In Italian, it seems that some objects are named according to what they do. A verb shmushed together with a noun is a familiar form. Asciugamano, for example, is a dries-the-hand, a towel. Likewise, an asciugacapelli is a dries-the-hair, a hair-dryer. And the marketing men have chosen to call Italian kitchen paper towel asciugatutto, which is perfectly pertinent, I guess - tutto means everything.
Then there is the good old aspiropolvere, the sucks-up-dust, the vacuum cleaner – much abused in this house in the days of builders’ dust everywhere. In fact, I managed to kill stone dead three vacuum cleaners in the course of a single year (one, a delicate pink item, clearly unsuited to the rigors of a house in mid-renovation, caught fire in spectacular fashion one day in my frenzy to clean up prior to the arrival of our first house guests). After the third was laid to rest (vacuum cleaner, not house guest) we bought an aspirotutto, a sucks-up-everything - a dustbin with a motor and a tube attached. And it does, really, suck up everything, including stray corks, socks and teddy bears. I haven’t tried small children yet, but there’s always the possibility if they continue to find switching it off in mid-vacuum entertaining…
Indoors, there are the tagliaunghie (cuts-the-nails), the tagliacarte (cuts-the-paper) and the object lying undisturbed in the dust on the mantelpiece since M. (supposedly) gave up smoking, the tagliasigari (cuts-the-cigars).
Outdoors, we find the taglialegna (cuts-the-wood), the tagliaboschi (cuts-the-woods) and the tagliafili (not a son chopper, but a cuts-the-wire). Venture beyond the tranquil confines of Carmine Superiore as far afield as Milan (God-help-me) and you will need to take care lest you fall prey to a tagliaborse (cuts-the-purse), the Italian pickpocket.
But what if people also had such labels? What if, in the immortal words of the Ronseal adverts, we all did what it says on our tin?
AJ would of course be labelled mangianiente – eats-nothing (see November 2007, Parenting Problem - can you help?).
And B would likewise be labelled mangiatutto – eats-everything.
M. would have a wide variety of labels and none of them would do him justice, although perhaps cucinatutto (cooks-everything) would be a good start, and portatutto (carries-everything) would run a close second.
Well, she would have a great big label on her saying puliscepoupou (pulire = to clean). And, what with AJ's newfound love of hotching his full potty around the kitchen, B and her teething tummy, the chickens and the un-house-trainable housecats, you can be sure she spends most of her time doing exactly what it says on the tin.
Tell me, though, what would it say on YOUR tin?