July 4, 2007

Rogito ergo sum

I met with Alex yesterday for my Italian lesson. Not having done any homework.....I brought along my "Cross-Cultural Tools" workshop presentation to translate into Italian.

We started with the word, "tools", hmmmm, could be strumenti or abilità or capacità. We decided on strumenti because I try to get across the idea that cross-cultural concepts can actually be used, like hammers and saws, to build understanding and cross-cultural competence.

We decided to use cononscenza reciproca for "understanding" and threw in sviluppare le vostre capacità di dialogare con altre culture. Nice.

And so on. I am going to write it up for our next session.

Last time we talked about how Italians consider their language. He called it, "il culto del bello", that phrases have to sound nicely. He said that I have to concentrate on the "musicality" of the language when writing, not just the sense of the phrase, but its sensual impact. "Musicalità dà efficacia".

Then we got into a discussion on rules. "English", he said, is free yet not anarchic at all, while Italian is full of rules yet anarchic in practice." Seems to me that language both reflects and nourishes Italian social and political life! I read somewhere that Italy has more laws on the books than any other industrialized nation, not to much effect.

"In addition," he continued, "it is important to add "salt" to a text, use precise terms and when possible throw in a few Latinisms (to show your social and educational status). We would call this "putting on airs".

I found an example in yesterday's La Repubblica newspaper in a letter from the public on "l'abolizione dell'Ici e un libro di Tolstoj" or the abolition of property taxes and a book by Tolstoy. It was a nice letter saying that we should all learn a lesson from Ivan Ilic and worry more over our souls than the "ici" tax. In the middle of the text, I found, "siamo il popolo dell'immaginazione al podere, del rogito ergo sum e spendiamo i fine settimana al centro commerciale." There it is, a Latinism -- love it!

a domani,

No comments: