30 Minute Italian

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[068] How to Talk About Foreign Languages and Cultures: Mini-Story Pt. 5

Vocabulary Speed-Dates:Cartesio, significa, il dialetto, comprendere, legati

  • Cartesio - Name for Rene Descartes
  • Significa comes from the verb SIGNIFICARE - to mean, signfiy
  • Il dialetto - dialect
  • Comprendere - understand, include, consist of
  • Legato - united, linked

Grammar Bomb: ha detto, vorrei capire come funziona l’universo;

Ha detto - He/she/It said - Past tense

Ha comes from avere - Detto comes from dire.

Read: Italian Past Tense (Because Even Though We Shouldn't Live in It, We Need to Talk About It)

vorrei capire come funziona l’universo - {In Italian speak} I would like to understand how functions the universe.

This isn’t a typical sentence in English, obviously. But it happens often in Italian. So as I mentioned in a previous episode, keep embracing Italian articles, music, movies + shows so you can get a feel for the structure and quiet your inner literal translator, that person who wants to translate everything word for word in Italian.

Resources mentioned:

Connect with me

Direct download: ICE_EP68.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 1:17pm PDT

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[067] How to Talk About Foreign Languages and Cultures: Mini-Story Pt. 4

Vocabulary Speed-Dates: la meccanica quantistica, Infine, mi sembrano, furbo

  • La meccanica quantistica - Quantum mechanics {if you&'re nerdier, you'll appreciate this to drop in conversation or when having a chat with that renowned Italian physicist}
  • Infine - Finally
  • Mi sembrano comes from the verb sembrare and has the ‘mi in front of it to mean - It seems to me.
  • Furbo - clever

Here's a fun story for you. My ex-ragazzo, whom I haven't called Voldemort in a long time on this podcast, was described as furbo by almost everyone who knew him. Sure, he spoke five languages - including the very difficult Arabic - but furbo is more than that.

Italians say: “Furbo come una volpe.” - Clever like a fox, which means it has shades of being cunning or sly.

This is definitely the perfect word to describe him.

Key phrases: da tanto tempo che volevo impararlo/mi piacerebbe fare conversazione

  • da tanto tempo che volevo impararlo - I've wanted to learn it for a long time.
  • Mi piacerebbe fare conversazione. - The literal translator, which we want to avoid, in us would translate this as Voglio parlare, which isn't grammatically wrong, but it doesn't sound native Italian. To say Mi piacerebbe fare conversazione sounds more fluid and correct.

Grammar Bomb: mi piacerebbe fare conversazione con sua madre/la linguistica, il latino e il sanscrito perché sono le lingue base;

Notice the ‘sua here for the possession. Remember, when you're using the possessive to talk about relationships with a singular family member, you don't need to use the article {il, la, le, i}.

Read: Possessive Pronouns and Adjectives in Italian (or How to Talk About What's Yours)

la linguistica, Il latino e il sanscrito perché sono le lingue base - While it's easy to understand why sono is used here - to mean they are - it's a different story when you're actually talking to someone and trying to conjugate verbs at lightning speed in your head.

Sono is used here because there is more than one subject. In totale, there are three {linguistica, latino, sanscrito}

So when you talk about those three, you have to conjugate the form to reflect the third person plural, or the they form.

YOUR TASK

Resources mentioned:

Connect with me

Direct download: ICE_EP67.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 10:12am PDT

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[066] How to Talk About Foreign Languages and Cultures: Mini-Story Pt. 3

TRANSLATION

Oggi parlerò della mia passione per tutto ciò che riguarda le lingue straniere.

Today I will talk about my passion for all foreign languages.

Si tratta principalmente di un elenco delle lingue che intendo imparare seguito da una breve descrizione dei motivi che mi spingono a farlo.

It's mostly a list of languages that I plan on learning following with a short description of the reasons why I am challenging myself to do it.

In totale, mi piacerebbe studiare quattordici lingue.

In all, I would like to learn fourteen languages. {This has actually changed, and I'm up to 25 in 25 years.}

Quest’anno studio l'italiano.

This year, I'm studying Italian.

