Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Italian: A beautiful language of love
Tuesday, April 3
Today it is raining, the first time it has rained in San Salvatore since we arrived a month ago. Well, one day there was a 10-minute downpour, but the rest of the day was sunny. Today is a steady drizzle, with occasional short pauses, kind of like the weather in Gig Harbor for three quarters of the year. This gives me a chance to catch up on my language lessons, reading and writing.
I just read two articles that make me feel good about learning Italian. Language-Learning-Advisor.com took a user survey, asking for opinions on the most beautiful languages. The favorite spoken language is Italian, followed by French and then Spanish. English came in sixth. Naturally, I am in full agreement. To hear the same word, such as the city name Maranello, pronounced in English and then Italian shows a clear difference. The English pronunciation sounds drab, with the sounds coming from the throat. But it sounds almost like singing when an Italian says the word. As I try to imitate the proper pronunciation of Italian words, I find I am using my lip and cheek muscles much more than when I use English pronunciation, and it sounds like the words are coming out of the top of my mouth instead of somewhere around my Adam’s apple.
Lucy and I have a love-hate relationship with Rosetta Stone, the computer program that is the heart of our language-learning curriculum. It has voice recognition software that detects our mispronunciation of Italian words. It doesn’t always work, because it sometimes lets me get away with mistakenly using an a instead of an e, but it is really good about making me pronounce the Italian i, o and u correctly. Foreign language teachers are taught not to be too picky about pronunciation, because if they continually correct their students, the students become too self-conscious and will be afraid to speak at all. Lucy and I know from experience that this is true. The computer is relentless, though. It will not feel sorry for us and let us get away with bad pronunciation so as not to embarrass us, and indeed, there is no public humiliation because the lessons are done in isolation.
That doesn’t mean there is no frustration, however, when I have to repeat the same word three times, and I can’t tell how I said it differently the third time, when the computer finally accepts my pronunciation. Mostly, however, we appreciate that the program is helping us minimize our bad accents, and though the program is expensive, it is actually a bargain when compared to paying for lessons.
One more great thing I read about Italian: London-based Today Translations surveyed its linguists, asking for the most romantic language, as in their favorite language of love. Once again, Italian is at the top of the list. In fact, five of the top six words of love were Italian: amore, bellisima, tesoro, dolcezza and innamorato, although the French word amour did come in number one.
Well, finding this information has inspired me to close out today’s blog entry and cue up my lessons. Lucy has a birthday coming up in a month, so maybe I’ll be advanced enough by that time to write her a love poem in Italian.