“Italy, this is the apocalypse,” was the headline in the country’s leading sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport on Tuesday morning [14 Nov.], perhaps an understandable reaction for a nation whose passion for football is so great that the same publication concluded that “a love so great must be reserved for other things [than the World Cup]”.
La Gazzetta dello Sport, as quoted in the GuardianWhich reminds me of the word gazette's derivation; to quote Etymonline
"newspaper," c. 1600, from French (16c.), from Italian , Venetian dialectal "newspaper," also the name of a small copper coin, literally "little magpie," from ; applied to the monthly newspaper () published in Venice by the government, either from its price or its association with the bird (typical of false chatter),
Or both, I would surmise. I can imagine some Venetian satirist greeting the first edition of the gazeta de la novità making a punning reference not only to its price but also to its vapidness.Which seems a strangely prescient reference to Twitter. :-) Anyway; football...
In January 2011, Science Daily reported a Mumbai study:
According to recent research the color, shape, taste and even name of a tablet or pill can have an effect on how patients feel about their medication. Choose an appropriate combination and the placebo effect gives the pill a boost, improves outcomes and might even reduce side effects. Now, researchers at the University of Bombay, New Mumbai, India, have surveyed users of over-the-counter (OTC) medication to find out just how much the color of a tablet influences patient choice.Football.... I'm getting there. Stay with me:
Three years later, The Atlantic reported
...Blue pills, contrary to what Breaking Bad may have you believe, act best as sedatives....
When researchers take culture into account, things get a bit more complicated. For instance, the sedative power of blue doesn’t work on Italian men. The scientists who discovered this anomaly think it’s due to ‘gli Azzuri’ (the Blues), Italy’s national soccer team—because they associate the color blue with the drama of a match, it actually gets their adrenaline pumpingBut this was not a novel phenomenon. The sedative effect of blue in particular was reported in The Lancet in 1972. (The Placebo Effect, in general, of course, had already been in regular use by shamans and witch-doctors and faith healers for thousands of years.)
A recent Radiolab programme on Radio 4 Extra brought this to my attention;18 minutes into the piece, this blue/sedative correspondence is discussed. I have to admit that I took agin the interviewee, possibly because he gave gli Azurri a /ʒ/, no doubt because of what we call in the trade L1-interference: he transferred the /ʒ/ of his English "azure " to the unsuspecting (and undeserving) Italian word. But what aggravated my response to this minor barbarism was his arrogating to himself this observation. When asked what causes this he says "Well, I'm not really sure [sic – his emphasis] but my speculation is...[Azurri idea]". By "my speculation", of course, he means "the speculation of the authors of a research paper written when I was still wet behind the ears".
But what may indeed be his speculation is the unnecessary and irrelevant gilding of the lily; Italian women aren't affected because of their devotion to the Virgin Mary, who is traditionally depicted in blue, so it makes Italian women feel calm...
WHA...? Millions of women in Catholic countries supposedly have this same association; so why should the Italians be any different?..
<digression>Maybe, because Italian society is painfully patriarchal (with women doing the cleaning and cooking and washing and child-rearing while their menfolk slump in front of the football) they just don't have the time to be that bothered about gli Azurri.
That claim was made over a background that featured a recording of Ave Maria [Schubert‘s], which reminded me of a recent ad I heard for Aled Jones's latest album, which has him singing both with his son and with his younger self. And in the words Pleni sunt coeli et terra I noticed with grim resignation that the successful present-day tenor has lapsed into the lazy /eɪ/ diphthong in both the first and the third words, in regrettable contrast to his younger self (with the choir master's voice no doubt still ringing in his ears) singing a pure monophthong.
But if women all over the world are affected in the same way by the colour of tranquilizers, why bring the Virgin Mary into it at all? Besides, I'm not sure I buy the whole football thing. Are French fans any less fanatical about their support for les Bleus? Still, it's interesting.
And the Italians (not sure it's just the men) are certainly... distraught [I don't think that's an overstatement] about the exit of lgi Azurri from the World Cup – Blexit?
- Showing concern about lines of communication, and getting tooled up. (8)
- Set a trap with son for performers of fandango or tarantella?. (9)
Update: 2017.11.16.22:35 – Specified the composer of that Ave Maria setting.