2020: XXII

‘Quicquero’, ‘Pappacone’ e ‘Zuche Zuche’: il nome del personaggio nel teatro di Antonio Petito

Paola Cantoni
Università “La Sapienza” di Roma

Pubblicato 2021-04-16

Parole chiave

  • Antonio Petito,
  • Neapolitan dialect theatre,
  • Neapolitan dialect,
  • autograph manuscript,
  • onomastics


The aim of this contribution is to investigate the names of characters in the theatrical scripts of Neapolitan playwright Antonio Petito (1822-1876), which reflect an evolution from the working class theater of Pulcinella to its middle class equivalent. Antonio Petito expresses his critical position towards the new emerging middle class by means of various linguistic strategies, including the names of the characters. These names are examined in the original manuscripts as well as in the ‘new’ autograph scripts that are being edited, compared with the old prints and with references to the nineteenth-century lexicography for the Neapolitan dialect. The ‘speaking names’ are essentially used as a comic device and are functional to the misunderstandings and verbal gags of his social satire theater. The ‘caricature names’ are a rich series, some of which refer to musicians and players, with a parodic intent towards middle-class theater and the eighteenth-century panorama. The names related to each character and to his/her physical appearance are important, as are the various ‘role-names’. On a linguistic level, I give some examples of epithet-names, some created starting from a dialect phraseological use that connotes the character, others deriving from a popular song. I then dwell on the strategies of verbal misunderstanding originating from a name and on the relationships between the name and the role of the characters, highlighting some constants relating to the roles and environment of the script.