Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why I Studied and Continue to Study Italian

I first studied Italian, because it is the language of my father's parents. They came here as children, and they didn't speak Italian with their own children (I can only imagine that WWII had something to do with that). I grew up knowing that my dad regretted not knowing Italian, and when I got to Smith College I enrolled in intensive beginner Italian with the goal of spending a year of my undergraduate studies in Italy. For most of my 20s and early 30s, I didn't use my Italian much. When my first daughter Alessia was born, I decided to try to speak a little Italian with her every day. Now I learn Italian with my girls. I keep studying Italian, because it is the language of my grandparents, and because of the ways that English and Italian words relate to each other. My English is richer with meaning, because of my Italian.
A parasol is for the sun (per il sole) and my umbrella makes shade (ombra). When water falls (cascare) it is a cascade, and when a man falls (cadere), he becomes a cadever. A porter brings (portare) my stuff. When my hunger (fame) is big, I am famished. My hands (mani) get a manicure, and my feet (piedi) a pedicure. With my arms (braccia), I can embrace someone. The nurse holds my wrist (polso) to take my pulse. My bellybutton (ombellico) is what is left of my umbillical cord. A jellyfish (medusa) is beautiful and mythic...

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