Italians are just the greatest

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Overheard in Latin American Civilization 1:


Professor Caterina Pizzigoni, who is adorable and Italian and sometimes has trouble with English words and concepts, shows a slide of a man holding a rooster.

Caterina: “What do you think the man is doing with the cock?”

[Scattered laughter]

Smartass in the front: “He appears to be stroking it.”

[More laughter. Pause]

Caterina: “Do you know why he is stroking the cock?”

[Class explodes]



  1. missed it  

    ahahah i missed that class damn

  2. there  

    i was there...what made it even funnier was that pizzigoni's parents were there that day to see her teach...but she said they didn't speak much english.

  3. Dems / CR Debate  


  4. She can't be

    that much of a ditz, can she?

    I think that would break some threshold for adorableness

  5. nope  

    She's not a ditz at all--she just hasn't completely mastered English to the point of understanding all sexual innuendo. It was pretty hilarious, but I also kind of felt bad for her because she probably had no idea why everyone was cracking up.

  6. hey bwog  

    bwog, please talk to your barnard friends and get the whole email, but you have to check this out. they sent the girls across broadway a link to a fire safety video that is hilarious

  7. aww  

    this is the cutest thing ever.

  8. luis  

    This is incredibly dorky of me but... I do now need to know why the man was stroking the cock.

  9. in class  

    The cock/rooster was a sign of prosperity. The man was a colonist in Latin America and so the rooster's presence in the painting implies wealth.

    It's also worth noting that she went on to say a few more things about the cock that caused much merriment...

  10. JDS  

    Caterina's explanation of the slide was:

    "They wanted the officials back in Spain to see that, in the New Lands, people used cocks for more than just cockfighting."

    At this point, all the TA's were looking at each other and shaking their heads in disbelief...

  11. she's so beautiful  

    that caterina pizzigoni she is. (no, i will not make any jokes about cocks.) also, she went to school in england, so i'm sure her english is better than her american sland.

    • Alum

      Learning English in the UK may actually make understanding American slang harder rather than easier. I have an Italian friend who learned English in the UK and had similar (and similarly funny) problems with accidental innuendo after she moved to the US as an adult.

  12. meh


    sort of want

    you definitely need higher 'so beautiful' standards though

  13. smartass  

    = david shimel

  14. gfh  

    uhh cock means the same thing we take it to mean in england so no excuses there

  15. she does struggle

    with English quite a bit in general and slang even more so but she is so awesome and nice, even if she overdoes the emailing a bit and often doesn't quite get how the American university system works. I wish that I were more interested in her subject so that I could continue to take classes with her.

    If she ever decided to get out of academia, I think she should become a personal stylist. I would certainly let her pick out my outfits.

    In short: occasionally misguided, always awesome.

  16. russka

    you don't even have to be a non-native speaker to make terrible faux-pas like this. One of the five W's (who what when etc.) in Russian is kak, pronounced just like cock, however, it's used in a slightly different way than in English. In an attempt to explain to us how we should use this word, my American Russian teacher said, "You should almost always use kak, Russians love kak." Hilarity, blushing, and embarrassment ensued.

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