Italy: Language and culture thresholds

Words and phrases I am now able to more or less effortlessly drop into sentences and conversations:

  1. Accidente!
  2. Ma dai!
  3. Figurati!
  4. Ma scherz’!
  5. Che scherz’
  6. Ma come mai!
  7. Magari!
Words I still struggle to correctly integrate and employ:
  1. Comunque
  2. Quindi
  3. Cioe
I’ve completed my initial five-week Italian course, which has run the gamut of topic and conversation, and where I have learned such critical information as:
  1. The Italian for the following: catafalque, fraud, blackmail. threat, graft, racketeering, caporalato, various types of rain and thunderstorms, how to roast a pigeon, Pellegrino Altusi, the problems with windows in historic palazzi, the state of Italian public education, Italian pensions, lordo versus netto, leftover food, the various forms of what we know as “mafia” in America, Principe di Casale, and much, much more.
  2. Speakers of English and Spanish are far too affectionate toward gerundive constructions.
  3. Discussions and further illumination of readings from the liturgical year.
Incan Carnevale
Perhaps my favorite moment to date in class: when the two Argentines pointed out that the first-ever Italian Carnevale (Foiano di Chiana, ca. 1539) occurred well after the arrival to the New World by Europeans, and that indigenous peoples in what is now Peru celebrated an analogous holiday around the same time as Carnevale, so therefore, Europeans must have returned and seeded the idea in Europe based on Incan (Quechua? they didn’t specify) celebrations. Franco pushed back. They were adamant that this was not only possible, but probable. I thought Franco’s head was going to explode.
Viterbo Carnevale

Last, but not least, and for those of you who read the “cenci” post, I learned yesterday that the pastries are cut from dough into rectangular raglike shapes, recalling the wool or cotton rags used to dust or mop, then thrown into the hot oil, then dredged out and thrown together like a heap of rags and dusted (DUSTED) with sugar. A rag, in Italian, is a cencio. I was ordering a rag with my espresso. But the team at Paszkowski did not correct me. Rag, rag, rag. Gimme one of them yummy rags for 80 centesimi, I’ll nibble it with my macchiato, please. 

Topics to come: La Grotta Giusti, Carnevale.

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