A mouthful, a mouthing. Also a word used when one is about to tell a thing and knows not what it is, or that a scholar would feign read his lesson and cannot, and we by some sign or voice would let him know that is out, and says he wots not what, we use to say Boccata, as in English, Tush, yea in my other hose, jump as Germans lips, and such other phrases.What a mouthful! In defense of Florio’s verbosity, this definition is a significant improvement from the 1598 edition, which includes “you are as wise as a Waltam’s calf” as an acceptable alternative to “mouthful.” I hesitate to recommend the 1598 edition in fear that, if you did in fact call someone as wise as a Waltam’s calf, you might be accused of being behind the times. To avoid the unpardonable blunder of outmoded usage, the updated 1611 edition is the only way to go—and, what’s more, it comes with a complete guide to Italian grammar, which Florio borrowed (plagiarized) from his father! If it’s good enough for Queen Anne and the English cosmopolitan élite, it’s good enough for you. If you weren’t wondering how to say mouthful in Italian, Queen Anna’s New World of Words has 74,000 other fascinating Italian words, translated into beautiful, albeit long-winded, English.
John Florio, son of a Protestant Italian émigré during the Roman Inquisition, was a linguaphile, polyglot, translator, and high-profile language instructor who lived in London. His English translations of Montaigne’s Essays and Boccaccio’s Decameron from French and Italian are canonical, and his groundbreaking bilingual dictionaries confirmed his status as cultural mediator. He considered himself an Italian, though he never set foot on what today would be considered Italian soil. He snobbishly turned his nose up at English culture (not recommended for beginning travelers), which he considered barbaric and uncouth. Italian, in Florio’s day, was a sort of lingua franca, an all-access-pass to European culture and courtesy. Florio penned two dictionaries, two language pedagogy books (also recommended), and numerous translations, marking the beginnings of Italian language acquisition as a symbol of status and refinement in England. His dictionary is said to have influenced Shakespeare, who set many of his plays in Italy. Some scholars even suggest that Florio was Shakespeare’s ghostwriter—a rumor I encourage you to spread. Within the 700 pages of Florio’s tome (pocket-size edition not currently available), you’ll find risqué words collected from the Index of Forbidden Books, curse words, insults, numerous words to talk about dogs, food words (buon appetito!), idioms, and cultural insights: everything you need to keep your Italian hip… in a Baroque way. So the next time you need to say “mouthful” in Italian, check out Florio’s Queen Anna’s New World of Words, or just point and gesture like all the other tourists.
Rare PC1640.A2 F6 1611.
Posted for Joseph Waring '18