Our word this week, chiacchiere(kiahk-kieh-rai) is both pleasant and tasty, and it is also very much in line with the time of the year we are in, Carnevale. It is the plural form of chiacchiera, which comes from the verb chiacchierare, “to chat.” We started using both sometime in the 16th century.
Chiacchiera and chiacchierare likely have an onomatopoeic etymology, that is, they come from the sound we produce when we make the action of “chiacchierare,” just like in the case of the French noun-verb combo claque-claquer (the clapping of hands-to clap) or the English verb to clack.
The main meaning of chiacchiere, the one associated with the verb chiacchierare, is “chatter,” “small talk,” “talk,” but also “rumor.” For instance, we can say Niente chiacchiere, dobbiamo lavorare! (“No small talks, we have to work!”), but also Non credere a quelle storie, sono solo chiacchiere (“Don’t believe all those stories, they’re only rumors”).
There is another important meaning of chiacchiere we must mention, especially this time of the year: indeed, chiacchiere are those as-light-as-a-feather and crunchy deep-fried cookies typical of the Italian Carnevale. We make them everywhere, from North to South, but they change name! You may know them as chiacchiere of course, but also as bugie, frappe, cenci, crostoli, cunchiell’ and even merveilles in Valle d’Aosta and maraviglias in Sardinia. Chiacchiere is, perhaps, the most common epithet, and it originates, legends say, from a time when Queen Margherita of Savoia (yes, the same as the pizza!) asked her pastry chef, Neapolitan Raffaele Esposito, to prepare a special treat for her and a group of friends. He came out with these cloud-like delicacies, which were, indeed, as light as chiacchiere with friends.
- Abbiamo solo fatto quattro chiacchiere
- We’ve just had a chat
- A Carnevale si mangiano chiacchiere da Nord a Sud!
- From North to South, we eat chiacchiere for Carnevale!
- Ci sono delle chiacchiere in giro, dicono che potrebbe avere una promozione
- There are some rumors saying she may get a promotion