-cento

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In subjects like Art History - less often 'straight' History - and others where the discussion of style is common, you may well find a word ending in -cento, or an adjectival equivalent -centesco. In English, the usual practice is to use a -cento word as both noun and adjective; it may seem affected to use the -esco words that are normal in Italian. Such words are Italian, and refer to centuries. Confusingly, the usage is different from native English practice: where we talk of the period 1800-1899 as the nineteenth century, Italians refer to the same hundred years as the ottocento, or the '[one thousand and] eight hundreds'. So one who speaks Italian, wishes to be thought of as speaking Italian, or who has become used to the usage in Art History might describe a piece of furniture, for example, as ottocento, or '[one thousand and] eight hundred'. Ottocentesco, on the other hand, would mean 'in the nineteenth century style', or 'nineteenth century-ish'.

  • Notice that in all of these, the pronunciation follows the Italian rule: a -c- followed by an '-e-' or an '-i-' is pronounced like the English '-tch-' in words like 'itching' and 'catching' (IPA: /-tʃ-/; while before '-o-' (and '-a-' and '-u') it is like an English '-k-'. So


years English label Italian name (noun) Italian adjective 'in - style' Some
Famous names of the period (Literature & Art)
1301-1400 fourteenth century trecento
pron 'tray-TCHEN-to', IPA: /tre ˈtʃɛnt o/
trecentesco
'tray-tchen-TESK-o', IPA: /tre tʃɛnt ˈesk o/
Lit.: Dante, Boccaccio & Petrarch;
Art: Cimabue, Giotto, Duccio, Lorenzetti; Sienese school.
1401-1500 fifteenth century quattrocento
pron: kwatroh-TCHEN-to' IPA: /kwa tro ˈtʃɛnt o/
quattrocentesco
kwatroh-tchen-TESK-o' IPA: /kwa tro tʃɛnt ˈesk o/
Lit: della Mirandola;
Art: Ghiberti, Donatelllo in sculpture, &
Botticelli, della Robbia, della Francesca, Masaccio, Lippo Lippi, Botticelli, della Francesca, Mantegna in painting
1501-1600 sixteenth century cinquecento
pron: tcheen-kweh-TCHEN-to, IPA: /tʃiːn kwe ˈtʃɛnt to/
cinquecentesco
tcheen-kweh-tchen-TESC-o, IPA: /tʃiːn kwe tʃɛnt ˈtesk o/
Lit: Ariosto, Castiglione, Machiavelli. Tasso; Art: da Vinci, Rafael, Michelangelo (the 'High Renaissance)'; Cellini, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto; in Music Palestrina
1601-1700 seventeenth century seicento 'say-TCHENTo',
IPA: /seɪ ˈtʃɛnt o/
seicentesco
'say-tchent-ESK-o', IPA: /seɪ tʃɛnt ˈesk o/
Lit: Marino; Art Caravaggio, Bernini; in music, Monteverdi and Stradivari
1701-1800 eighteenth century settecento pron 'set-eh-TCHEN-to'
IPA: /se te ˈtʃɛnt o/
settecentesco IPA: /se te tʃɛnt ˈesk o/ Lit: Goldoni, Alfieri; Music: Vivaldi; Art
1801-1900 nineteenth century ottocento IPA: /ɒt o ˈtʃɛnt o/ ottocentesco IPA: /ɒt o tʃɛnt ˈesk o / Lit: Leopardi, Manzoni; Music:Verdi, Puccini, Rossini
1901-2000 twentieth century novecento
pron: NOV-eh-TCHENt-o, IPA: /nɒv e ˈtʃɛnt o/
novecentesco
nov-eh-tchent-ESK-o, IPA: /nɒv e tʃɛnt ˈesk o/
Lit: d'Annunzio, Calvino, Carlo Levi, Primo Levi, Lampedusa, Sciascia