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As it happens, I've been to Bergamo, and I vaguely remember some sort of traditional festival (dating to the middle ages) in the Città Alta. This is where I heard the etymology of Bergamo as Bergheim, which is entirely plausible given the history of the region and the interactions with i Tedeschi. (Note also that the emphasis is on the first syllable, consistent with German stress rules for "Bergheim", not the second as would be expected of a Latin derivation. Unfortunately, Italian is not as strict about placing accents as is Spanish. I distinctly remember tripping over this one. As I recall, bergamasco is stressed primarily on the third syllable, the derived term reverting to Italian stress rules. I don't know if Bergamask follows this, and Shakespeare is of no obvious help here since fools don't speak in verse.)

I certainly don't recall anyone there being particularly clumsy.

As to the meaning of "clumsy dance", this seems to draw from Shakespeare. The quotation from Midsummer Night's Dream is Bottom (one of the Fools) talking during the play-within-a-play of Pyramus and Thisbe. Note that Shakespeare says "Bergomask dance", not "bergamask" by itself as the name of a dance. Clearly he is using it as an adjective, and the modern usages on the web seem to accord with that (e.g., "Bergamask gastronomy").

I don't doubt the term came to be used in the sense of a clumsy dance, European rivalries being what they are, and by putting the word in Bottom's mouth Shakespeare could well be playing off of that. Several generations of dictionaries seem to think so, and who am I to doubt them. Nonetheless, I would like to see a quote supporting this directly before adding anything like the original definition given (itself apparently swiped from Open Dictionary). As it stands, there's ample support for the current definition.

As to spelling, Bergamask and Bergomask seem to be about equally prevalent, though the Italian supports the first spelling (or at least, the modern Italian spelling does). Given this, and given that Shakespeare uses Bergomask, I'll add that as an alternate spelling. -dmh 04:36, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)