May 20, 2012 | Review Period
Life With a Grammar Soundtrack
Grammar and vocabulary questions, musings, and observations.
Earlier this week I finished Level IV of Pimsleur for both French and German, and now I am almost done with Italian.
I know it may sound mindbogglingly dull to redo so many lessons, but I don’t find that at all. By the time I finish, I will have repeated Levels II to IV for Italian (70 lessons), and also done levels III and IV for German and French (for a total of 80 lessons). It’s been a great way to wake up in the morning, and also to wander around town, do laundry, go grocery shopping, and so on.
I still haven’t done any for Spanish. Maybe I’ll try, but probably not. I just don’t think Pimsleur will help me that much with my Spanish.
By the way, if I do Pimsleur lessons right before going into my volunteer shift at the Official NYC Information Center, I find it kind of wakes up my brain for whatever languages I review, and I then tend to do a little better in helping the tourists.
Okay, now some random stuff.
I think this is a cool word in French: ancêtre (ancestor). I like the tre sound at the ends of words in French, and although diacritical marks are a pain to type, I am partial to the circumflex. Another cool word is huitre (oyster). I just like saying it.
A Neighborhood Market: Italian Names Are Everywhere in New York
I have been continuing with my Italian Verb Tenses book, by Paola Nanni-Tate. I have done this one before. I love this book, despite the fact that it really is not at all well-edited. Lots of mistakes. But it is fun. And the exercise design is quite good overall. I am actually quite partial to books focusing on verbs. I hope that means I am very action-oriented, but in any case, if I don’t have verbs, I feel totally non-functional.
I am not a person who can take simple present tense and substitute it for all my verb needs.
I just love Italian. I really, really do.
I find this observation funny: “In Italian, exclamation marks are used much more often than in English.” I’m sure I found it funny the last time I read it, too, but I have no recollection of that. I do like enthusiasm, and exclamation points are often enthusiastic.
I just love Italian! I really, really do!
See what I mean?
Also amusing to me is that a few pages later this same book taught me suonare il giradischi (play the record player). We are talking pretty old-school vocabulary here.
Last week while talking to my father by phone, I found out something that truly amazed me: I learned that he uses vos, not tú, for informal singular second-person in Spanish. (He was born in Argentina, and his Spanish is Argentinian.) I had no idea he didn’t use tú. I was pretty amazed that I didn’t know that about my own father! I have heard him speak Spanish many times, and I never noticed.
This kind of thing makes me question my powers of observation.
I am realizing that there are many things I never learned about Spanish and its varieties. In general, when you learn in a class, you are given an impression of greater linguistic homogeneity than often exists in the real world.
Okay, here’s an Italian question: farsi la barba is “to shave” in Italian. But barba is “beard.” What do you say if a woman is shaving her legs?
I have been listening to Gotye while doing grammar exercises. I find Gotye highly compatible with grammar study. He makes me conjugate faster; I simply race through exercises. There has been other music like that over the past three years as well, that creates a good, hyperactive grammar-exercise rhythm. Usually music is too distracting, but sometimes it is just plain right.
Another Italian question: Nanni-Tate writes, “The present perfect of intransitive verbs—those that do not take a direct object—is formed by combining the present tense of essere and the past participle of the verb.”
Soon after reading that, I came across hai pattinato, “you have skated,” so pattinare is being used with avere, not essere. Then I also saw ho viaggiato (I have traveled) elsewhere. Viaggiare and pattinare are intransitive, so this grammar guideline needs further refining, no?
Back to French: I see that surnom in French is “nickname.” How weird. So although “surname” in English came from French, the words ended up meaning something rather different. A linguistic parting of the ways!
The word “name,” however, is very similar from one language to the next: nome (Italian), nombre (Spanish), Name (German), nom (French)…and of course there is “name,” in English.