L'anno prossimo, studierò il cinese, lo spagnolo messicano e la linguistica.

The following year, I will study Chinese, Mexican Spanish and Linguistics.

Poi il sanscrito, il coreano, il giapponese, il latino, il portoghese, l'arabo, il francese, il danese, e la matematica – probabilmente il calcolo differenziale – e, se avrò tempo, la meccanica quantistica.

Then Sanskrit, Korean, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Arabic, French, Danish, and math -- probably differential equations - and if I have time, quantum mechanics.

Infine, un po' sardo, di gallurese e di calabrese.

At the end, a little bit of the Sardegnian dialect, Gallurese and the Calabrian dialect.

Studio l'italiano perché amo la cultura, il cibo e la storia di questo paese;

I study Italian because I love the culture, the food and the history of this country;

il cinese perché sono taiwanese ed è da tanto tempo che volevo impararlo;

Chinese because I'm Taiwanese and I have wanted to learn it for a long time;

lo spagnolo messicano perché il mio ragazzo è messicano e mi piacerebbe fare conversazione con sua madre;

Mexican Spanish because my boyfriend is Mexican and I would like to have conversations with his mom;

la linguistica, il latino e il sanscrito perché sono le lingue base;

Linguistics, Latin and Sanskrit because they are foundational languages

il coreano e il giapponese perché mi piacciono le serie televisive e in particolare gli anime;

Korean and Japanese because I like the television series and in particular anime;

il danese perché mi piace la Danimarca e i danesi mi sembrano molto simpatici, buffi e furbi;

Danish because I like Denmark and the Danish are very nice, funny and clever;

la matematica, perché Cartesio ha detto che “capire la matematica significa capire il mondo” e io vorrei capire come funziona l'universo;

Mathematics because Rene Descartes said that “to understand math is to understand the world” and I would like the understand how the universe functions.

infine, il sardo, il gallurese e il calabrese perché mi piacciono i dialetti e vorrei comprendere come questi siano legati all'Italiano.

At the end, Sardo, Gallurese, and Calabrese because I like dialects and I would like to understand how they are linked to Italian.

YOUR TASK

Listen to the story again in all Italian and see how much of it you can understand.

Resources mentioned:

Connect with me

/p>

Direct download: ICE_Ep66.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 9:54am PDT

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[065] How to Talk About Foreign Languages and Cultures: Mini-Story Pt. 2

Vocabulary Speed-Dates: In totale, quest'anno, lo spagnolo messicano, cinese

  • In totale - in total, in all
  • Quest'anno - This year
  • Lo spagnolo messicano - Mexican Spanish
  • cinese - Chinese

*Note here that you don't capitalize the names of languages in Italian. They're all lower-case.

Key phrases: In totale, mi piacerebbe studiare quattordici lingue./L'anno prossimo/se avrò tempo

We're looking at mi piacerebbe here, and this little bite of information comes from the lovely Dianne Hales, author of La Bella Lingua, who mentions in her book that an Italian guy asked her how she says “I want…”

She answered with “Voglio..,” which is grammatically correct, but not culturally correct if you're a lady. He said that she should be saying “Mi piacerebbe…” meaning “It would please me…” This phrase displays maturity over the more childish Voglio.

Se avrò tempo - If if I have time {in the future}

You can also say:

  • Se avrò più tempo…- If I have more time...
  • Se avrò del tempo… - If I have some time…

After these constructions, you would put some phrase of what you would do if you had more time. In this case, since avrò is future tense, the next verb should be in the future tense.

Grammar Bomb: studierò il cinese, lo spagnolo messicano e la linguistica.

I'm highlighting the future tense using the verb studiare here, which first person is conjugated as studierò - I will study.

{Notice something here - Studiare is spelled…, but when it's conjugated into the future tense that ‘a changes to an ‘e. This is important to remember as you conjugate verbs ending in -are in the future tense.}

When you have a verb that ends in -are, like amare (to love), you must change the -a within -are to an -e. So, conjugating amare would look like this:

  • amerò
  • amerai
  • amerà
  • ameremo
  • amerete
  • ameranno

Abbracciare (to hug, embrace)

  • abbraccerò
  • abbraccerai
  • abbraccerà
  • abbracceremo
  • abbraccerete
  • abbracceranno

YOUR TASK

Find 2-3 verbs ending in -are and conjugate them in the future tense.

