December 5, 2009 | Italian

The Mind on Fire

My brain is happy.

This morning I got up and went to Café Margot all grubby. I have been trying not to do that so much anymore. Go out in the world grubby, I mean. It is only marginally acceptable in Starbucks, which is…

December 6, 2009 | Italian

Pimsleur Miles Pay Off

Dr. P. helps me win a trophy!

Today, for only the second time in my life, I won a road race: the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk in Prospect Park. Yeah, it was a really small race. Yeah, it was held the same day as…

December 7, 2009 | Italian

Stress Over Syllable Stress

How the hell do you know where the stress goes in all those Italian verbs?

I am grumpy today because none of the books I own help much with syllable stress in Italian verb conjugations, so I am constantly getting hung up trying to figure out how to pronounce them. It’s as though the…

December 10, 2009 | Italian

Italian: Weird Words, and Practical Applications

One way Italian is weird, and one way Italian is useful.

The Italian plural of the word “the” shows up in various forms in Italian: le (plural feminine), i (plural masculine), and gli (too complicated to explain right now, but it is pronounced more or less as lyee). I find the…

December 12, 2009 | Italian

On Mind, Body, and Subjunctive

Italian subjunctive and I meet for the first time.

I woke up early, and went running, and found myself confronting a mind-versus-body kind of challenge: now that I am running faster, I don’t really feel like listening to VocabuLearn on my Central Park circuit. Here’s the thing.…

December 13, 2009 | Italian

It’s Okay to Be a Grammar Geek

How to have fun on a Saturday night.

This afternoon I devoted quite a bit of time to cleaning and errands. Things are chaotic around here, because I’ve done so much Italian in recent weeks and so little of anything else. Tonight I went to a holiday…

December 15, 2009 | Italian

Vocabulary, Grammar, and Gynecology

In Italy you know where you stand with another person (or so says my vocabulary book).

An appointment with the gynecologist—one of my least favorite life events, even though my doctor is lovely—was made much more agreeable today by the Barron’s book Mastering Italian Grammar. I found it soothing to read up…

December 16, 2009 | Italian

On Exclamation Points and Work

Italian seems to have a lot of exclamation points.

On Sunday I met a runner at my Van Cortlandt Park race who happens to work for an Italian company. I told him I was looking for unpaid, short-term work where I would get exposure to Italian. He was kind…

December 17, 2009 | Italian

Body Care, Italian Style

My vocabulary book doesn't shy away from intimate subjects.

I have been continuing with flashcards and my vocabulary book, McGraw-Hill’s Italian Vocabulary, by Daniela Gobetti. I love this book. It is idiosyncratic, modern, and also sometimes wicked and dark. Today, I learned how to say, “Madam, do you…

December 17, 2009 | Italian

Challenges in Italian Pronunciation

You'd think English loan words would make other languages easier to learn.

Italian has borrowed numerous words from English—for example, il computer, il leader, and il nylon. Initially, as a native English speaker trying to learn Italian, I thought this seemed like a great thing, but it is actually kind of…