Linguists and scholars agree: the Florentine dialect can be considered the origin of the Italian language. Thanks to writers and poets like Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, Francesco Petrarca and Alessandro Manzoni, the Florentine dialect became the peninsula's lingua franca when Italy united in 1861. However, not all of the Florentine vocabulary made it into the Italian dictionary, and there are several words and phrases that you will hear only in Florence and the surrounding area. Florentines tend to express themselves in a joking, teasing manner, but they'll be the first to tell you that their humor can be biting and sharp. Though their wit can often seem cynical, the aim is to get to the heart of the issue, to come into contact with the true personality of the person in front of you, to provoke benevolently among friends and to stimulate the intellect with constant banter. This is especially evident in the Tuscan tradition of giving nicknames to each other by homing in on a person's defects and habits, but also his or her good points. Thus a chubby colleague becomes Gommone (Inner tube), your friend who failed math every year is christened Pita (for Pythagoras), the girl with no neck is called Giraffa, and your bowlegged cousin is Parentesi (Parenthesis).