Resources mentioned:

Future Tense in Italian (or How to Fall in Love with the Future Tense)

Connect with me

Tweet me @icebergproject

Find me on Facebook to learn phrases, idioms, vocabulary and culture tips!

Direct download: ICE_EP65.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 12:38am PDT

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[064] How to Talk About Foreign Languages and Cultures: Mini-Story Pt. 1

Vocabulary Speed-Dates: Si tratta, intendo, i motivi, mi spingo

Si tratta comes from the reflexive verb TRATTARSI - to be about {something}

Intendo comes from the verb INTENDERE - to intend, to mean

il motivo is a masculine noun that means reasons or explanations

Mi spingono comes from the reflexive verb SPINGERSI - challenge oneself or push oneself

Key phrase: per tutto ciò che riguarda... - For all that concerns…

  • Per tutto ciò che riguarda le lingue straniere {like in the example}
  • Per tutto ciò che riguarda il mercato di lavoro - For everything that concerns the labor market/work market.

A synonym to this is Per quanto riguarda - That concerning/In regard to...

Grammar Bomb: Oggi parlerò della mia passione per tutto ciò che riguarda le lingue straniere.

We're looking at the very first verb in this sentence, which is parlerò. Parlerò is the first person of the future tense, meaning I WILL…, in this case, I WILL TALK/SPEAK.

Other verbs conjugated in the future tense are:

  • Sarò - I will be - from the verb ESSERE
  • Farò - I will do/make - from the verb FARE
  • Andrò - I will go - from the verb ANDARE

YOUR TASK

Resources mentioned

Future Tense in Italian (or How to Fall in Love with the Future Tense)

Reflexive Verbs in Italian (or the Tense That's All About You)

Connect with me

Tweet me @icebergproject

Click to tweet: Just went on an Italian vocab speed-date with intendere, il motivo, spingersi, & trattarsi! Interested?

Find me on Facebook to learn phrases, idioms, vocabulary and culture tips!

Direct download: ICE_Ep64.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 12:33am PDT

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Quick + Dirty Cheat Sheet to Calabrese The grammar points below are from ItaliaDonna

  • "mb" and "nd" --> "mm" and "nn"
  • "fi" --> "hi"
  • "nf" --> "mp"
  • "gn" --> "un"

Gli esempi

  • Ci vediamo --> Indivirimu
  • Tre --> Tri
  • Fa freddo --> S'arripinna
  • Ma sei stupida? --> Ma sei storta?

The phrases below are from My Bella Vita

Calabrese Proverb:&“Lavùru fattu, dinàri aspetta.” --> “He who works, must be paid.”

Calabrese Proverb: “Si ‘un ti muovi ti mangianu i muschi.” -->“If you don't move, the flies will eat you.”

Resources Referenced:

  1. http://www.italiadonna.it/public/percorsi/02014/calabriad.htm
  2. http://mybellavita.com/2011/11/calabrian-history-luigi-lilio/
  3. http://mybellavita.com/2009/09/calabrese-proverbs/

Your task

Think of your favorite city in Italy. Do some research and learn a couple of facts about their dialect.

Direct download: ICE_EP63.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 7:03pm PDT

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Romanesco is characterized by its own unique words and a tendency to shorten standard Italian, which you’ll notice as I describe each transformation and new word.

This dialect is typically spoken in the Lazio region where I stayed and it still varies by city.

I stayed in Viterbo and they called their dialect Viterbesian, which overlapped with Romanesco.

While it’s not entirely likely that people will speak to you in dialect, you might hear it as people pass you by the on the street or you might encounter someone who does speak only in dialect, which I think is more likely to happen in the south.

Either way, it’s fun to know the dialects and I particularly enjoy them because I am a language nerd.

