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Adventures of a student of Italian

Italian Vocabulary Freebies: Musical Terms – 22 November 2012

I thought today it would be fun to list some musical terms and what they actually mean in Italian. You probably know many of these 20 words in their musical contexts, so it’s like a list of freebies!

Musical meaning: a musical tempo indicating a slower pace
Adagio means “slowly,” “gently,” or “carefully”

Musical meaning: play the passage with emotion
Affectuoso means “affectionate” or “tender”

Musical meaning: indication to play in a rough, agitated manner
From agitare meaning “to agitate” or “to shake”

Musical meaning: decrease tempo
From allargare meaning “to broaden”

Musical meaning: a marking indicating a fast pace
Allegro meaning “cheerful” or “bright”

Musical meaning: closing section of the movement
La Coda means “tail”

Musical meaning: indication to play in a sad and sorrowful manner
Dolente means “aching” or “doleful”

Musical meaning: play smoothly
From legare meaning “to bind” or “to tie”

Musical meaning: slowing down
From rallentare meaning “to slow down” or “to delay”

Musical meaning: slowing down
From ritardare meaning “to delay” or “to slow down”

Musical meaning: applied to a passage where the musician can slow down or speed up for expressive purposes
From rubare meaning “to steal” (the idea of “stolen time”)

Musical meaning: carry on to the next section without stopping
From seguire meaning “to follow”

Musical meaning: indicates a movement that’s light and sometimes playful or humorous in character
From scherzare meaning “to joke”

Musical meaning: sudden strong accent
From sforzare meaning “to force” or “to strain”

Musical meaning: play the passage with decreasing volume and possibly tempo
From smorzare meaning “to deaden” or “to soften”

Musical meaning: speeding up
From stringere meaning “to tighten”

Musical meaning: the speed of the music (and a tempo means to go back to the original time signature/speed).
Il tempo means “time”

Musical meaning: emphasize the note, either by playing it slightly longer or slightly louder than notated
From tenere “to have”

Musical meaning: the range in a singer’s voice that is most comfortable to sing in
Tessitura means “texture” or “weaving”

Musical meaning: a marking indicating fast and lively music
Vivace means “bright, vivid”

Any questions or comments? Write me anytime. Grazie e ciao! Posted on Nov. 22nd 2012 at 6:05 a.m.

Resources – Basic Websites for Language Learning – 25 July 2012

Seeing as Il Tavolo Italiano is a website, I’m going to deduce that you have access to both a computer and the internet. That’s great, because this post is going to share some websites that will help you in your mission to learn a language. Most of the following aren’t Italian specific, but are filled with great info on language learning.

Google Translate. This site is so obvious that it hardly bears mentioning, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it. It’s best to use it to translate from Italian to English, because if you blindly accept its translations from English to Italian, you can get some pretty wacky stuff. As language is so idiomatic and metaphor-heavy, it’s not a simple one-to-one ratio of translation. Still, as far as free translation software goes, this is hard to beat.

Word Reference. I have a tab with Word Reference open all the time on my browser and I use it daily. You’ll find a comprehensive English-Italian and Italian-English dictionary that includes both literal and metaphorical translations and examples of how words are used in idiomatic expressions. For verbs, click on the conjugation hyperlink and you’ll find a full conjugation table of the verb in all its forms, as well as a list of other verbs that follow the same model. I know this is a nerdy thing to say, but it’s awesome!

Omniglot. This site is not as useful as the previous two when it comes to day-to-day study, but it’s fascinating nonetheless. From advice on how to learn languages and which language to learn, to language profiles, to constructed alphabets submitted by Omniglot users, there’s enough here to keep you busy for hours. The Italian page alone contains a history of the language, information on the alphabet and pronunciation, sample text and audio clip, and plenty of links. There’s so much here, it’s amazing to me that this whole site was done by just one guy.

Livemocha. This site is just one example of the many community-based language-learning websites that abound on the web. Its methodology focuses on observing and listening to native speakers and then producing the language yourself through writing and speaking exercises. It’s free, so check it out and see if it works for you.

Of course, the site you’re on,Il Tavolo Italiano, is pretty great, too! Chuck has worked hard to make this site a great place to learn Italian. You’ll find the list of classes here. Classes have downloadable PDFs of vocabulary, weekly homework assignments, and flashcards; imbedded videos and downloadable podcasts; and crossword puzzles, music videos, and trivia just for fun. If you haven’t taken advantage of all the materials here, go ahead and get started. You can also follow Il Tavolo on facebook. Keep up–to-date with what’s going on with the group and take part in a lively Italian discussion online.

There are many more sites, but these should keep you busy for now. If you want to drop me a line, you can reach me here anytime. Grazie e ciao! Posted on July 31st 2012 at 4:01 a.m.

Getting Over Your Dread of Studying – 19 June 2012

Remember when a typical evening of homework consisted of a chapter of biology notes, an essay on Wuthering Heights, 40 pages of reading on the Civil War, and a set of math problems? Remember dreading pop quizzes and cramming for exams all night long? Remember report cards and parent-teacher conferences?

Most of us wouldn’t choose to go back to that life, because if we remember correctly, we remember that being a student isn't always fun. But we are not those kids anymore, and getting into good study habits as an adult doesn’t have to be so hard. Here are some things to remember.

We choose to learn Italian. I’m sure there was a subject in school that you couldn’t care less about, but you had to take it anyway. Well, times have changed! You don’t have to learn anything you don’t want to, and I can’t imagine that there’s anyone reading this who absolutely HAS to learn Italian or they will die. (But if so, please write me, because that sounds like an interesting story.) Whenever you get frustrated in your learning, stop and remind yourself that there are no external pressures here – no upcoming tests, no deadlines, no possibility of a big fat F on your report card. Learning a language probably won’t be enjoyable every single minute, but you should find it enjoyable the majority of the time. If you don’t, ask yourself why you’re learning Italian.

In fact, Why are you learning Italian? For an upcoming business trip, or just for the sheer joy of it? If you don’t know the answer to that question right off the bat, then you should spend some time thinking about it. There are no wrong answers here. When you figure them out, jot them down. Keep these reasons front and center in your mind when you start your (hopefully daily) study sessions. Thinking of what motivates you to learn Italian will give you energy to keep going.

No more boring textbooks unless, for some strange reason, you want there to be. This might be the best thing about learning as an adult – you can learn from whatever materials you want! The number of language-learning resources has exploded in the last 20 years with the growth of the internet and there’s no excuse for being bored with what you’re learning. You can learn Italian from a $100 textbook with staged pictures of young people (often from the 80s, for some reason) having extended conversations about when, how, and where to purchase a cup of coffee. Or you can learn it by reading Italian food blogs and watching La Dolce Vita over and over. Which sounds better to you? So pick stuff you love, and start with that. (I’m not saying a little grammar book won’t come in handy, because it will. All I'm saying is, don’t make that the centerpiece of your learning, or you’ll likely bore yourself to tears.)

I hope this makes you dread studying a little less. Like I said, it’s not supposed to be one long ecstasy-filled experience (and again, if you find that it is, please write me!) but it should be something you look forward to. You get to spend some time away from work and paying the bills and doing the dishes - instead, you get to spend time with a language you love.

This is the first post for the reincarnation of my blog for Il Tavolo Italiano, and in my future posts I plan to share some tips on how to learn, some resources for learning, and some information on Italian language and culture. I love both suggestions and comments, so again, please feel free to write me anytime. Grazie e ciao! Posted on June 19th 2012 at 2:33 a.m.