Though it comes from the Latin word, noctivagus, it’s literally just the words for night (notte) and wandering (vagante) smashed together. Interestingly, the word is heavily tied to mythology and astronomy. Nottivago has been used to describe both the followers of Dionysus and the Chariot of Apollo as well as various constellations and comets. These associations provide the word with an otherworldly, distant, almost supernatural connotation – a bit like the English word “celestial.”
It's most common to see nottivago used as an adjective, but it’s also a noun for a person, animal, etc. who leads a kind of hazy, nocturnal lifestyle. However, the word nottambulo (nightwalker) is a better translation for the terms night owl or nighthawk.
So, let's say an Italian asked you the cliché “early bird or night owl” question. Even though nottambulo is the more traditional answer, you could respond with nottivago as well. The only issue with nottivago is that some Italians use nottivago as a euphemism for a prostitute and, while that’s totally fine and needs to be destigmatized, it’s not normally how people respond to the original question.
Why are you being called racist? Sorry just seeing this discourse
I'm being called racist because when the two (Radiotrickster and 6c6) were basically saying that they were tired of Molly and Arackniss being one-dimensional in the fandom, even though no one knows how they act because they have not been shown yet, and often being drawn white. I dared to speak up and say that Italians can be white. Yadda yadda, we got into argument because I felt like one of them lied to me about their roots, which seemed to have gotten resolved privately.
Next thing I know, they posted up a long "callout" and edited out their part of the DMs to make me seem racist. Although, if you ask me, they did it poorly. You can easily tell I'm responding to something, not just saying this shit for no reason. Anyway, yeah, all of that because I just said that the three could also easily be white, but not saying they couldn't be dark-skinned or even poc.
Now, they're trying to say white Italians don't exist and Italians themselves are poc. Idk.
so y'all know that bad trope that happens when a bilingual character is written by a non-bilingual author and they do that "oh it's hard to switch back sometimes" thing or just use random words from their other language when speaking to non-bilingual characters? i have realized,,,, i am the second one.
like, i'm not bilingual by any stretch, i barely speak english and it's my first and only language lol, but i am a quarter italian and my aunt spent a year in italy when she was in college, and speaks the language because of it, and, though i didn't realize it, she used a handful of italian words around me when i was growing up, and i still use some of them to this day, like, okay, example, y'all know chickpeas? garbanzo beans? yeah i always called them "ceci beans" until like,,,, literally two years ago? and it never occurred to me that ceci isn't an english word because i never wrote it down, and everyone i used it around figured it out from context, i guess? i still use ceci instead of chickpeas most of the time, i always just assumed it was another word for them. another example, when i was a kid and my aunt wanted me to like, walk faster and stop getting distracted by something every two steps she'd say "andiamo! andiamo, places to be." and again it never occurred to me that "andiamo" doesn't even sound like an english word! it's italian for "let's go", but like, i remember using it around my friends and again, not one of them ever questioned it, so like, i'm starting to wonder if my friends just, like, got used to me being "like that", or they just always figured it out from context, or if we were all young enough when i started using the words that they just assumed they were words they'd never heard, it's just like,,,, i decided to give this very specific quirk to a character in a current project of mine, and i'm trying to figure out to make it very clear to the audience that, no, i'm not a dumbass who doesn't know how to write bilingual characters, isabelle isn't bilingual, she's just half italian and her aunt integrated italian words into her vocabulary when she was young and they just stuck.
okay i got totally off track but like,,,, it's just a weird thing to think about like, i'm the closest to a shittily written bilingual character that exists in real life, so like, thanks zia, i guess.