Italian All Around Us
Italian is a language that can be seen at more places than fancy restaurants. Italain can be found even in places like Birmingham. The following photos are examples of Italian in our community.
The Language Links sections provides links to wonderful resources that will help teachers hear and learn the basics of Italian.
Language Links: Italian
The following websites are wonderful links to audio and videos that will assist teachers in learning basic Italian language skills and survival terminology. The greatest thing is they are all free.
Overview of the Italian Language
The standard Italian language is spoken by Italy's 57 million residents. It is also a minority language in Austria and Switzerland, as well as in Libya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, which were once Italian colonies. However, Italian pronunciation varies greatly between regions. In Tuscany, for example, Italian speakers pronounce "c" like an "h". Thus, "Coca-Cola con la cannuccia" (Coke with a straw) sounds more like "Hoha-Hola hon la hannuccia." These regional linguistic traits make it easy to identify the home region of someone who speaks Italian.
The modern Italian language that is spoken in Italy today developed in the 13th and 14th centuries. It arose out of Latin and the numerous dialects of the region, and was heavily influenced by the works of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Those literary giants wrote mainly in the Florentine dialect, which evolved into the so-called "Standard Italian" that is recognized today as Italy's national language. In fact, Florence is the only Italian city today that does not have a distinct dialect separate from Standard Italian. In all other regions, it is common to hear dialects spoken, particularly among residents who have lived in the same town for generations. These dialects, vaguely similar to Italian but often unintelligible to people not born in the area, are living reminders of Italy's feudal past and the isolation of its various regions prior to unification.Italian Vocabulary
Italian vocabulary has contributed many words to the English language over the years. Some of these words include gondola, regatta, fresco, vendetta, broccoli, volcano, basilica, stucco, terracotta, and inferno. In music, one finds numerous Italian terms, such as concerto, sonata, tempo, aria, allegro, staccato, andante, and lento.
With some studying and a good sense of humor, English speakers can usually learn Italian with relative ease. One thing to watch out for when you're learning Italian, though, is false cognates. Cognates are words that have approximately the same spelling and meaning in two different languages. There are many true cognate words in English and Italian, but there are also a number of Italian vocabulary words that can fool you by their false resemblance to English.
For example, the Italian word camera is not something you take pictures with; it actually means room. If you use the word morbido to describe something gruesome, you are really saying that it is soft. And if you ask for confetti at a party, you may be surprised when you are given sugar coated almonds. Above all, don't ask for peperoni on your pizza when you speak Italian - unless you want hot peppers!
To learn more about Italian, click here.