by Melinda Gallo

Nicknames and terms of endearment

I'm not opposed to nicknames; however, I don't like being called anything but my own first name. My niece, however, has a nickname for me that I love, which is "Mimi," but it's reserved for her. When I lived in England, almost everyone I knew called me "Mel," which I hated. It must have been a cultural thing since they took the first syllable of almost every woman's name as their nickname. "Sally" would become "Sal" and "Natalie" would be "Nat."

In Italy, I don't necessarily have a nickname, except one of my friends does call me "Melie," but I'm hoping she'll grow out of it because I don't like what it rhymes with. My name is quite easy to say for Italians; they even have a brand of apples with my name. And, I usually tell people, "come la mela" after I tell them my name. I generally get a nice smile afterwards.

The general saying, "Ciao bella," is used quite a lot in Italy. Many of my friends use that one, but also a few other variations. A few say, "Ciao cara." Debora usually says, "Ciao chicca!" which is its Florentine equivalent, I believe. Marta says, "Ciao tesoro!" which is another variation although tesoro means treasure, but they use it like we do, "honey" or "dear." Men seem to think of me a little differently. My Florentine ex-boyfriend (whom we haven't seen again since we moved here) still said, "Ciao piccina!" to me when we saw him last year. And my friend Simone, almost always says "Ciao bellina!" They always seem to use words that end with "ina," meaning little as if I were a stuffed animal or child.

All in all, the terms of endearment are very nice even though their meanings are a bit lost. I mean, they're not really saying "Hi beautiful", they're just saying a word after ciao instead of my name, which is quite friendly and I like it.

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