As a child, Sarah had many penfriends from all over the world: New Zealand, Japan, Turkey, Ethiopia, France, America, Germany, Sweden and more. She wrote and received colourful letters every week and often got sent photos, stickers and little tokens from her penfriends to resemble their countries. One of her penfriends was an Italian boy, Domenico, and Sarah actually got a chance to meet him on a family holiday to Sorrento in Naples when she was 13.
Domenico arrived at her hotel with his entire family in tow, and both families sat down to meet and greet each other. The hotel manager very kindly offered to spend some time with them translating between the families. As Sarah and Domenico already communicated each week by writing in English, this was the easiest option for them, as well as making basic attempts at miming things to try to get their messages across to each other. Considering they had been penfriends for a couple of years, they were both extremely shy at having actually met each other and Sarah felt quite nervous and silly in her attempts at trying to ‘speak’ to Domenico. After a little while, Domenico´s family left with the promise of returning shortly. And sure enough, not long afterwards, they returned with the lovely gesture of a gift from their family to Sarah´s family. It was a beautiful mosaic plate with a brightly coloured peacock on a golden background that glistened in the sunlight. Touched at such a thoughtful gesture, Sarah´s family hugged Domenico´s and thanked them for such an exquisite gift. And that was the last time Sarah saw Domenico…until now.
25 years later, she was going back to Naples and had arranged to meet up with Domenico again. Never having forgotten her embarrassment at not being able to speak to him properly the last time they met, she had enrolled in some fun conversational Italian classes based in Newcastle where she quickly picked up the basics she needed to be able to have a general chat with Domenico. Competitively priced and at a venue to suit her, Sarah was very pleased with these bargain language classes that allowed her to be taught by an Italian speaking teacher. In a very short time, she felt confident that she would be able to hold her own in a one-to-one conversation with Domenico.
With her flight ticket in her hand, Sarah grabbed her passport and suitcase as the cab pulled up outside her home and excitedly closed the door behind her. In just a few hours, she´d be back in the sunshine meeting her lifelong friend, only this time she planned to surprise him by showing off her newly acquired speaking skills. This was going to be the best Italian experience she could ever imagine!
An Italian university has announced it will teach and assess its degree courses in English rather than Italian.
The change will be made from 2014 at the Politecnico di Milano, one of Italy’s leading universities. The university, based in Milan, believes that it will be unable to compete on a global scale if it continues to use the Italian language.
“We strongly believe our classes should be international classes – and the only way to have international classes is to use the English language,” says the university’s rector, Giovanni Azzone.
“Universities are in a more competitive world, if you want to stay with the other global universities – you have no other choice,” says Professor Azzone. (Source: BBC News)
The professor believes other Italian universities will follow suit, as English has become the language of higher education and international business.
What do you think? Should universities teach in their country’s language, or switch to English? What will this change mean for the Italian language?
A cool new application from Google will soon be able to help you translate from written words.
Google Goggles users can point their phone at a word or phrase they wish to have translated, and then fine-tune their onscreen selection to a smaller area. Using the phone’s camera, the application will recognise the language and give you an option to translate it. This makes the application perfect for globetrotters – whether you need a menu or sign translated, you can do so without the hassle of searching through a guide book or dictionary.
The application can only translate languages based on the Latin alphabet such as English, French, Italian, German and Spanish at the moment, but once the text is captured it can be quickly translated to other languages. Google are apparently confident that other languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Hindi will soon be added to the app.
Whilst the app is free, you’ll need a mobile device running Android 1.6 or higher. I’ll definitely be giving this a try on my trip to Italy next month!
It’s that time of year again, when you can’t go near a shop, magazine, or website without seeing some combination of pink, red, and the word ‘Valentine’.
This year we have a little something extra: a survey of language experts has revealed that amour is the most romantic word in the world.
The French word for love beat amore, the Italian word for love, in a poll by London-based Today Translations. The survey also found that Italian was the most romantic language, followed by French, with Spanish and English tied in third place.
And the least romantic way to profess your love? In Japanese: watakushi-wa anata-wo ai shimasu. I suppose it does look a bit wordy!
What are your favourite romantic words?
Yesterday I posted about Christmas songs in different languages, and now it’s time to wish you a very happy Christmas, again in a few different languages! So….
Miilaad Majiid (Arabic), Joyeux Noël (French), Frohe Weinachten (German), Buon Natale (Italian), Meri Kurisumasu (Japanese), Shèng dàn kuài lè (Mandarin), Feliz Natal (Portugese), Feliz Navidad (Spanish), and finally Merry Christmas (UK)!
Try this Omniglot page for more translations in more languages, including some audio recordings.
From all of us at Language Museum, we wish you a safe and happy Christmas. See you in the New Year!