Monthly Archives: October 2017

“Dolcetto o scherzetto ?” And other facts from today’s Italian lesson!

Just in time for Halloween here’s how to say “Trick or treat?” in Italian, “Dolcetto o scherzetto ?”.

You might want to talk about dressing up !

I bambini si vestono da scheletro, per esempio – oppure da fantasma.  (The kids dress up as skeletons, for example, or as ghosts !

Instead of using the verb vestirsi , you can say I bambini si mascheranno da…   (In Italian una maschera is a mask).

Where do you go trick or treating?? Perhaps just vicino alla casa (close to home), and not visiting gli sconosciuti (strangers). I love the word sconosciuti, however I always forget it which is really inconvenient. I also had a lot of problems with preposizioni (prepositions) in this lesson, such as when I said “in vicino alla casa” which was a bit wrong! AND when I said “In Berlino” instead of “ A Berlino”.

Another fact I discovered in this lesson is that lots of Italian kids at primary school (not every single school but it is common) have to wear an apron – il grembiule – instead of a uniform. The aprons look really funny. My kids would not be impressed! Also grembiule is the first Italian word I’ve come across which I don’t like the sound of. It sounds like gremlin, perhaps that is the reason??

More problems with piacere in this lesson as well. I was trying to describe something that used to happen in the past (but doesn’t happen any more) so I needed to use the imperfect tense. And I needed to say “ They didn’t use to like it.” “Non gli piaceva.”  I can’t remember what I actually said instead of this, but I don’t think I was anywhere close!

Finally when you are talking about something that happens at a certain time of year, you use periodo dell’anno, you would not use the word tempo, which is for weather, or the time of day! In the Italian city of Trieste there is a wind, with its own name, called the bora which blows a lot in questo periodo dell’anno! Which is a great fact.

In conclusion, I really need to practice prepositions, and I still haven’t got the hang of using piacere in anything other than the present tense. Perhaps I should write my next blog post about piacere???

 

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Talking about films in Italian

A couple of weeks ago I went to the cinema with my husband to see Blade Runner 2049. I had never seen the original Blade Runner which came out in 1982 and starred Harrison Ford, so I did not know what to expect. I am also rather terrible at following film plots and especially at describing films to other people, even in English. So when the subject of films arose in my recent Italian lesson, our conversation was quite confusing and amusing! (My teacher had not seen it either, nor had she seen the original!)

Premise of the film :In a nutshell, humans have created androids known as “replicants” to do all the hard work on earth and in the extra-terrestrial colonies. However when the replicants are life-expired, out of date models or if they escape to try and do their own thing, they have to be hunted down and eliminated by a fellow replicant known as a “Blade Runner”. The Blade Runner is not a popular person.

Di cosa parla? what’s it about? (You can also ask Su cos’è ?)

è un film di fantascienza. ( A science fiction film). è ambientato nel 2049 in una Los Angeles distopica. Mancano le piante e gli alberi. Era molto scuro. (It’s set in LA in a dystopian future where there are no trees / plants and it is all very dark.)

Il primo film è ispirato di questo libro “Do androids dream of Electric sheep?” da Philip K Dick. In Italiano “Il cacciatore di androidi”.

Ti è piaciuto questo film? ( Did you like this film?)

Secondo me, questo film è troppo lungo. Dura due ore e mezza. (I thought it  was rather long at 2.5 hours!!!)

Non mi è piaciuta la colonna sonora ( I didn’t like the sound track) Era troppo forte  (it was too loud). Mi ha dato un mal di testa!!

è un film piuttosto scuro e  c’erano scene di violenza . (it’s rather a dark film, and there were some violent scenes).

At this point my Italian failed me for the rest of my review, especially describing the scene where Ryan Gosling who plays the Blade Runner in this film, catches a replicant, kills him and cuts out his eye!  By this point I feel fairly sure that I have well and truly put my teacher off the idea of ever watching this film!

Me : Mio marito voleva vedere questo film. Preferisco le commedie. ( my husband wanted to see this film. I prefer commedies)

Giulia (insegnante) : Anche mio marito vuole vedere questo film, ma non ho voglia. Ho un raffredore. è una buona scusa. ( My husband wants to see it too, but i’m not so keen. I’ve got a bit of a cold so it’s a good excuse!).

