Thursday, 25 August 2011

Back from holiday

Italian lessons start again after holiday and to report the days spent on the mountain or the seaside...

Dove sei stato in vacanza?: where have you spent you holiday?
Ho passato le vacanze (ferie): I've spent my holiday

in montagna: on the mountain
al mare: on the seaside

Ferie/Vacanze: it is almost the same thing, the only difference (not always underlined) is that usually the word Ferie is used to indicate a pause during work.

Andare in vacanza:to go on holiday

The picture I've taken is from Lago di Ledro, a very nice place not far from Garda Lake, near the Alps. I really love mountain, probably because I live quite near the sea and when here it is very hot, all I can desire is a bit of cold breeze...

leave you with a song, hope you've enjoyed your holiday!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Language learning: two languages, two experiences

foto from Flickr

In my long journey as a language learner I've understood a couple of things; I've experienced it as a student, but also studied it. I started studying English when I was quite young (10 years old), and my teacher was Italian. With German, things were different. I started to study it when I was at University (20 years old), my teachers were mainly mother-tongue. These differences made me think about how I apprehended these two languages.

English at the beginning was totally a matter of fun! our teacher showed us cartoons, and then taught us some words and phrases. I can't remember any writing exercise during the first year. We learnt to say something and mainly how to use those phrases. Nothing about grammar or how to build up sentences. Then time for grammar came: present simple, Subject Verb Object structure, and so on... but only later. What we learnt first of all were Formulae. It was not important to learn the rule, but how to say things, because we need to spend time talking, somehow.

German came to a very different time of my life. After so many years at school there is something in your mind that tells you that the way to learn thing is to deeply understand them. Unfortunately that is not always true!
The first time my teacher came in class I was so scared! She started talking in German, only very few of us could understand what she was saying; I remember I thought something like: "How am I going to learn anything about it if she's not going to stop and explain us what she's saying?!" I was wrong; what they were trying to do was a total immersion in the language and also they tried to make us used with the sensation of not understanding each and every words they say.
Something in my mind was not helping me, because I wanted explanation, but actually I didn't need them.

The first thing is talking. That's why I started this new topic giving just phrases and words and not rules. I'll give some basic rules, if the time comes. In the meantime, stay tuned!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

sources and words

Writing academic essays in English, I've sometimes found it difficult to translate technical words. I mean those words that refers to a very specific meaning but sounds like other words. I'll make an example to be sure you can understand. Last week I was wondering how to translate "sensibile" from Italian to English, but I didn't mean the adjective (sensitive), but the substantive that indicates a particular musical note that in a scale risolves to a note one semitone higher. Putting just 'sensibile' on google translate or any other online translator I could not find the word I meant.

The solution is easy, anyway. If you don't have a specialized dictionary (which is a very good way to solve the problem, but it is quite difficult to have one specific for each and every semantic field!!) you can just go on wikipedia, and search in your own language the word you are interested in. Then, you can click on the list of languages on the left and what you get is the corresponding entry in English, so your perfect translation. Moreover, the complete entry makes you certain to be perfectly right.

Friday, 15 April 2011

I love you...or not?!

Thinking about the next lesson with a question in my mind: what is worth after greetings and presentation, what do you need to enter the Italian language?!
I could not find an answer, but I realized what will be the next lesson:

expressing feeling/sentimenti

No need to say that feelings are not to be translated, but what we can translate is the way to express them. A friend asked me about German language some days ago, we were discussing sound and so on... I was telling him that German is not that harsh to pronounce and he told me "How do you say 'I love you'?", "Ich liebe dich", "you see, it sounds better in Italian or Spanish..."
Probably, it is right, the sound of the whole expression is a bit harsh, let see the Italian for
I love you: ti amo; very easy, two words. Anyway, pay attention on how to use it! Any Italian mother-tongue speaker will tell you that this formula is used only to express your feeling to the man/woman you want to share your life with. You usually do not use it with friends, relatives, or any other similar context. If you want to express your loving feelings towards other people (brothers, sisters, friends, parents, and so on) say:
Ti voglio bene: very difficult to translate it is a mix of I care of you/I want the best for you. Unfortunately, you can hear it in combinations like: "Ti voglio bene, ma non ti amo"; that we could translate as: "I really care of you, but I don't love you". A polite, but very sad way to say that your feelings towards the other person are not so deep.

