La casa in italiano: an infographic

Have you ever been inside an Italian home? Well, it is probably pretty much like yours, except everything is in Italian!
As usual, we’re here to help: check out our new infographic about Italian words for rooms, forniture and all the thing you can find inside a proper house!

Learn Italian words: la casa in italiano

What happens when you type “Italian” in the YouTube search box

Trying to learn something about a specific culture via YouTube can be tricky and dangerous: one might end up in a Dedalus of stereotypes and misconceptions that will lead to a faulty understanding of such a complex and beautiful expression of humanity. When it comes to Italy and Italians you actually know what’s coming: thousands of videos about recipes and hand gestures and some very bad joke about how Italians do things.

As usual, we’re here to help: this is why our team of social media engineers has performed a deep research on your behalf, trying to spot the most interesting/genuine/disturbing videos about Italians and Italy on YouTube.

Let’s start with a milestone: Peter Griffin turning into an Italian. He actually already did it in the past, and with poor but yet hilarious results. This time McFarlane & friends seem to try setting the record straight, at least linguistically: the Italian-spoken part sounds very genuine, although the whole concept of the video is based on the usual stereotypes concerning more Italian-Americans than Italian-Italians.

Italian Food

In the past 12 months, Buzzfeed has almost literally bombed the audience with videos of people reacting to things or people asking other people silly questions. There is though one video that we can define accurate, and it shows a bunch of young Italians trying US “snacks”. Now, we know we are kinda bitchy about our food, and that might be a flaw sometimes but… how can you call those things? I mean, seriously: pink chips?

On the same page, here’s a very entertaining video showing Italian nonne tasting the (in)famous Olive Garden menu. Just two observations: there are, obviously, two intruders in the video and, dear grandma, merda means literally “shit”, but we know you’re too polite to say that.

Want some real Italian food? Fear not, the YouTube is packed with recipes, some of which are actually genuine.

Italian Music

For the person who’s writing, this subject is kinda sensitive, and I must admit that YouTube results for “Italian music” didn’t fail to confirm my prejudice: the idea that the whole world has of music coming from Italy is stereotyped, outdated and somehow offensive. This, needless to say, is also (or mainly) our fault, as we like to export bright examples of musical putrescence turning them into semi-global events.
Anyway, let’s take a look to these top YouTube results regarding Italian songs and music: just don’t hope for the best.

Music for an Italian Dinner: seriously? Some songs in this cheesy bunch of trite hits are not even Italian. Swing and crooning are definitely NOT part of Italian musical culture.

Best Italian Songs of the decade: “best” according to who? I understand some of these are quite big names in the Italian scene, but honestly Italian rock has much more to offer other than this depressing list copy-paste songs.

Fergie – Be Italian (from “Nine”): I would have gladly ignored this video if it wasn’t for the stereotype of Italian kids confronting prosperous sexuality ad a very young age. Welcome to Italy, where everything is like in a Dolce&Gabbana commercial!

Italian YouTubers

It turned out that Italy has actually produced some pretty famous YouTube stars and influencers. I honestly did vaguely know two of them, and as an Italian I have mixed feelings about how they export, let’s say, Italian lifestyle.

Let’s start with Marzia, showing up with this video in the first page of my YouTube search. She’s the girlfriend of one of the most famous Youtubers in the world, Pewdiepie, and probably one the most famous italian Youtubers too. She seems like a very pretty girl and a pleasant person. I mean, I wouldn’t dislike the world to think that “Italians” are this way. Btw the video is kinda fun at the beginning and then becomes boringly dumb.

Greta Menchi popped out of the YouTube world because of a controversy: she has been nominated as a member of the jury at the last Sanremo Festival, arousing the indignation of some web bullies who thought she was not skilled enough for the job (as if one needed to be skilled to take part to Sanremo…).

The great Gianluca Vacchi is an Italian mystery: self-proclaimed viveur, he is actually CEO of a big firm and apparently spends his life on a boat wearing a pareo and dancing like a tourist resort entertainer. I kinda like the guy, although his videos carry an idea of “Italianity” that doesn’t exist in real life.

Italian Language

And here we are in my area of expertise! Fear not, I won’t bore you with Italian language tips or grammar. As a proof of my good intentions, here’s a small introduction:

Simply the best scene EVER about foreigners coping with Italian language.