Avete visto questo film? Cosa ne pensate? Have you seen this film? what did you think of it?!!

 

 

 

How to say “I miss you” in Italian

In Italian ‘I miss you’ is ‘mi manchi‘, which literally translates as ‘You are missing to me’. If you are familiar with French this will be easy (easier?) as it is the same structure : ‘tu me manques‘. If you don’t know French this won’t help at all.

I have to think about this verb mancare every time I use it; it falls in with a group of tricky verbs including piacere (to like)volerci (to take), interessare (to interest) and servire (to need, to be useful) in which the phrases are formed in this same non-linear way.

To continue with some more examples of mancare, if you wanted to say ‘I miss my parents’ this would be ‘ Mi mancano i miei genitori’ – ‘My parents are missing to me’. Or to say ‘Do you miss your grandma ?’ you would say ‘ Ti manca la nonna ?‘.

Mancare can also pop up in other useful little phrases such as ‘ Ti manca qualcosa?‘ which means ‘ Do you need anything?’ For this you could also use ‘Ti serve qualcosa ? ‘ which would have the same meaning.

Other examples : Mancano le piante. ( There are no plants).  In questo libro mancano le didascalie a tutte le immagini. ( In this book the pictures have no captions).

One final example of how the verb mancare can be used comes from an article I read recently on the Il Post website, which incidentally I highly recommend for practising your Italian with easy news articles .  I came across the following headline about the forthcoming new Star Wars film :

Mancano due mesi all’uscita del nuovo film di Star Wars‘.  In this case you could translate the sentence as ‘ Two months to go until the new Star Wars film comes out’.  Or alternatively ‘Only two months to go….’

Possibly a little early to start getting excited ?!! Unless you are a huge Star Wars fan. But a great example of using the first verb on my tricky verbs list! More of these to come later.

 

 

Errori, errori dappertutto !

Mistakes, mistakes! When learning a language it is impossible to avoid making mistakes once you start speaking this language to real people. And if you are like me and you hate making mistakes then this can be a real barrier to progress. I have noticed that my teacher, who is very sympathetic and encouraging with all my mistakes, doesn’t point out every single one but mostly those that are most important, and also tellingly does not correct my accent. (This is not because my Italian accent is that fantastic I assure you, but because if adult learners of a second language have their accent criticised too much this can be the final straw leading to them giving up completely!) Grammar mistakes are not too personally upsetting though. Using the wrong tense isn’t cause for too much acute embarrassment, whereas having your accent dissected would be rather more demoralising to most people.

However I have started ALMOST  to love my mistakes because, if I allow them to be, they are the most incredibly effective way of improving. The key thing is to learn from them. Here’s the rub – Unfortunately this does necessitate more work!!! During my lesson my teacher takes notes for me of sentences or phrases that I have struggled with. She types them into a notepad to which we both have access. Afterwards i try to review these phrases and repeat them until they stick in my head.

as a result i have a load of random sentences in my head such as :

Mio figlio grande non voleva tornare a scuola. (My oldest son didn’t want to go back to school).

My initial mistake with this sentence was to say : Mio figlio grande non ha voluto tornare a scuola.  (ie. I used the perfect tense instead of the imperfect). I suppose this conveyed the meaning but just sounded wrong!

Another mistake that I made was more annoying to me because I have made it far too many times.  Which means I am not learning from it at all and that is frustrating. Whilst discussing Denmark (la Danimarca) I was attempting to say that our family visited Denmark 5 years ago. I seem to have a total block over expressing that I STAYED somewhere or VISITED a place.

Siamo stati in Danimarca 5 anni fa. ( we visited Denmark 5 years ago)

Non sono mai stata in Germania ( I have never been to Germany)

Do I have any useful advice on learning from your mistakes ? Re-reading Gabriel Wyner’s book Fluent Forever, he suggests making flash cards of the corrected versions of your mistakes and reviewing these flash cards regularly. I write down words or phrases and stick them up in my kitchen where I can’t help seeing them! The key is in the repetition. Obviously this is in conjunction with listening to the language at every opportunity to hear the words and phrases used in context, which helps you realise how unnatural your mistakes sound.

I will leave you with a useful little expression that I have struggled with remembering many times

Non pensavo!  (I didn’t realise that!)