False Friends: a Must-Learn List

Illustration from hypebeast.com When I first started to study Italian I was amazed by the number of words I already knew or could very easily guess the meanings. Partly because some of them are similar to Latin (I had studied some Latin at university) but mainly because they are not so different from English words. I remember how happy I was when I was speaking with my Italian friends using beginner’s sentence structures and from time to time throwing in some really fancy advanced level words. What can be simpler than taking a Latin origin English word, putting an Italian sounding ending (-a, -o, -e, -i), adding an article (even if sometimes it’s difficult to decide upon the gender) and using an Italian-like pronunciation? Indipendent becomes indipendente, liberty becomes liberta’ and you can continue like this for ages! Thanks God for inventing Latin! However, trusting this strategy 100% may be dangerous or at least embarrassing. Languages just like living organisms are continuously developing and changing, the words alter their meanings, acquire the new ones, forget the old ones. Obviously in the course of time some significant shifts and changes in meanings happened in both, English and Italian. There are words that look the same, sound almost the same BUT they mean different things. They are called False Friends (Falsi Amici) and they should be included in every student’s ‘a MUST-LEARN’ list 🙂 I add a list of the most common English-Italian false friends and their translations which should be helpful not only for those who study English but also for the English speakers who wish to learn Italian. English...
Italian gestures

Italian gestures

The beauty of human communication lies not only in the complexity of the language used but also in the body language, which very often may express much more than words… In some Asian cultures a simple nod is more significant than a thousand words. I remember my first days in Italy wandering around and trying to find the right street and the right piazza (I didn’t speak much Italian back then). I was observing the people, trying to catch some words, to learn the right intonation for greeting, asking for help or apologising. I was amazed by the amount of unfamiliar gestures used by Italians. No matter if it was a six-year-old playing in the park or a granny trying to figure some new product out in a grocery shop. They all used some hand movements and certain facial expressions I just couldn’t get. It took some time to learn the most common ones. The other day I saw this blog of an Italian animator and storyboard artist Alfredo Cassano. I found these pictures very funny and really helpful for those who want to learn the basics of Italian body language. However, having an italian friend to show the exact movements and explain the subtleties of each of them is a good idea 🙂 Check this out : Alfredo Cassano Italian...

Fairy Tales for Twenty-Somethings

Picture above: John Tenniel illustration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)   It’s so good to have a special friend who with the help of her blog (only in Lithuanian) constantly updates my knowledge on the things that are happening in the world of literature and not only.. Recently she has posted an article about her recent discovery “fairytalesfor20somethings”. I must admit I have never been a particular fan of fairy tales, however these very 2012ish interpretations of famous fairy tale characters, their lifestyles and dilemmas put in one or two sentences have really made me laugh and return back in the world of Alice, Thumbelina, Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan… And here are some of my favourite examples: “It was time to go to bed but cinderella kept reloading her facebook page, hoping one more person would like the link she’d posted to her photography. then another person did,her heart jumped, and she hit reload again.just one more, she thought.” “Peter Pan was feeling like his constant connection to the Internet and social networking sites was having a bad effect on his psyche, so he decided to disconnect and get back to the things he did pre-Internet, really live his life again.  That night, he watched TV for five hours straight.”  “The prince and the pauper unfriended each other on Facebook because neither one could stand the other’s political status updates.” Find out more about the author of these witty tales in the interview . Read and enjoy the fairy tales here .  ...
China Becomes Biggest Market for English Learning

China Becomes Biggest Market for English Learning

Everybody is aware of China’s economic and demographic power, however, not everyone knows how hard Chinese people, especially the young ones, push to learn English. Not only because the new educational system requires everyone to sit a two-day long final exam, 25% of which is English, but also because most of the employers will require some proof (usually TOEFL or IELTS examination) of one’s ability to use English. Currently richer parents start sending their 2-year-olds to private international kindergartens that are popping up all over the country. In the next few years, with the help of generous government funding, all children will be taught English in kindergarten. Private English schools are overbooked and overcrowded. The number of students wanting to take international English examinations is soaring, thus making the application process more complicated than the exam itself. Adults have more difficulty to learn English and still they don’t give up as they know that the future is for the ones who will be able to communicate in English. English for China is a way to get closer to the Western world, it’s a key to its future success, it’s an opportunity to have a better life and create a better world. I think that English is becoming more of a tool, a skill that is essential if one wants to be able to learn, work and travel in the world   where everyone plays in the global context and has to solve global problems. China understands that and embraces English!  ...

English Pronunciation Amazing and Crazy Part 2

Oh, this is my favourite English poem. No, it’s not Shakespeare, it’s much more fun. One thing you have to do is to read it aloud and see what happens 🙂   Dearest creature in creation Studying English pronunciation, I will teach you in my verse Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse. I will keep you, Susy, busy, Make your head with heat grow dizzy; Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear; Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer. Pray, console your loving poet, Make my coat look new, dear, sew it! Just compare heart, hear and heard, Dies and diet, lord and word. Sword and sward, retain and Britain (Mind the latter how it’s written). Made has not the sound of bade, Say—said, pay—paid, laid but plaid. Now I surely will not plague you With such words as vague and ague, But be careful how you speak, Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak, Previous, precious, fuchsia, via, Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir; Woven, oven, how and low, Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe. Say, expecting fraud and trickery: Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore, Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles, Missiles, similes, reviles. Wholly, holly, signal, signing, Same, examining, but mining, Scholar, vicar, and cigar, Solar, mica, war and far. From ‘desire’: desirable—admirable from ‘admire’, Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier, Topsham, brougham, renown, but known, Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone, One, anemone, Balmoral, Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel. Gertrude, German, wind and wind, Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind, Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather, Reading, Reading, heathen, heather. This phonetic labyrinth Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth. Have you ever yet endeavoured To pronounce...