Eh Cumpari?

As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
Post Reply
darkerhorse
Master
Master
Posts: 1587
Joined: 11 Jun 2020, 18:31

Eh Cumpari?

Post by darkerhorse »

Anyone have a relative who was referred to as someone's cumpari?

If so, what was their relationship like?

A distant relative of my generation suggested a particular person might have been my grandfather's cumpari, but no one is alive to confirm it or to explain it.

My grandfather and his alleged cumpari were seven years apart in age. They happen to have the same first and last names, and were from the same town in Sicily. I can't find any blood relationship between them, as I was able to check back several generations. However, they were related to each other by marriage - my grandfather's three uncles married the other man's three aunts - so they were sorta cousins by marriage.

They came over together on the same boat, shared the same address in America for a few years early on, my grandparents were godparents to the man's first son, and the man's second son became a priest and read prayers at my grandfather's funeral.

I know they were close friends and the man was always described as family, as being on my grandfather's side of the family. My father sometimes stopped at the man's store to say hello on our way to visit relatives nearby.

Does this sound like a cumpari?
User avatar
MarcuccioV
Master
Master
Posts: 887
Joined: 11 Jan 2021, 17:49
Location: West Hills, CA USA

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by MarcuccioV »

It's kind of confusing, but in our family here in CA it referred to a family with a Godparent or Godchild. We never used Padrino or Madrina, instead we said "compare" or "comare" (our spellings).

My mom was Madrina to a couple's daughter (the mother was from my grandparent's town of Valmontone, her husband from Tivioli & both lived in Detroit prior to relocating in L.A.) & the Padrino was a friend from Detroit Fromt Sant'Elia (Frosinone) & his wife whose parents were from L'Aquila. The 2 couples were always referred to as "Compare Bert (Unberto) & Comare Vera and Compare Tony (Antonio) & Comare Lee (Lizia).

I recall my grandmother referring to neighbors in Detroit by the terms, but I didn't know anything about them. It's possible they were distant relatives, neighbors, or even just other immigrants from the same town or environs.

It IS an interesting question -- I always thought of it as more of a "good friend" than a relation. Just my experience...
Mark

If you ignore your foundation, your house will eventually collapse...
darkerhorse
Master
Master
Posts: 1587
Joined: 11 Jun 2020, 18:31

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by darkerhorse »

I used to think it was only used for a godfather/godson relationship, usually of different generations, but I've since heard it could be for close friends of the same generation. Today, they would say BFF.

Of course, my grandfather became godfather to the other man's son but I think that was just incidental to their relationship which probably existed from the time they were youngsters back in the old country.
darkerhorse
Master
Master
Posts: 1587
Joined: 11 Jun 2020, 18:31

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by darkerhorse »

I don't ever recall hearing terms like cumpari or padrone used in my family.
User avatar
MarcuccioV
Master
Master
Posts: 887
Joined: 11 Jan 2021, 17:49
Location: West Hills, CA USA

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by MarcuccioV »

darkerhorse wrote: 15 Sep 2021, 04:08 I used to think it was only used for a godfather/godson relationship, usually of different generations, but I've since heard it could be for close friends of the same generation. Today, they would say BFF.

Of course, my grandfather became godfather to the other man's son but I think that was just incidental to their relationship which probably existed from the time they were youngsters back in the old country.
Funny you mention BFF. My BFF (also brother-in-law to one of my cousins) and I refer to each other by the term. I had forgotten about that.

It's most likely a "term of endearment" that can take various forms & didn't necessarily have a specific meaning, or it was simply corrupted & became regional "slang"...
Mark

If you ignore your foundation, your house will eventually collapse...
User avatar
PippoM
Master
Master
Posts: 4320
Joined: 25 Aug 2004, 00:00
Location: Roma, Italia
Contact:

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by PippoM »

Hello! From my Italian (Lazio and Campania) point of view, I can say it would literally mean a godparent/godson relation. But in villages this relation was widely extended. I mean, my "compare" also is my siblings' compare, and his wife is "comare" for all of the family. But also his parents would be compare and comare for my family. And also, my parents would be compari for my compari's children. So, you can understand that, in a society with so many children, like 70 or 100 years ago, in small centers, everybody could be "compare" of someone else. What was important, was the sense of affection and respect towards the people you had a good relation with.
I hope I've been able to explain...
Giuseppe "Pippo" Moccaldi

Certificate requests and genealogical researches in Italy.
Translation of your (old) documents and letters.
Legal assistance in Italy for your Italian citizenship.
darkerhorse
Master
Master
Posts: 1587
Joined: 11 Jun 2020, 18:31

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by darkerhorse »

Pippo, thank for your answer.

Does what you said apply to Madre Sicilia too?
User avatar
PippoM
Master
Master
Posts: 4320
Joined: 25 Aug 2004, 00:00
Location: Roma, Italia
Contact:

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by PippoM »

This is what I've found about Sicily:

"Come si può facilmente intuire il significato letterale del termine è compare ma in Sicilia viene utilizzato in maniera generica e informale per salutare un amico, un conoscente o addirittura uno sconosciuto con cui si vuole stabilire un rapporto o entrare in confidenza."

As you can easily understand the literal meaning of the word is "compare (godfather)", but in Sicily, it is used generically and casually to salute a friend, an acquaintance, or even a stranger, you want to establish a relationship or become familiar with.

So, it's used in a broader sense than in other parts of Italy.
Giuseppe "Pippo" Moccaldi

Certificate requests and genealogical researches in Italy.
Translation of your (old) documents and letters.
Legal assistance in Italy for your Italian citizenship.
darkerhorse
Master
Master
Posts: 1587
Joined: 11 Jun 2020, 18:31

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by darkerhorse »

Thanks.
greglam
Rookie
Rookie
Posts: 27
Joined: 02 Jun 2021, 19:57
Location: Columbus, Ohio

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by greglam »

I might be very much mistaken, but, I was always under the impression that "Goomba" as used here in the U.S. was an Americanization of "compare" and used sort of the same as "paesan". But, also, that "compare" and "comare" are Godfather and Godmother. I've never heard either of them used in other contexts. For personal examples, one of my Dad's first cousins and his wife are my youngest sister's Godparents, and they have always been "compare e comare". He is also my Confirmation sponsor and I took his name as my Confirmation name, Angelo, and since then I have always considered him my Godfather (since my actual Baptismal godfather was an a-hole whom I never spoke to much after I was 6 or 7 years old), and I have referred to him since as "Coompba". Sort of an Americanized mishmash of "Compare" and "Goomba". Allora...
User avatar
joetucciarone
Elite
Elite
Posts: 426
Joined: 03 Jun 2012, 22:28
Location: Cocoa, Florida

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by joetucciarone »

I think you guys are right. Here's what the Urban Dictionary says:

"Goomba is the phonetic spelling of the term "cumpà", which is the way people from Southern Italy used to pronounce the word "compare", that is "godfather". From the original sense it was gradually extended to mean a friend, a partner, etc."
greglam
Rookie
Rookie
Posts: 27
Joined: 02 Jun 2021, 19:57
Location: Columbus, Ohio

Re: Eh Cumpari?

Post by greglam »

joetucciarone wrote: 19 Oct 2021, 16:48 I think you guys are right. Here's what the Urban Dictionary says:

"Goomba is the phonetic spelling of the term "cumpà", which is the way people from Southern Italy used to pronounce the word "compare", that is "godfather". From the original sense it was gradually extended to mean a friend, a partner, etc."
And there you have it. Thanks, Joe!
Post Reply