In Day 3 Story 8 of the Decameron (Italian original), a prisoner in an abbey, who believes himself to be in purgatory, asks how far he is from his own country, and received the following reply:

“And how far,” said Ferondo, “may we be from our country?”
“Oh! ho!” returned the monk, “why, 'tis some miles clean out of shitrange.”

Disse allora Ferondo: “O quanto siam noi di lungi dalle nostre contrade?”
“Ohioh!” disse il monaco “sèvi di lungi delle miglia piú di be' la cacheremo.”

I have a few interrelated questions about the use of this term cacheremo, translated by Rigg as "shitrange":

  • What is the meaning of the word? Does it mean roughly that he's in a place where nobody "gives a shit" about him any more? Or is it simply a vulgar way of saying "very far away" (perhaps "shitrange" suggesting the range of flung faeces)?
  • How "bad" or vulgar would this word be considered, in its time? As far as I can tell, the Decameron doesn't shy away from talking about sex but uses euphemisms rather than vulgar language to do so. Would the word "cacheremo" be expected to shock readers in 14th-century Italy?
  • Given the answers to the above, what is the significance of using this word rather than another? Does it add humour to the story, or build the character of the monk in some way? Does it have any symbolic connection to Ferondo's real situation?


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