The battle of the double consonants

In Venice, as in no other city in Italy, the names of the streets are written directly onto the walls of the buildings. The signs, black lettering on a white background, are known as nizioleti. The signs, which first appeared in the early nineteenth century, were thought to resemble small sheets. And as the Venetian word for a sheet is nizioli, the signs came to be known as nizioleti

The nizioleti soon deteriorate in Venice's damp sea air and need frequent repainting. In recent months such repainting has caused a bit of a stir, for the powers-that-be have taken, not only to repainting the signs, but also to 'correcting' the spelling. 
In Italian the word donzella, which means damsel, is spelt with two 'll's, but in Venetian it is spelt with only one 'l'. 

There are many other examples where the Italian language calls for two consonants, while Venetian is happy with one, eg. madon(n)eta, rughet(t)a, par(r)uc(c)het(t)a

The Venetian dialect is central to the identity of many Venetians and this italianisation of it has provoked much local resentment. Some people in the sestiere of San Polo have gone so far as to remove some of the offending letters with black spray paint.


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