“Il diritto di mugugno”: the sacrosanct right of complaining in Genoa


In yesterday’s post I talked about complaining of everything, a use that in Italy is very widespread, and not just from these days: even in latin there was an idiomatic expression called “Ius murmurandi“…the right of complain, precisely. But in my city, Genoa, it’s not just a use: it’s indeed a sacred thing. We have a proper dialect word for it, so much typical that in time it became used in the main italian language; we call it “mugugno“.

The verb “mugugnare” means not just only to complain, but to do it continously and kinda mumbling, most of the time without really meaning to seriously complain in a negative way. For example: my mom asks me to go to the shop to buy the milk —> I go to the shop, but mumbling. She has no doubts, even for a second, that I’ll go; it’s just a normal complaining. 🙂

In this use, my fellow citizens (and myself too) are masters. This is deeply rooted in time:  Genoa is a city by the sea, and in the past it was a very important and almighty Maritime Republic (talking about seamen, also it was the hometown of Christopher Columbus). Its mariners were very good, but there was a particularity: they were continously mumbling, complaining. So ship’s captains found a solution: when they were getting hired, they could choose between getting the job “with the mugugno right” or “without the mugugno right”. The first one was payed a bit less, but they could complain while working; the second payed more but they had to be silent.  It seems a lot of them were choosing the first solution, and I’m not really surprised of this 😉

Mugugno is a so typical thing of my city that when Stephen came here the first time I had to explain it to him, and so, since no english words have the exact same meaning, we coined a new, “italish” one: “mugugning“. Now between us we often use expressions like “Stop mugugning!“.

Who knows? Maybe after becoming part of the main italian language, this ligurian locution will start to be used in english too 😉

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One thought on ““Il diritto di mugugno”: the sacrosanct right of complaining in Genoa

  1. Pingback: Five things that make my “barbarian” boyfriend see me as the true barbarian ;) | Maettina

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