And here it comes the weird stuff: picking up speaking Italian. Apart from the fact that the guy doesn’t even speak Italian properly, this technique seems to work fine, although sometimes he seems to slip into sexual harassment.

20 Italian words you are saying wrong: about time, finally our American and British friends will understand how to pronounce grazie correctly! 😀

I wouldn’t even dare to comment this: it’s Monty Python, therefore it’s amazing by definition.

Italian Hand Gestures

Interesting topic, isn’t it? Although non-verbal communication is a part of every language, Italians seem to rely on that massively: this is why an Italian language students will definitely need some guidance! YouTube is actually packed with videos illustrating Italian gestures, so help yourselves. And yes, the first video is from Dolce&Gabbana, and it’s superb.

Want some more? Check out our infographic about Italian gestures!

Italian Culture

Sailing the sea of misconceptions about Italian culture I encountered two videos which seem to be encouragingly accurate, the first from an Italian Youtuber, the second from Tia, an half-Jamaican, half-Nigerian, American born girl with a lovely accent and a very fun attitude.

WTF area

Yes, there are strange videos too. Like this first one, that shows Italian cops (presumably) trying out a bulletproof vest.

This is weird and I don’t even know why it has so many views, especially considering that in Italy we tend not be that much into guns.

If you follow us, you already know the guy: Italian Spiderman, not really Italian and yet simply MAJESTIC.

Indeed, Kobe Bryant is amazingly fluent in Italian. Didn’t you know that? He was born and partially raised in the Belpaese while his father, Joe Bryant, was playing for Italian teams.

 

And with this last firework ends our short playlist of YouTube videos about Italians and Italian Culture. If you liked it, please share and comment with your own suggestions!

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

 

Learn Italian Words: la famiglia!

Family, in Italy, is a big deal: we all know that. This is why, for an Italian language student, wading through Italian kinship terms can be really challenging. But hey, that’s exactly the reason why we’re here!
Check out this brand new infographic about Italian kinship terms and learn how to properly address your nonna in Italian (getting some treat in return!). 🙂


Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Parola di Dio: 13 common Italian expressions taken from the Bible

Although Italy is officially a work-based secular state, Italian language and culture are scattered with open references to the Judaic and Christian traditions. The Bible itself, having been the one and only source of education for centuries, seems to be a neverending source of idioms and forms of speech. Even without embracing any particular confession, we thought it would be a good idea to collect 13 of the most common idioms taken from the Book of Books.

1. Fare da capro espiatorio (to be a scapegoat).

We tried to start with an easy one since this form of speech is also present in English and in many other Indo-European languages (Benjamin Malaussene, anyone?). The expression comes directly from the Jewish tradition, mentioned in Leviticus 9:15, of sacrificing a goat as a ritual of purification during the Yom Kippur. Passing from the original meaning to the modern one of being a person unfairly blamed for some misfortune doesn’t require too much effort.

2. Essere una manna dal cielo (to be a boon).

Manna (or Mana) was an edible substance that, according to the Bible (Exodus 16:1-36 and Numbers 11:1-9) and the Quran, God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert.
This image is so deeply rooted in the Italian language that one could actually use this expression to cheer up when something good (and yet unexpected) happens: è proprio una manna dal cielo!

3. Occhio per occhio, dente per dente (eye for an eye).

This very common expression is a direct reference to the law of retaliation (legge del taglione in Italian), the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree. In a wider sense, this expression is used whenever one is seeking some form of revenge.

4. Seminare zizzania (to drive a wedge, to sow discord).

Credit: Photo by Franco CaldararoThis one comes from the Gospel of Matthew, in which we can find the Parable of the Tares (Parabola della zizzania). Tares is actually darnel, a type of grass\weed that ruins crops, and it is used here as a metaphor for the struggle between the spiritual children of Christ (the good seeds) and the unbelievers (the tares).

5. Vendersi per un piatto di lenticchie (to sell yourself for a mess of pottage).

In the Book of Genesis 25:29-34 we find the two sons of Isaac, Esau and Jacob. The latter, one day, offered his brother the sale of his birthright in exchange for a lentil soup. The expression is often used to describe the action of giving away something of profound value for goods of derisory nature.

