As many of you know, I’m studying Italian. This year, I hope to blog my way through the language. I am going to attempt to post something about Italian, or about my trip through Italian, every day.
For starters, let me explain why I am starting Italian even though I’m in my 40s.
Ironically, it was arguments and debates over Latin pronunciation that inspired me to start learning Italian.
It seems like everyone has an opinion on Latin pronunciation. Should we use the restored classical pronunciation? The English pronunciation? The church pronunciation? Everyone has an opinion, and yet no one has an answer. There is only one thing we can all agree upon. We absolutely must pick on each other for using the wrong pronunciation. Um… okay.
Eventually, I abandoned the Northern European, English, and American argumentative, pointy-headed, academic crowd and looked toward the Italians, and the Catholic Church.
Interestingly enough, they seem pretty calm about the whole thing. They have a pronunciation that appeals to me immensely. They call it the Italian pronunciation, or the church pronunciation.
And here’s the funny thing. The Italians live in Italy. Not sure if you know this, but that’s where the Romans lived. The Catholic Church is based in Rome. Not sure if you’re aware of this, but that’s where the Romans were from.
Just an observation. It’s interesting to me that the Italians, and the Catholic Church quietly move on pronouncing Latin the way they’ve pronounced it for years. Meanwhile, the descendants of the barbaric tribes who invaded Rome can’t seem to agree at all on Latin pronunciation.
Years ago, I discovered this: http://www.bible.is/LTNNVV/Matt/1
Immediately, I begin imitating the Latin pronunciation of these guys.
Over the last several years, I have had a nagging suspicion that learning Italian would actually help me with Latin pronunciation.
Finally, in 2016, I began to study Italian with some real dedication. Turns out, I was right. Italian has shed much light on the pronunciation of Latin. And, there’s a bonus.
Italian is just fun to learn. And, compared to Latin, Italian is easy. In his book, The Loom of Language, author Frederick Bodmer states:
“Of the romance dialects, English-speaking people find Spanish easier than French. Italian is more easy than either.”
He wasn’t the only one to notice. In his book, How to Learn Any Language, Barry Farber writes:
“Italian, I discovered, was Latin with all the difficulty removed. Much as a skilled chef filets the whole skeleton out of a fish, some friendly folks somewhere had lifted all the grammar (at least, most of it) out of Latin and called the remainder Italian!”
These days, when someone asks me when to start Latin, I generally respond with: “Start Latin after you have learned French, Spanish, or Italian. Those languages are easier. Best of all, if you never make it to Latin, you will know French, Spanish, or Italian. If you do make it to Latin, you will find it is much easier after having studied one of those other languages.”
So, how am I doing it? How am I learning Italian?
Well, that will be the subject of many posts to come. For the time being, I will tell you this. Start here: https://www.duolingo.com/.
If that doesn’t work, just go to DuoLingo and use this classroom code: UFTPSZ.
At the moment, my Italian class is simply a place for students to connect with me. I intend to launch a live Italian class this fall. But don’t get your hopes too high. After all, I am nowhere near fluent in Italian. This class will be an experiment. We will basically meet once a week to talk about the transition from Latin to Italian.
For now, DuoLingo.