Learn Italian words: i segnali stradali

I bet many of you are coping with Italian traffic, and I am well aware that driving in Italy can sometimes be a nightmare because Italians… well, let’s just say that we have a very loose concept of “traffic laws”. This is exactly why you don’t need any further distraction or brain teaser while driving in Italy: for that purpose we have just prepared for you an Italian language lesson about all the Italian words you need to get an Italian driving licence and a brand new infographic about road signs in Italy!

Learn Italian words: i segnali stradali

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Learn Italian words: la pasta!

Know your pasta: easier said than done! Italians are so obsessed with their pasta that they actually created a chart to classify every type according to its structure, it’s lenght or its texture: it’s basically a pasta periodic table! That said, it is not surprising that many Italian language students have an hard time to recognize and name even the most common varieties of pasta, due to the fact that Italian words for pasta, although often containing open references to its appearence, usually originate from a dialect word. Moreover, some kinds of pasta have a different name for almost every region, to the point that you might be misunderstood if you ask for stortoni in Rome or maccheroni in Milan.

You might think that internet can help, but this is not always the case. Just take a look at this infographic, available in any major stock photo website.

bad infographic about Italian pasta Mistakes and misspellings in this artwork are so numerous and so hilarious that one could actually think they were made on purpose. Let’s analyze them in details and try to learn some Italian from them:

Nidi di rondie: besides the fact that nidi di rondine are actually a particular way to cook tagliatelle, the author of this infographic just forgot an n.
Lasagnia: In Italian language, the palatal sound (/ɲ/) is never followed by a diacritic i. Thank you, and have some lasagna. 🙂
Funghetto:
pasta names are always plural. And that should be pretty obvious, since in every box you can find many pieces of the same variety of pasta. Just to try to search on Google “funghetto pasta” and “funghetti pasta“: can you spot the difference?
Gobetti rigatti:
the author of this image had so many problems with double consonants! Which is normal and understandable, considering that double consonants in Italian language have an importance which has no equivalent in any other European language. That said, the correct form is gobbetti (from gobba, hunchback) rigati (striped).
Konkilioni:
in the Italian orthography, the stop velar sound /k/ is represented by the letter c, possibly paired with an h when followed by a palatal vowel (e or i). Moreover, this word poses another difficulty for foreign students, since the lateral sound /ʎ/ (similar to the one you find in Spanish caballo) is very specific to Italian language and  is always written using the diacritic sequence gli (as in aglio, figlio, moglie, gli). Therefore, the correct form is conchiglioni.
Kanellone:
again, /k/ sound, double consonants and plural instead of singular. Correct form is cannelloni.
Cornetti rigatti: cornetti
(from corni, horns) rigati.
Elighe:
almost correct, except for the confusion between voiced and unvoiced stop velars, /k/ and /g/. In this case, the sound is unvoiced: eliche (literally fans).

Now, we really want to set the record straight. That is why we prepared a new infographic with our favourite types of pasta in the hope this will help you through the labyrinth of the pasta periodic chart!

Infographic about Italian pasta

Read the original article on www.kappalanguageschool.com!

#SingIt: 10 songs about Rome (and Romans) you’ve probably never heard of

If you’re searching for the right soundtrack for your holiday in Rome or just looking for some themed-song to learn Italian language and culture faster but you’ve definitely had enough with wonder hits like Arrivederci Roma or with Louis Prima babbling some broken Italian words over the swing of a big band, we have something for you! Here’s a list of International and Italian songs that, each one in its own peculiar way, catch the spirit of the Eternal City and will be able to guide you through its discovery.

International songs about Rome

To get you into the mood, let’s start with international songs. Many artists and bands have indeed composed songs about Rome or taken Rome as a symbol, sometimes of decadence, other times of magnificence; at times of corruption and, certainly, of beauty.

Jerry Garcia – When I paint my masterpiece

The lysergic king Jerry Garcia, leader of the Grateful Dead and prominent carachter of the late 60s-ealy 70s counter-culture, have been using to cover this wonderful Bob Dylan composition from at least 1972. The song’s topic is not specifically focused on Rome rather than on an artist’s quest for inspiration, but even if sometimes the description of the city fails to escape usual stereotypes, the first three lines are one of the most powerful and accurate depiction of Rome’s decadence:

Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble
Ancient footprints are everywhere
You can almost think that you’re seein’ double
On a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs

Peggy Lee – Autumn in Rome

This one is definitely a classic, but it differs from other famous hits of the 50s focused on Rome for its delicate, jazzy musical approach and for its songwriting which brings to life nostalgic pictures of golden skies and gentle Mediterranean breezes in opposition to the cold and grey advance of winter in a northern city.

Tom Waits – In the Colosseum

No one better than Tom Waits could have represented the horrible and beautiful display of humanity that used to liven up a night at the Colosseum. Of course, in this case the Anfiteatro Flavio is a mere symbol that Waits uses to revive a theme which he holds very dear: the pointless, chaotic entropy of life.

This Heat – SPQR

Rather than considering the Roman Empire for its magnificence or its cultural influence, post-punk british band This Heat turns it into a dark omen of a dystopian, totalitarian society (for the ones who don’t know it, the acronym S.P.Q.R. stands for Senatus Populusque Romanus). Band leader Charles Hayward describes the lyrics as “a cultural view of history and logic and expedience and how we are inside that, too.”

Phoenix – Rome

With their unique mixture of Easy Listening and Electronic, the french band Phoenix were able to give birth to this danceable hit while still catching one of the party-unfriendly features of Rome: its decadence, opposed to its status of Eternal City.

“While the Coliseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Coliseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall.” [Venerable Bede (c. 673-735) quoting a prophecy of Anglo-Saxon pilgrims]

Italian songs about Rome

Letting alone folk ballads and traditional songs, Italian hits genuinely focused Rome are less than you might think. At least this can be said for the very few songs that are worthy to be remembered and manage to distance themselves from the usual depiction of the city – although Italian stereotypes about Rome differ significantly from foreign ones. Here’s a selection of five Italian songs about Rome that you can also use to learn some Italian.

Colle Der Fomento – Il cielo su Roma

Let’s start our journey with a song that we have already played in the last episode of Aperitalia, our webradio dedicated to Italian language students, for the roman Hip-Hop band Colle Der Formento. The sky above Rome quoted in the title is a big starry entity that observes the dramatic moltitude of lives and experiences that makes Rome a modern Babylon. The song lyrics are focused on the life in the suburbs and in the most popular neighborhoods of the city, mixing a genuine street attitude with an emphatic and somehow nostalgic songwriting.

È nella testa
Tutto qua tutto qua
Comunque resta
Tutto qua tutto qua
È nella testa
Tutto qua
Restano le mejo stelle solo le mejo che dà

Virginiana Miller – L’eternità di Roma

Again, a band which emphasizes the status of “Eternal City”, where eternity stands also for eternal decadence: post rock sextet Virginiana Miller builds up a delicate but yet merciless depiction of this crucible of vices and virtues which is Rome.

Vittime e carnefici
Demoni e pontefici
Polvere su polvere
Di polvere di secoli

Gabriella Ferri – Chitarra Romana

We promised we would have left out traditional and folk songs, but we have to make an exception for the queen of Italian modern folk, Gabriella Ferri. Many of her songs could have been included in this list as she has undoubtedly brought forward the true spirit of Rome. May this beautiful Chitarra romana serve as an example of her outstanding talent.

Claudio Baglioni – Porta Portese

If you don’t know what Porta Portese is, you might want to revisit your schedule for your next Roman holiday to visit this characteristic open air market which is one of the few traditional flea markets that resisted the assault of big shopping mall and standardized shopping. Roman songwriter Claudio Baglioni has dedicated a lovely ballad to this tradition which every Sunday brings back in time a whole area of the city.

Corrado Guzzanti – Grande Raccordo Anulare

Speaking of tradition, we couldn’t leave out the one place which all Romans have in common: the Grande Raccordo Anulare (GRA), the huge circular highway that embraces the whole city and is doomed by an eternal flow of traffic. Comedian Corrado Guzzanti, imitating the famous songwriter Antonello Venditti, offers a picturesque and funny depiction of this sort of urban limbo. Enjoy! 😀

Originally posted on www.kappalanguageschool.com!

Let’s go shopping! An infographic

If you are planning to survive in Italy, you definitely need to know where to go to buy everyday stuff, namely you need to learn Italian words related to shop and small business names. As always, Kappa Language School is here to help you learning the hard stuff in a colorful way: here’s a brand new (horizontal!) infographic you might want to check before going out on your shopping spree in the Belpaese!

Learn Italian words (and grammar): la colazione in Italia!

As every grandma uses to say, “breakfast is the most important meal of all”. And that is indeed true, especially if you consider that generally it helps your body recovering from a night of fasting! So what’s the deal with Italian breakfast?

From a country whose diet is renowned worldwide, with an outstanding variety of ingredients and a cookbook stuffed with delicious recipes, you would expect excellence even when it comes to the first meal of the day. Yet, breakfast in Italy is very different from what many expats and Italian language students would expect, as it is usually a very fast and light meal, the mainstay being a cappuccino or an espresso accompanied by some pastries (cornetti) and, occasionally, corn flakes and cereals (fiocchi d’avena e cereali). In a regular Italian breakfast there is no room for cheese, eggs, beans or bacon, and actually most Italians tend to consider the idea of having a “salty breakfast” (or eating anything salted before midday) quite disgusting.

Even in Italy, of course, you will be able to find bars, pubs and hotels which regularly serve English or American breakfast, but if you really want to get the full Italian experience, you should really try to melt in and have a quick and light Italian breakfast in a local bar, peeking at a quotidiano and catching the occasion to have a chat with Italian natives on the latest news

For all of you who want to be prepared when having your first breakfast in Italy, here’s a new infographic… with a quick grammar overview about si passivante included!

 

Learn Italian words and grammar: breakfast in Italy, Infographic

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.