Michael N. Marcus discusses writing, editing, design, publishing, language, culture, politics, food and other things.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Mamma mia! Nobody alliterates like the Italians
(above, Fiat Cinquecento/500)
Alliterations are very appealing. They show a bit of creativity in a tiny space--like haiku and Tweeting. They can be memorable and effective book titles and names for people and products. Even without an effort to be cute, a real name can be alliterative, like publisher Doubleday, General William Westmoreland, sing-alonger Mitch Miller and me--Michael Marcus. My brother Marshall and sister Meryl are alliterative, too. So are Mommy Marcus and my father--Mister Marcus. Mom's father was Dr. Jay Jacobs. One of my author buddies is Barbara Barth.
The United States is responsible for Blonde Bombshell Marilyn Monroe ("va-va-va-voom!"), Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, Piper Palin, Gordon Gekko, High Heavens, Blues Brothers, Baby Boomers (now becoming Senior Citizens), Social Security, Beach Blanket Bingo, Hamburger Helper, Big Bang, Big Box retailers like Circuit City, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Fortune Five hundred, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Beatle Bailey, Sad Sack, Roger Rabbit, GooGle, Mutated Monsters, Biker Babes, Sailor Suit, Derring-Do, Double-Dare, Nightly News, Swinging Singles, Sylvia Sidney, Moms Mabley, Motor Mouth, Bird Brain, Meow Mix, Corn on the Cob, Elephant Ears, Triple Treat, Ice Cream Cone, Denizens of the Deep, Cap'n Crunch, Dragon's Den, Tonka Truck, SuperSonic, Tony the Tiger, Fred Flintstone, Janis Joplin, Helen Hunt, Mad Max, Chuck E. Cheese, Krispy Kreme, Intel Inside, Pizza Parlor, Johnson and Johnson (sorry!), Minute Man, Minute Maid, Friendly Frost, Sweet Sixteen, Sin City, Seven Sisters, Star-Studded, SuperStar, the Seventh Seal, the Great Gatsby, Great Gildersleeve, Wild Women, Chevy Chase, the great White Way, Mad Men, Lady Levi's, Big Balls, Ball Breaker, Best Buy, Paypal, Palm Pilot, Pink Panther, Rocky Road, Coca-Cola, Boing-Boing, Party Pooper, Pig Pen, Piss-Poor, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Braves, Black and Beautiful, Crispy Critters, Colby College, Kurt Cobain, Killer Kowalski, Ku Klux Klan, Seven & Seven, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Weight Watchers, Wendell Wilkie, West Wing, Department of Defense, Ronald Reagan, Roy Rogers--King of the Cowboys, Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake, Chainsaw Charlie, Lucky Lindy, Janet Jackson, Holly Hunter, Martin Mull, Frankie Fontaine, Son of Sam, World Wrestling Entertainment, World Wildlife Foundation, Sex Star, Solar System, First Family, Family Feud, Ford Falcon, Toyota Tundra, Dodge Dart, Mercury Marauder, Mitsubishi Montero, Ferarri F-50, Olds Omega, Hudson Hornet, Master Mechanic, Family Physician, Family aFfair, Road Rage, Road Rash, Cool as a Cucumber, Crystal Clear, World War, World Wide Web, Wonderful World, Wild Wild West, Wild One, Clem Kadiddlehopper, Sid Caesar, Danny DeVito, Alcoholics Anonymous, Bra Burning, Vivid Video, Samantha Sterlyng, Savanna Samson and too many other other porn stars to list here.
The United Kingdom has given us Big Ben, Big Brother, Enery the Eighth, Herman's Hermits, Mannfred Mann, King Crimson, Merry Men, Peter Pan, Peter Piper's Pickled Peppers, MG Midget, and the Vauxhall Victor.
The Spanish are responsible for con carne.
From France, we get cherchez la femme, Brigitte Bardot, and the Franco-American Michelin Man.
Sweden was the source of the Saab Sonnett.
Germany was the location of Checkpoint Charlie (but it was named by English-speakers), and made the Volkswagen Vanagon.
But Italian--the most musical of languages--is il campione del mondo (the champion of the world) in alliteration.
My three favorites:
Mille Miglia (pronounced mee-luh meel-yuh) means "Thousand Miles," an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy from 1927 to 1957, with time out for Word War Two.
Cinecitta (pronounced cheena-cheeta) means "Cinema City," a huge movie studio in Rome founded by Mussolini in 1937 and used by Federico Fellini for La Dolce Vita and Satyricon. The studio was also used for "American" films including Gangs of New York.
Cinquecento (pronounced cheenkwuh-chento) means "500"--Fiat's popular minicar, first made in 1936, and due in the USA in late 2010.