Why Avanti?

Avanti Camminanti is a mistranlation.

Although Spanish is our father’s native tongue, he picked up Italian as a young man when he emigrated to the Italian district in San Francisco, California.

While growing up, he would often try to teach my brother and I Italian. He would spend the day teaching us short, and often incorrect, sentences in Italian. Although he never succeeded in teaching us that language, I would always remember one thing he would always tell my brother and I when he wanted to encourage us:

Avanti camminanti.

Years later, while having a conversation with an elder Italian emigrant in Boston, I mentioned this phrase. The man found it funny. He explained that my father had confused the saying Avanti Comandante (“Come in, my general”) with what I can only assume to be a Spanish version of “Advance walker.”

This revelation caused me to love my father’s phrase even more.

Born from a mistranslation, the words Avanti Camminanti represent the triumph of improvisation over ability. Despite its flawed form, it succeeded in conveying a command, a plea that resounds beyond the limitations of its defects.

To us, Avanti Camminanti will always mean:

Traveler, keep on forward.

3 thoughts on “Why Avanti?

  1. In Spanish is “Adelante Caminante…” a phrase very well use to welcome people into your house in Mexico or at least in my home town in the north of Mexico, in the old days everyone walk to places…

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