6. Restare di sale (to be flabbergasted).

Again in the Book of Genesis 19:1-26 is told the dramatic story of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by God for being consumed by vice and idolatry. The expression makes reference to the fate of Lot’s wife, who was told not to look back while escaping from the cities. The woman disobeyed and was turned into a pillar of salt. The idiom is currently use to express disbelief or surprise (“alla notizia, sono rimasto di sale!”).

7. Gigante dai piedi d’argilla (giant with clay feet).

This expression comes from the Book of Daniel in which the prophet tells about the dream of King Nabucodonosor: a giant statue with golden head, silver chest, bronze legs and, as a matter of fact, clay feet. Today this form of speech is a metaphor for something huge (such as a corporation or a party) which does not have steady foundations.

8. Essere il beniamino (to be the favourite).

Beniamino (Benjamin) was Jacob’s last and favourite son. Therefore, in Italian, essere un beniamino means being someone’s pupil: a very good football player can be il beniamino dei tifosi, or a famous actor can be il beniamino del pubblico and so on.

9. Niente di nuovo sotto il Sole (nothing new under the Sun).

One of the most poetic and intense books of the Old Testament, the Book of Qoelet (1:9) is responsible for this sometimes abused quote (nihil sub sole novum in latin), which is used to indicate an unchanging (and unchangeable) situation.

10. Servire due padroni (to be a two-timer).

Although brought to fame by playwright Carlo Goldoni and his Arlecchino, this expression comes from the Gospel of Luke (16:13): “One cannot serve two masters, nor two mistresses”. The meaning is clear: the idiom is used as a reference to a double-crosser, a two-timer.

11. Gettare le perle ai porci (casting pearls before swine).

We find this expression in Matthew 7:6, meaning “to give things of value to those who will not understand or appreciate it”.

12. Muoia Sansone con tutti i Filistei (let Samson die with the Philistines).

The Book of the Judges (16:18-21; 28-30) tells the story of Samson, an Israelite judge who performed feats of strength against the Philistines but was betrayed by Delilah, his mistress. Blinded by revenge, Samson decided to destroy Philistines temple with his bare hands, although he knew he would die too. The idiom is often used in reference to someone who doesn’t hesitate to harm him or herself if it helps hurting others.

13. Essere un Giuda (to be a Judas).

The figure of Judas is commonly used (not exclusively but very widely in the Italian language) to indicate a traitor. Along with his name, the expression per trenta denari (for 30 pieces of silver) indicating the amount of money earned by Judas to betray Jesus Christ, is often used.

So this was our list, but please feel free to integrate it and suggest new idioms in the comments!

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Amen. 😀

Not just Venezia: where to celebrate “Carnevale” in Italy

The history of Carnevale is long and interesting, and in fact it has its roots in the ancient times, when, during, feasts like the Saturnalia in the Roman age or the Dionysia for the ancient Greeks, common people had the occasion, for just one day, to switch their social roles with the dominant class. As for the term, it directly descends from the late latin CARNE LEVAMEN, indicating the last night during which meat could be consumed before Lent.

As you can see, the whole concept of Carnevale is deeply rooted in the Italian territory and Italian Language and Culture, hence the presence of a flourishing and multi-colored tradition all along the Belpaese (and its main island).

Carnevale di Acireale (Sicilia)

carnevale di acireale barocco

Not only music and parades but also delicious traditional food! All this in the stunning scenario of one of the gems of the Sicilian Barocco.
Traditional mask: Abbatazzu.

Carnevale di Cento (Ferrara) - Carro allegoricoCarnevale di Cento (Emilia Romagna)

Huge floats (up to 20 meters!), spectacular parades and the tradition of the gettito (basically a public giveaway of gifts and gadgets thrown from the carnival floats) are the main features of this carnival, which is also twinned with the Rio de Janeiro celebration.
Traditional mask: Tasi, which is burned on the last day of celebrations.

