George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Sep 6 15:01:12 UTC 2001

A cartoon by Bill Gallo in the [NY] Daily News of August 15, 2001
criticizes the ineptitude shown by baseball players when they
fight.  ". . . since neither guy really knows how to fight, this winds
up as an ugly wrestling match.  ***  Nobody likes this scene -- This
silly nonsense of ballplayers makin' gaf-fones [sic] of themselves.
But, guys, if you must fight, at least learn how to do it right."

My wife has picked up the word that Gallo renders "gaf-fone" from her
particular friend, a woman from Calabria.  My wife hears it
as "gavone".  I have checked seveal Italian dictionaries, including the
Cambridge Italian-English, the Grande Dizionario della Lingua Italiana,
UTET's dictionary of Italian dialects and Rohlfs' dictionary of
Calabrian, but have not found it under either gaffone or gavone.

The word means "fool".

Does the fact that Gallo uses the word without explanation mean that it
has entered at least general New York English, or is he relying on the
pretty clear context to define it?


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African
Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

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