Why is the movie La commare secca (Bertolucci, 1962), not La comare secca (1x m)? I see it translated into English as "The Grim Reaper", is that a standard meaning in some Italian variety for La commare secca? Or is it just a poetic new creation?


1 Answer 1


TL; DR: the title is not in Italian, rather in Romanesco.

The title of this movie is a reference to the sonnet Er tisico by Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli, which is also referred to in the last scene of the movie.

The reason of the different spelling is that Belli did not write poetry in Italian, but rather in Romanesco (the regional language around Rome). For various historical reasons, Romanesco is very similar to standard Italian but it is not quite identical. In particular it often tends to have a lot more geminate consonants, as in this case.

  • 1
    Side note: A more recent example of Romanesco is the pair of Netflix series by Zerocalcare, which are almost integrally in a mix of Romanesco and Italian. By and large the similarity means they are understandable to most Italians, but I know several people that needed subtitles, and even I have trouble following it from time to time...
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 7:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.