Landzette carnevale coumba freidaCarnevale di Coumba Freida (Valle d’Aosta)

Held in a francophone territory, the “carnival of the cold valley” commemorates the passage of Napoleonic soldiers represented in traditional dressings and wooden masks.
Traditional mask: Landzette.

musica arabita fano carnevaleCarnevale di Fano (Marche)

The most ancient carnival in Italy (and one of the most ancient in Europe), the first edition of this feast dates back to 1347. Just as in Cento, the getto is the main event here, together with a very unusual concert of Musica Arabita, played (just like Einsturzende Neubauten would have done!) with cutlery and tin cans.
Traditional mask: Vulon

carnevale di ivrea battaglia delle aranceCarnevale di Ivrea (Piemonte)

This carnival is actually the commemoration of a very particular rebellion against the tyranny of the ius primae noctis, which is allegorically set about with oranges thrown by the crowd.
Traditional masks: il Tiranno and Violetta la Mugnaia.

madonna di campiglio carnevale asburgicoCarnevale di Madonna di Campiglio (Trentino Alto-Adige)

The wonderful scenario of the Dolomiti is the set of this princely celebration which derives directly from the Asburgic Carnival (still celebrated in Austria).
Traditional masks: Princess Sissi and Francesco Giuseppe.

carnevale di mamoiada mamuthones e issohadoresCarnevale di Mamoiada (Sardegna)

One of the most characteristic carnivals of the country, this celebration focuses on the folkloristic characters of Mamuthones and Issohadores, in an allegoric representation of the life of shepherds. Dressing up Mamuthones is an event by itself, since they have to carry on their backs up to 30kg of cowbells!
Traditional masks: Mamuthones and Issohadores.

meneghino-la-maschera-simbolo-del-carnevale-ambrosiano1Carnevale di Milano (Lombardia)

Celebrated right after all the other carnivals have ended, this feast actually starts on the Mardi Gras and goes on for a whole week, commemorating S. Ambrogio and his pilgrimage.
Traditional mask: Meneghino.

carnevale_putignano carro allegoricoCarnivale di Putignano (Puglia)

From far north to far south, this carnival, besides being of the Europe’s first, is also a fierce contest between renown masters of papier-mache. Starting from January, 17th (feast of S. Antonio Abate), every Thursday is focused on a satirical representation of one particular social class, sparing literally no-one, not even the cornuti (husbands who have been cheated).
Traditional mask: Farinella.

venezia-maschere-carnevaleCarnevale di Venezia (Veneto)

And here we are: this is probably the most famous carnival in Italy, a succession of parades and events in the majestic scenario of a city lost in time. No further comment needed!
Traditional mask: Baùta.

danza_del_dragoCarnevale di Viareggio (Toscana)

Arguably second only to Venezia in terms of fame, this carnival is characterized by huge allegoric floats of papier-mache. The position of Viareggio, easily reachable and very close to landmarks such as Firenze and Pisa, brings thousands of tourists every year to the parades.
Traditional mask: Burlamacco.

And what about Rome?

The Eternal City doesn’t host a historical carnival, but you can find several events scattered all over the city, especially during the night of Mardi Gras and Jeudi Gras. Check out this year’s event here and don’t miss our Carnival party tonight!

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

 

Learn Italian words: gli animali

Hello everybody, it’s time for a new infographic to learn Italian words!

Animal names in a foreign language might not be that obvious and are actually one of the most problematic section of the Italian vocabulary for many Italian language students. Many of these names are actually used in common Italian idioms and sayings. A few examples:

  • Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio (the wolf changes its fur, but never changes its behavior)
  • Can che abbaia non morde (barking dog doesn’t bite)
  • A caval donato non si guarda in bocca (don’t look a gift horse in the mouth)
  • Essere una pecora nera (to be a black sheep)
  • Avere occhi di falco (to have hawk’s eyes)
  • Ripetere a pappagallo (to repeat like a parrot)

Here you’ll find some animal names in Italian divided into categories: pets, farm animals, forest animals, mountain animals and a selection of birds.

Enjoy!

learn Italian words: animals and pets

Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.

Learn Italian words: il Natale in italiano, un’infografica!

Our glorious season of infographics about the Italian language couldn’t be complete without presenting at least some of the most used Italian words regarding winter holidays and Christmas!

Enjoy and… buone feste da Kappa Language School!

Learn Italian words: il Natale in italiano
Read the original article on Kappa Language School’s website.