I’ll bet you have never bumped into Tizio, Caio or Sempronio. Neither have I.
They’re not common Italian Christian names, are they? In fact, they began life as Titius et Gaius et Sempronius back in the Middle Ages when Latin was the lingua franca. And if you’re an English speaker, you probably know them better as Tom, Dick and Harry.
Yes, Tizio, Caio e Sempronio are used in Italian to describe a generic set of people. I have always found the phrase rather pejorative, looking down on the group as people of no note, so I seldom use it, but it is interesting to find out where they came from and what your Italian friend is saying when he mentions them.
T,C and S are said to have come from Bologna in the Middle Ages, where a jurist, Irnerio, wrote of ‘Titius et Gaius et Sempronius’, Latin names which morphed into the Italian Tizio, Caio e Sempronio.
You can use the phrase just as we do in English, for example: “Non mi piace parlare a voce troppo alta nei bar e nei ristorante. Non voglio che Tizio, Caio e Sempronio lo sappiano.” (I don’t like talking too loudly in bars and restaurants: I don’t want every Tom Dick and Harry knowing my knowing my business.)
I am grateful for this information to Jessica Lionnel, writing in The Local, the online Italian newspaper (https://www.thelocal.it/). She tells us: “You can also use Tizio alone to mean any one generic person rather than a group of generic people. It usually means ‘guy’: Il Tizio laggiù sta fumando. (The guy over there is smoking.)
You wont be any old Tizio, Caio or Sempronio,if you come on our unique Italian language course, where everyone is treated as someone special.
This really is a ‘course with a difference.’ Not only are there formal lessons on the vine verandah (some 20 hours in the week), but we also make trips and excursions to savour the natural beauty of Lunigiana, the area around the mill, to explore its history and culture, to sample its traditional foods – and above all, to meet the people, speak Italian, and practise what you’ve learned.
The Watermill has teamed up again with tutor Giulia Balestri for a week in which people can learn Italian in the most natural and enjoyable way. Your immersion into the language and culture of real Italians will be customised for you, to suit your curiosity and your interests, helping you to treasure everything you learn and make it a seamless part of who you are.
Here are comments from previous participants:
“A super language week: well organised giving us a taste of the ‘real Italy.’ Despite the disparity in ability our tutor managed to help all of us towards a better understanding and production of the Italian language. The lessons were fun, interactive and helped me enormously. The accommodation was great and the camaraderie which evolved was, I’m sure, due to your relaxed and welcoming approach to your guests.”
“I had a wonderful time on the language course and laughed so much! Our tutor was fantastic and designed a course that we could all follow at our own level, complete beginners to quite a bit more than complete beginners.”
12 – 19 October 2024 – still plenty of places
Learning Italian with the Italians
For more details on Giulia’s 2024 course, please visit the 2024 Tutor programme page.