It’s officially called Romanesco by scholars, but you’ll hear all different names for it. In Urbe, a province in the north in Liguria, they call it Romanaccio.

They say that it’s one of the most widely known dialects since so much media comes out of Rome and that Italians all over the country speak some Romanesco as it’s been popularized.

Characteristics of Romanesco

  • il - er
  • Andiamo ragazzi - ‘Namo raga
  • Dove andiamo? - Do’ ‘namo?
  • Che facciamo? - Che famo?
  • Ci ho un a fame - C’ho una fame (I'm hungry) or C’ho tante cose da fare (I have a lot of things to do)
  • A bizzeffe - in gran quantità - in great quantity

Di storie così;, ne abbiamo raccolte a bizzeffe.

  • Mi’ nonno diceva: Meglio er sedere gelato che 'n gelato er sedere: non fidarti mai di chi non conosci bene - Don't trust who you don't know well.
  • S’e' fatta 'na certa - e tardi; dobbiamo andare - It's late; We should go.
  • Essere un dritto - Essere furbo - To be clever
  • Sei un gnocco - You are blockhead/stubborn.

'Tipo tosto - Stubborn person,' which we learned in episode 60, is also Romanesco.

Your task:

Go to Internazionale.it and read your horoscope in Italian. Use Wordreference to look up words you don't know yet.

Resources Mentioned:

Roman Dialect

Accademia Romanesca

Direct download: ICE_EP62.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 5:58pm PDT

Click play on the player at the bottom to listen to this podcast or listen to it on Stitcher or iTunes.  

Making a reservation by phone

If you decide to call ahead before you book a room, which I recommend, here is a simple script of what your conversation might look like.

1.) Without pronunciation
Clerk: Pronto?

Hello?

You: Pronto. Vorrei prenotare una camera doppia per due notti dal 14 al 16 maggio, per favore.

Hi. I would like to book a double room for two nights from the 14th to the 16th of May, please.

Clerk: Volete due letti separati o un letto matrimoniale?

Would you like two separate beds or one double bed?

You: Un letto matrimoniale.

One double bed.

Clerk: Va bene.

Ok.

You: Quanto viene?

How much is it?

Clerk: Settantacinque euro a notte con colazione.

75 euros per night with breakfast.

You: È vicino al centro?

Is it near downtown?

Clerk:&Sì. Cinquecento metri.

Yes. 500 meters.

You:Perfetto. La prendo.

Perfect. I'll take it.

Clerk:Il suo nome?

Your name?

You:Jennifer Lawrence.

Clerk:Grazie.

Thank you.

You: Prego.

You're welcome.

Clerk: Prego. A presto.

You're welcome. Talk to you later.

You: Arrivederci!

Goodbye!

2.) With pronunciation

Clerk: Pronto?

PRAWN-toe

You: Pronto. Vorrei prenotare una camera doppia per due notti dal 14 al 16 maggio, per favore.

PRAWN-toe VOH-reh preh-no-TAR-eh OOH-nah KAH-mer-ah DOH-pee-ah pear DOO-eh NOTE-tee dal kwaht-TOR-dee-chee al SEH-dee-chee MAH-joe pear fah-VOR-eh

Clerk: Volete due letti separati o un letto matrimoniale?

voh-LEH-teh DOO-eh LET-tee seh-pah-RAH-tee oh oon LET-toe mah-tree-monee-AH-leh

You: Un letto matrimoniale.

oon LET-toe mah-tree-monee-AH-leh

Clerk: Va bene.

va BEH-neh

You: Quanto viene?

KWAN-toe VIEH-neh

Clerk: Settantacinque euro a notte con colazione.

seh-tahn-tah-CHEEN-kweh eh-UR-oh ah NOTE-teh cone cole-ah-TZEE-OH-neh

You: È vicino al centro?

eh vee-CHEE-no ahl CHEN-troh

Clerk: Sì. Cinquecento metri.

see cheen-kweh-CHEN-toe MEHT-ree

You: Perfetto. La prendo.

pear-FET-toe la PREHN-doh

Clerk: Il suo nome?

eel soo-oh NO-meh

You: Jennifer Lawrence.