Anyway, thinking about it I realized also, that I actually use it in different ways... Just a couple of example... When a friend says or does something peculiar for me I could express my joy in that moment saying "ti amo!!" but clearly, it is an exaggeration that help to express how happy I am about it. Sometimes I can express my reproach for something bad that one cold have said, saying "ti amo anch'io!" (I love you too!), it is of course ironic, the meaning is more or less "Your reproach is too hard to me, but I understand what you are saying!". Here of course the way it is said express more than half of the meaning!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Shaking hands

Foto from Flickr

Today's Italian lesson:
Introducing- Presentazioni

Ciao, mi chiamo ...: Hi, my name's ... (informal, just to say your name, to make it formal, just change Ciao with Buongiorno)

Piacere di conoscerti/la: Nice to meet you/How do you do

Come ti chiami (inf)/ Come si chiama?: What's your name?( for a suitable answer see the first sentence)

E' stato un piacere parlare con te/lei: It's been a pleasure talking to you (inf/form).

It is quite usual among friends too shaking hands while you introduce somebody. Quite rarely you exchange kiss while introducing for the first time. It could happen among very young people (teen agers and so...), just a couple of kisses on cheeks.

Friday, 4 March 2011

to fly away?

foto from Flickr

I was reading The independent online, and on a lateral ad I saw these words!
I'd like to... In this very moment I'd like to fly away from here, from my "to dos" list, from my job duties, from my whole life... If you are asking yourselves (and even if you are not), yes, I've got a sort of idea of where to fly... and probably I don't even need a plane to go there...

But I'm here, and I feel I should find a way to stay here. It would be easier to escape, or it wouldn't... don't know...

there are so many things I don't know so far...

Friday, 18 February 2011

wondering.... surfing....

One of the best way to be serious in my "start again" could be making the same steps of the first time. Since my blogroll is not so updated, this must be a really effective starting point.
So the blog I signal today is very relate to my new topic, Italian Lessons, the url is

You can find language hints to discover Italian, but also, some little story on how we use the language. The comparison, of course, is with English language.
Italian habits and lifestyle are described in a very interesting and "colourful" way.
It defenitely deserve a chance, click and see it!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Flowers and memories

Foto from Flickr

Every time I see this flower I can't help but think of my Grandmother. She used to have one of those plants and she was so proud of it. She showed it to every body, made pictures... I don't know why she loved it so much, if you look at the flowers, they are peculiar, but you could say they are not so pretty. And she could explain to you every single piece, and the meaning of it, so to understand why it is called 'passion flower', and all the symbols of crucifixion...

I really think that she somehow 'loved' this plant and the great effect it gave to her garden, but I've never asked myself whether she loved this plant more than her granddaughters, we were for sure her favourite flowers.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Lesson Number One

Knowing the risks of my laziness, I decided to start a new topic. It is not a casual one, but the reason of it will be revealed a bit later...
This new topic is: Italian lessons. I will write some basic Italian for beginners, but anybody can ask questions and I will be pleased to answer.
So, let's start, Lesson number One:
Greetings- Saluti

Ciao: Hello/Hi; very informal, but also common among friends and so on... You can use it either when you arrive or when you leave.

Salve: hello; a bit less informal, but anyway not a formal way of greeting.

Buongiorno/ Buon giorno: Good morning; You can use it until noon, as in English. You can say Buongiorno when you start a conversation, when you arrive and (in formal context) you can say so even when you're leaving. My Granma used to say that it was more polite than "arrivederci". Actually, nobody would say that "arrivederci" is unpolite!

Buon pomeriggio: Good afternoon; I think that a common grammar would tell you that you can use it when you arrive or starting a conversation after noon, but it is quite unusual to use it like this. If you really want to say so, and not give the impression of being a foreigner, use it before leaving, is a good and polite way to wish a nice day!

Buona sera/Buonasera: You can start using it after noon. As Buongiorno, is mainly use when you arrive, and if you want to be very polite you can say so when you're leaving (see Buongiorno).

Buona notte/Buonanotte: Good night; mainly used before going to bed, or very late at night.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Try Again!

Yes, That's it!

Now it is a year (and some day) since I last wrote something on these pages... I feel a bit ashamed, but since I need it, I really want to try again!

Try again to write something ( I hope) interesting.
Try again to be diligent enough.
Try again the trick of blogosphere to help my language learning.

I hope I'll do it better this time!