Monday, November 21, 2016

Tha Catalan language in Sardinia

Italy has a number of linguistic enclaves, including those where German, French, Greek or Albanian are spoken. Of these, only the German-speaking area (Alto-Adige/Suedtirol) in northeastern Italy has a strong chance of surviving linguistically. This is due to their numbers, and to their history of social and political action.

The New York Times has an article today on a little-known language minority, the speakers of Catalan in Alghero (hard g, accent on the second syllable.) Alghero (in the photo above) is a small city in northern Sardinia.

Not familiar with Catalan? It is a Romance language originating in Catalonia in northern Spain, but it is not a dialect of Spanish, it is a separate language of which the Catalans are very proud and protective. Here's a sample:

Tots els éssers humans neixen lliures i iguals en dignitat i en drets. Són dotats de raó i de consciència, i han de comportar-se fraternalment els uns amb els altres.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. 
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

And here is a man from Alghero speaking the local dialect of Catalan:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Anna Magnani, cat lady

Anna Magnani is one of the all-time greats of Italian cinema, and an Academy award winner. But more importantly, she was a gattara, that is, a cat lady. Specifically, a gattara is a person (usually female) who feeds and otherwise looks after stray cats. A male, a cat dude, would be called a gattaro.

The great actress lived near Largo di Torre Argentina in Rome, site of important ancient ruins. She would go out in the evening with a basket full of food, a scarf on her head in an attempt to disguise herself (to humans). The square is still a hangout for kittehs, who now have an all-volunteer cat sanctuary to look after them.

Check out Anna in her day job as actress in Rossellini's neo-realist masterpiece, Rome Open City (the scene contains a spoiler).

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sports vocabulary

Many of us are following the Olympics, in which the Italians are doing well even as I write. They often do well in the Olympics. So let's take a little look at the names of some basic sports terms in Italian. In no particular order... although my favorite sport just happens to come first.

Nuoto. Swimming.

Staffetta. Relay.

Stile libero, rana, farfalla/delfino, dorso. Freestyle, breaststroke (literally frog), butterfly, backstroke.

Tuffi. Diving.

Atletica. Track and field.

Salto. Jump.

In alto, in lungo, con l'asta. High, long, pole.

Corsa. Running.

Scherma. Fencing.

Tennis. (same)

Calcio. Soccer.

Football americano. Football.

Baseball. (same)

Badminton. (same)

Basket/pallacanestro. Basketball.

Canoa/kayak. Canoe/kayak.

Ciclismo. Cycling.

Ginnastica. Gymnastics. (in everyday Italian the word means "exercise.")

Equitazione. Equestrian/horseback riding.

Sci ("shee"). Skiing.

Discesa, fondo. Downhill, cross-country.

Pattinaggio. Skating.

Pallamano. Handball.

Canottaggio. Rowing.

Vela. Sailing.

Hockey. (same)

Su ghiaccio, su prato. Ice, field.

Pallavolo. Volleyball.

Beach volley. (same)

Pallanuoto. Water polo.

Pesi. Weightlifting.

Tiro. Shooting.

Tiro con l'arco. Archery.

Golf. (same)

Rugby. (same)

Boxe/pugilato. Boxing.

Trampolino. Trampoline.

Lotta libera. Wrestling.

I imagine I've left out someone's favorite sport and that someone may be mildly resentful. Someone should go to the dictionary and look it up.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Italian proverbs- meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani

The proverb meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani literally means that it is better to have an egg today than a chicken tomorrow. This obviously indicates that it is better to have a sure thing in the present than expect a better outcome in the future that might not come about. It's the equivalent of "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Obviously the Italians never paid much attention to this proverb or else they would have consumed all the eggs before they hatched and chickens would have become extinct, taking all future eggs with them. No frittata. No pollo al mattone. Che disastro.

For my little compilation of Italian food expressions, see here.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Altan describes 2016

My favorite Italian cartoonist, Francesco Tullio Altan, must have foreseen 2016.

Man- Democracy is in danger.
Woman-Let's hope someone comes and helps it.