Clerk: Grazie.

GRAH-tzee-eh

You: Prego.

PREH-go

Clerk: Prego. A presto.

PREH-go ah PRESS-toe

You: Arrivederci!

ah-ree-veh-DARE-chee

Other useful questions you might need to ask

C'è qualcosa di più economico?

cheh kwal-KO-zah dee pew eh-ko-NOMI-ko

Is there anything cheaper?

Il prezzo include la colazione?

eel PREH-tzoh een-CLUE-deh la cole-ah-TZEE-oh-neh
Does the price include breakfast?

YOUR TASK

Go dream hotel surfing on the internet for the number one city you want to stay in in Italy using the site Venere.com.

Direct download: ICE_EP61.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 9:59am PDT

Click play on the player at the bottom to listen to this podcast or listen to it on Stitcher or iTunes.  

Le frasi

Galeotto fu il libro

(gah-lee-OH-toe foo eel LEE-bro)

The act of matchmaking two people together. It comes from the idea that if you give a book to a guy to give to a girl, she’ll be interested in him and they’ll fall in love.

Promettere mari e monti

(pro-MET-er-eh mar-ee eh MOHN-tee)

Literally it means to promise the seas and mountains, but it figuratively means to promise someone everything. You could say Non mi prometti mari e monti or Mi ha promesso mari e monti.

Non mi chiedere la luna

(non me key-ed-ER-eh la LOO-nah)

Don’t ask me for the moon. It’s on the same vein as the previous phrase.

Andare a monte

(ahn-DAR-eh a MOHN-teh)

This literally means to go to the mountains, but it figuratively means that everything went poorly to the point of cancellation making it similar to the verb disdire - to annul or to cancel

Gli esempi

Un viaggio va a monte.

Il matrimonio è andato a monte.

Ne ho fin sopra i capelli

(neh oh feen SO-prah ee kah-PELL-ee)

This one sounds like something we would say in English and means I’ve had it up to here, like when you’re threatening someone that you’ve had enough of their BS. It literally means I have it up to my hair.

Capitare su un osso duro

(cap-ee-TAR-eh sue oon OH-so DER-oh)

This one means that you’re understanding how a person is. A person who is un osso duro is a stubborn person who is also slightly stupid. You would use this in a negative sense. Italians also do this cute thing where they tap their fist on the table when describing an osso duro. You could also describe someone as being un tipo tosto and mean the same thing.

Dare del filo da torcere

(DAR-eh del FEE-low da tor-CHEH-reh)

When you think of this phrase, think of the children who get to the ‘Why’ stage in their lives. You answer a question and they ask why and you answer a question and they ask why. A neverending cycle. They’re never satisfied with their answers. You could tell your friend that this is happening with your daughter by saying:

Mia figlia mi dà del filo da torcere

or

Mio figlio mi ha dato del filo da torcere.

It could also be in a positive sense like describing the child as very curious and therefore intelligent.

Essere in alto mare

(ESS-er-eh een AHL-toe MAR-eh)

According to my Italki teacher Giulia, this phrase is very used, and I could imagine Americans saying it a lot when they’ve procrastinated and are behind on projects/schoolwork. It literally means that you are in high water and very far from the coast. It figuratively means that you have a long way.

Per esempio

Non riesco fare i compiti per domani. Sono in alto mare.

Your task

Use one of these phrases in conversation today, even if you have to talk to yourself.

Resources mentioned:

Direct download: ICE_EP60.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 5:32pm PDT

[Podcast 59] When to Use the Imperfect Tense and When to Use the Past Tense in Italian

When to Use the Imperfect Tense and When to Use the Past Tense in Italian

So by now you know that you typically use the l'imperfetto (the imperfect tense) in Italian to describe things that habitually happened in the past and you use the passato prossimo (past tense) to describe an action that happened at a specific point in time in the past.

But I bet you've gone out and tried to apply those rules and realized that you keep getting corrected to use one tense or the other, which is such a bummer when you thought you knew what you were talking about.

Here's the good news (or the bad news depending on your perspective):

You might not ever know what you're talking about.

