November 5, 2009 | Italian

I Love Italian

I love Italian so much it is hard to stop studying and go to bed.

All I want to do all day long is study Italian, but life intrudes. I did manage, however, to begin my morning with a big dose of Italian studies accompanied by a big dose of coffee at Café Margot.

A Major Attraction at Margot. I Look But Don't Touch.

Over the past couple of days, I have been having a lot of trouble figuring out which syllable to stress in certain Italian words, particularly verbs, but I have now remembered that dictionaries can help with that. They don’t help with stress in the various conjugations of a verb, but at least I can determine which syllable to stress in the infinitive. The VocabuLearn verb CD is also helping. It seems to me that some of the -ere verbs are the ones that have stress in surprising places: for example, correre (“to run,” pronounced CORR eh ray), which I have been mispronouncing corr EH ray

I did a lot of grammar exercises today in the large Italian Now! grammar book. I like it pretty well. The other ones are a little overwhelming, because they appear to have been constructed for people who actually know something. I’ll go back to those after I get a little further in this more basic one.

Tonight I had a transcendent language-learning experience. I did about five Pimsleur lessons, all in a row, without stopping. I kept going, even though you’re not supposed to do so many at once, because I kept getting everything right. In just five days, I have already finished lesson 26 (Level I). And it has been so much fun. I can’t believe it. I am going to finish Level I in a week and will probably start Level II by tomorrow night. Incredible. Because of the snafu with Arabic Level I, and because Arabic is difficult, it took me a whole month to finish the first level. But with Italian, almost everything I am learning is already vaguely familiar from (a) Spanish and (b) the grammar books I am working on.

I find the language intensely beautiful and pleasurable to speak. I have wanted to learn Italian since I was in college. It always felt like a hole that I didn’t know any. What makes the experience even better is that while studying Arabic I finally learned the rolling r. In my Italian-induced euphoria, I am now getting a little bit carried away with my r-rolling, to the point that it is becoming kind of silly (and probably just wrong), but my feeling is that there are worse language sins than overrolling one’s r’s, and my tongue could use the practice. 

At 1 a.m., as I was doing grammar exercises, I made a new rule that I have to stop studying Italian by midnight. Otherwise I won’t do anything but Italian, and it is too hard to wind down after intensive grammar exercises.

We’ll see how long I follow that rule.

Comments (2)

Kris L. • Posted on Mon, August 19, 2013 - 7:45 pm EST

Any pointers on that “rolling r”?  Some dialects in German also use the rolling r’s as well as Spanish!

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Mon, August 19, 2013 - 8:02 pm EST

No, not really any pointers. I just kept trying and it finally worked. It wasn’t easy!

R’s, rolled or unrolled, are challenging in many languages. Particularly funky things seem to happen to that r-like sound!

Now that I haven’t been rolling my r’s for a while (the only time I spoke Italian recently was in a dream), my skills have again deteriorated. I am confident that rededicating myself to my r-rolling this fall - as is my intention - will result in recovered ability.

Just keep rolling, is all I can say, and eventually I expect your tongue will be more cooperative. Keep me posted!

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