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So, how is the Italian going?

March 17, 2014

Fine, thanks. By the third level of Pimsleur Italian, they figure you must be really motivated and very smart, so the gloves come off. They throw at you lots of very complex sentence structures, including conditional ones like, “I would have gone to New York, but…” 

Each lesson is only 30 minutes long, but I have to take several breaks to maintain the level of focus necessary to absorb all the new information being thrown at me. It usually takes me at least an hour to get through a half hour lesson.

On the positive side, I am really learning a lot of Italian. I understood at least half of the Italian in La Grande Bellezza  , the recent Oscar award winner. And goodness knows that is one tough challenge! For one thing, the Italian is, of course, at native speed, which for Italian is damn fast. But even more difficult is the non-thematic nature of the film. That is to say, with no story at all, you have no idea what the next sentence out of each character’s mouth is going to be. It could be him asking about the lemon in his hand, it could be some philosophical musing on the nature of life that I don’t even understand in translation.

By the way, one of the interesting things about learning another language is that it enables you to experience another culture. And Italian movies wouuld never get made here. They tend to be, if not Mafia movies, artsy, meandering, surrealist, and very non-thematic. A tough challenge for someone learning Italian.

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