Spanish Quarters and the influence of the Spanish language in Naples

Rua Catalana

Rua Catalana

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When you think of Naples, you cannot perceive the analogies with the Spanish culture. Everywhere in the city, there is a little bit of that heat and joy that are typical of Spain. Did you know, for example that some of the words we use everyday in Neapolitan dialect actually come from Spanish language? And did you know that the Spanish Quarters take their name from it as well? Yes, our cheerful dialect can be definetely considered the “cousin” of the most harmonious, colourful and crazy language. Let’s find out why!

The Spanish Quarters

Walking downtown Naples, it is impossible not to have a walk inside these peculiar quarters, better known as“Spanish Quarters”.  Their name refers to the Spanish garrisons who, in the 16th century, used to find refuge before going on another front; and also for the troops hosted by the spanish viceroy Don Pedro De Toledo, who ordered to create the quarter in 1536. He set himself up in the city in 1533, and immediately started to plan a restoration project on the lifestyle of the city. Here they are, this way,  the current quarters, which represent the most folkloric part of the city. Everywhere, as a matter of fact, you can find small shops, restoration points, open-air markets, but also some little and dark alleys characterized by some large staircases which are everyday photographed by those who pass through there.

Spanish-Neapolitan: an historical bond

Neapolitan is a language full of hispanism, and this is due to the fact that the penetration of the calques from Spanish language merged around the 16th and 17th centuries, with the Angioin and the Aragonese domination. Naples at that time was very much influenced by it, that also into grammar we still preserve that contamination.

Spanish-Neapolitan: an historical bond

Neapolitan is a language full of hispanism, and this is due to the fact that the penetration of the calques from Spanish language merged around the 16th and 17th centuries, with the Angioin and the Aragonese domination. Naples at that time was very much influenced by it, that also into grammar we still preserve that contamination. 

Examples of words from Spanish

Some of the calquesderived from Spanish are to be find in words such as:

  • “muglier”, which comes from “mujer”;
  • “cerasa”, from “cereza”;
  • “cammisa”, from “camisa”;
  • “palomma”, from “paloma”;
  • “aier”, from “ajer” ;
  • “buffettone” , from “bofeton”;

and also in verbs like:

  • “stare”, from “estar”;
  • “tenere”, from “tener”;
  • “picchiare”from “pegar”;
  • “còsere”, from “coser”;  
  • “assettarsi”, from “sentarse” ;

and so on. Recently, the Neapolitan blogger Luca Delgado drew up a list of words from Spanish to Neapolitan, which is represented by this funny image: the influences of Spanish on Neapolitan language

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Chiara De Filippo

Appassionata di viaggi, musica e libri, la scrittura è sempre stata una fonte di ispirazione. Laureata in lingue, nel 2015 ha pubblicato la sua prima traduzione letteraria dall’inglese all’italiano del romanzo ‘Alice Underground’, per la casa editrice Montecovello.

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