Immediately upon Giuseppi's introduction, Rosy, who is Italian, went "How many of him are there?". That's because his name is obviously meant to be the Italian name Giuseppe, but the -i on the end makes it sound plural.
As Rosy had to painfully learn back when she was first learning the language, lots of English loanwords from Italian ended up with the masculine plural version of the word (ending in an -i) used as a singular, which is then further pluralized with an s. For example, ravioli and raviolis - the Italian singular is raviolo, and ravioli is already plural. Or salami and salamis - in Italian it's one salame and two salami. This phenomenon probably happened because most of these loanwords are food-related, and how often do you really talk about one raviolo? Some English-speaker must have asked, "What is this food?", and the answer was "Ravioli," and someone who didn't know the grammatical structure of Italian took the word to be a singular. Fair enough, even though Rosy gets a cramp every time she has to hear the word raviolis.
However, Giuseppi is not a food, and pluralizing a name is really weird...
Denise's suspicion is that the game developers went to Giuseppi's for pizza and didn't realize that, in that case, the restaurant was named after a last name.
Or, if this was an intentional switch, she bets that they altered the spelling to make absolutely sure you pronounced the ending right. If Denise had tried to pronounce Giuseppe before she learned any Italian with Rosy, she would have blubbed some ridiculous sounds in confusion over the "Giu" and then most likely left that last "e" as silent. The Sims crew didn't do anything to help an American like Denise pronounce the Giu right, but the important thing was that you get the right ending sound to make sure the name Giuseppi rhymes with Fonzie, who was an obvious inspiration for his character and design. Plus, because of the aforementioned pluralization phenomenon, to an American, words sound extra Italian when they end in -i, and the developers wanted to make it really clear that Giuseppi is of Italian descent.
Unless the plural thing was intentional. There might even be more than one Giuseppi. Depending on what you personally think is canon.
Thinking about it more, this naming choice can even make some in-universe sense. We doubt that this was planned by the developers, but it may also shed some insight on Giuseppi's family.
The name Giuseppe is very common in Southern Italy. This leads Rosy to think that Giuseppi is probably of Southern Italian heritage, and probably specifically from around Naples, given his Simlish accent and the fact that the majority of Italian-Americans in the New York area came from the Naples area - the other major origin would be Sicily, but that would give him a very different accent.
In-universe, the unusual spelling might be because his parents speak the language of Naples rather than official Italian, and since the so-called Italian "dialects" are primarily oral languages, which may not even have official written forms, Giuseppi's parents may have wanted to name him a name they knew how to pronounce, but not how to spell. So his parents possibly decided the spelling phonetically from dialect. The name Giuseppe, when spoken like in the Naples language and related languages, ends with a schwa, which is a very understated vowel. So, the vowel you want to pick to spell it in English is whatever your personal tastes dictate.
Another possibility is that his parents did not speak Italian at all, and it was his grandparents or someone further back who came from Italy. A common Southern Italian tradition is to name your children after your parents, and, if more names are needed, after another relative. So, it's possible that his parents ended up naming him after a grandparent without knowing how to spell the name. Or maybe, considered that he has four brothers and he talks as if they are older, that would make Giuseppi the fifth male child, and by then, all of the grandfathers' names have been exhausted... Maybe he was named after some uncle whose name his parents didn't even fully remember. Or maybe he got to be free from this tradition, and he was given a unique name that his parents also didn't know how to spell. We can imagine any of these possible scenarios being true for Giuseppi.
By the way, this explanation comes from someone named Rosangela. Yes, Rosy bears the burden of honoring both grandmas. At least her sacrifice was not in vain. Her younger sister gets to have a name all of her own.
So, this weird quirk of Giuseppi's name being spelt unusually can actually make perfect sense, from many different angles, all at the same time. With enough overthinking, we can make anything make sense.
A side benefit of the unique spelling of Giuseppi's name is that it is super easy to google for him -- much easier than trying to google for the series of games he appears in.
Mezzoalto seems to be a mash of the Italian singing terms "mezzo-soprano" and "contralto". This is probably as a reference to the TV show, The Sopranos, which first aired 1999-2007 (so it was still relevant when Bustin' Out came out in 2003) and is about the life and family of Tony Soprano, a fictional Italian-American mobster living in New Jersey. Denise has never seen this show, but it was a matter of local pride that some scenes were apparently shot in the neighborhoods around where she grew up.
To be honest, thinking about it... the last name of the Sopranos being Soprano is really... awful. It's just the singing term. Really? That's what they picked for the name of the character and the name of the show? When Denise first heard about it back in like 1999, she thought it was a reality TV show about a family of singers, proving that this was a bad idea. Obviously "soprano" was just like the first Italian-y word that popped into the creator's head, and we guess we are just lucky that the show wasn't called The Raviolis ✽.
In any case, Denise can imagine the Sims crew creating Giuseppi and trying to pick a name for him were all like, okay, we can joke on The Sopranos, but, dude, we can't just call him like, Contralto, we're better than that. Can't we like, at least mix two Italian words together? There we go, Mezzoalto, lol.
This mash of these singing terms happens to give Giuseppi's last name the literal meaning of "half-tall", which might just be coincidental. Giuseppi himself doesn't seem to be particularly short or anything. Unless it is just a little riff on the stereotype that Italians are short (and subverted by Giuseppi not being short).
Way back when, Rosy had first played this game in Italian, and was surprised when we started playing it together in English. She didn't remember Giuseppi's name being so unusual. That's because it hadn't been.
In the Italian localization, Giuseppi's name was changed to be just simply Giuseppe. There was no concern over the Italian-speaking audience knowing how to pronounce it, there's no strange implication that Giuseppi is pluralized, and there's no confusion caused by the name of a local pizzeria. Just regular normal Giuseppe.
Also, his last name was changed to simply Mezzo, avoiding the meaning of "half-tall". He's just... half. This doesn't read as if it has any particular meaning or as any sort of pun. It's just a reasonable name.
In Spanish, Giuseppi's name was localized to Giuseppi Ruedi. Our best guess is that it is a pun on rueda, or wheel, as a reference to his love for his van, with the ending changed to an 'i' for an Italian flair. But we're just guessing.
In French, Giuseppi's name was localized to Manuel Travos. We guess there's some French pun here, but we can't figure it out.
In German, Giuseppi's name was localized to Bruno Mezzoalto. We're not sure why they traded one Italian-y first name for another, and we wonder if it manages to be a German pun.
If you speak any of these languages and can shed any light as to why his name might have been changed in these ways or if there are any puns here, please let us know. Thanks!
- Rosy got a cramp at the idea.