And that's okay!

Because we're not in this game to be right. We're in this game to have a good time, to experience Italy and to love love love how much pasta we eat.

But, if you do want to be wrong less often (because yes, it's more comfortable this way), I've put together a little guide to help you discern when to use both tenses.

Need to refresh your memory on the imperfect tense? Read this article.

Need to refresh your memory on the past tense? Read this article.

Oh, and to make you feel better, Italians learning English have the same problem with choosing past tenses.

The way of the world, I suppose.

Most obvious differences

  • The past tense uses 2 parts - You choose Essere or Avere to connect to the verb you want to express in the past. (Ho mangiato la pasta. - I ate the pasta.)
  • The imperfect tense ends in vo's and the past tense ends in a mixture of to's and so's.
  • The imperfect tense does not use any helping verbs like Essere or Avere.

Main differences

  • You use the imperfect tense to describe the weather or the time in the past.
  • You use the imperfect tense to describe how a person was feeling or thinking in the past
  • An action that someone was doing while another action had been completed or was still happening (Eating while she left)
  • You use the past tense to talk about an action that happened in the past that has been completed.

Less obvious differences

  • Some verbs in Italian change meaning when they're in the imperfect tense or the past tense.

A tutor on Italki, Maria, said:

Attenzione ad alcuni verbi che in italiano cambiano significato se sono usati all'imperfetto o al passato prossimo!

Be careful of some verbs in Italian that change meaning if they're used in the imperfect or past tense!

Per esempio - Sapere

In the present tense,sapere means to know how to do something, to have knowledge of something, or to be able to do something.

  • Abbiamo saputo - We found out, we heard (I imagine this as the gossipy one)

VS.

  • Sapevamo - We knew

And what's lovely is that they're friendly enough to exist together in the same sentence.

Ho saputo che sapeva la verità. - I found out that she knew the truth.

Altri esempi

  • Purtroppo, abbiamo saputo che non è andata così fino in fondo. - Unfortunately we found out that it didn't go that way in the end. [source]
  • Sapevo, soprattutto, che non dovevo innamorarmi di un uomo sposato. - I knew, above all, that I should not fall in love with a married man. [source]

Volere

  • Ho voluto - I wanted

VS.

  • Volevo - I wanted

Ho voluto parlarti stamattina. - I wanted to talk to you this morning (but I was not able to)

Volevo parlarti stamattina. - I wanted to talk to you this morning (and I may have/may have not succeeded)

Ho avuto la reazione che volevo e lo spirito è stato incredibile. - I got the reaction that I wanted and the spirit/energy was incredible. [source]

Ma io non ho voluto andarci, mica c'era qualcosa da chiarire. - But I did't want to go there as there was not anything at all to clarify. [source]

Potere

This one gets kind of confusing, so pay extra close attention.

Hanno potuto - They could [in the past without referencing a specific period of time]

VS

Potevano - They could [in the past referencing a specific period of time]

Italians prefer using the passato prossimo with potere when using a negative context, like you weren't able to do something and the consequences of that are still affecting you in the present.

You would use l'imperfetto with potere in a negative or positive context and gives the connotation that whatever you were/weren't able to do in the past wasn't a matter of ability but of choice AND the consequences that came from those choices stayed in the past and no longer affect you.

HOWEVER, within certain contexts this could surely change.

Altri esempi

  • Potevo fare di meglio - I could do it better (and I made the choice not to do it better) [source]
  • Non ho potuto fare di meglio - I couldn't do it better (I tried to make it better, but I couldn't succeed) [source]
  • E quando mi è arrivata la proposta non ho potuto dire di no. - And when I received the proposal, I couldn't say no. [source]
  • Potevano però continuare a guardare il paesaggio fuori dalla finestra. - They could, however, continue to look at the view from the window. [source]

Your Task: Create two sentences. The first using Sapevo and the second using Ho saputo. Put those sentences in the comments below this podcast episode!

Any questions? Drop 'em in the comments below!

Direct download: ICE_EP59.mp3
Category:Italian -- posted at: 12:38pm PDT