L’Ordine degli Aggettivi in Inglese (una Guida per Italiani)

L’inglese è (arguably) la lingua più difficile del pianeta. Lo studio ogni giorno da anni, non lo so ancora come vorrei, ma vorrei provare ad essere utile lo stesso, illustrando uno dei temi più difficoltosi per italiani (e stranieri in genere). Proporrò la mia maniera di affrontarlo. Continue reading “L’Ordine degli Aggettivi in Inglese (una Guida per Italiani)”

Over 100 Useful Correspondences between Spanish and English Words

As you might have noticed if you study Spanish, most of the words that we encounter in this language have some sort of “related word” in English: beber (to drink) has beverage, sentir (to feel) has sentiment, etc.     
English is so vast, that it has words coming from all over the world, and being aware of this feature can help you to rapidly improve your level when studying almost any foreign language… certainly, Spanish.        
Sometimes, the related word we look for is evident; other times, it is more hidden (“hecho” is related to “fact”); sometimes, the meaning of the related word is more close to the original, in other cases, it is more distant. In some occasions, similar words are not related at all (in meaning or origin… nor both), and we call them “false friends” (Spanish “sin”-without- is not related to the English concept of “sin”, Spanish “red” is not a color, as “pie” is not related to cakes, etc.) It is also wise to be aware of them and spare ourselves an embarrassing situation; as it could happen if you ignored that “embarazada”, the most famous example, in Spanish, does mean “pregnant”, not “embarrassed”.   
In any case, the important thing is to make observations and connections that can help us to remember and retain vocabulary and, in some cases, even enhance the one we use in our own language.

Here, from my years of teaching in a US High-School, I selected 100 cases where a word in Spanish has a more or less evident correlation to one or more in English.    
In order to help fast visualization, in bold red color the Spanish word, next to it is its meaning, and in the next line a more or less detailed explanation and the word (sometimes the group of words) that are related to it in English. When there is more than one option I selected the one that I consider more closely related to the Spanish original. Where I did not use colors the subject is more general than referred to one single word.

Continue reading “Over 100 Useful Correspondences between Spanish and English Words”

A Few Greek Origin Words in English for High-School Students

Knowing the Greek (and Latin) provenance of words we still use is very helpful when it comes to improving language skills and studying other languages because they are shared all over Western Culture and even inside the entire Indo-European family. It is also a wise idea to know them since all their numerous compounds become immediately understandable.              
On this subject, I decided to create my own file, since the options I saw here and there were never really satisfactory. So, here are some Greek origin words we use in English, grouped by initial root.               
This list is loosely organized in alphabetical order.             
The word listed in brackets () contains the same Greek element but not at the beginning of the term.              
The specific meaning of each singular word is for the reader to find out; it will be a fine and fun game, all the necessary knowledge is provided hereafter but inside the [ ] sometimes I provided the literal translation of an original composite word.          
The three periods (…) mean that there are significantly more English words that share that particularly prolific Greek root (such as “cata”, “bio”, “auto”, “psycho”…) you can try to find the missing ones.                
Of course, this list is NOT exhaustive, on the contrary, is very laconic and terribly incomplete, but it was conceived as an introduction to the study and analysis of language for high-school students. Furthermore, I decided to realize it only recalling words by means of memory; this, in order to prove how embedded the Greek language, is in our minds and speaking skills. I limited anatomy, numbers, chemistry, botany, medical terms, and any specialized vocabulary that relies almost exclusively on Greek, to the essential. Which left out interesting roots such as: telos “the end, fulfillment, completion”, phyll-, word-forming element meaning “leaf,” from Greek phyllo-, etc. but we cannot have it all, I guess.
Who is interested in the topic can easily enhance the list with a simple search on the web; while collecting more items, the knowledge, and understanding of English will definitely increase significantly.     
The abbreviation PIE stands for: Proto-Indo-European. All the red text explanations come from Etymological Online Dictionary. When I considered it opportune I simplified the text or interpolated new data.

At the moment, there are 153 clusters and 400 different Greek-origin words.

Continue reading “A Few Greek Origin Words in English for High-School Students”

Tre Terne di Animali Chiamati in Modi Diversi in Italiano, Spagnolo e Inglese

Alcune considerazioni generali

Le lingue indoeuropee, il gruppo di gran lunga più vasto al mondo, e tra esse a maggior ragione quelle romanze, più direttamente imparentate, condividono una percentuale enorme di lemmi di comune origine e per lo più essi indicano oggetti analoghi o connessi.
A volte, va detto, per interessanti avventure, parole simili e di comune origine arrivano ad avere persino significati opposti, come avviene con “black” e “blanco” (forse perché entrambi sono colori comuni al risultato della combustione, la cenere).
Realizzare percorsi e relazioni è interessantissimo e aiuta la consapevolezza linguistica dello studioso. Probabilmente è più facile trovare corrispondenze che non trovarne e anche tra lingue oggi completamente prive di mutua intelligibilità. Tra gli animali, i felini, il gatto, il leone, la tigre, possono essere presi ad esempio di omogeneità lessicale praticamente senza increspature. Continue reading “Tre Terne di Animali Chiamati in Modi Diversi in Italiano, Spagnolo e Inglese”

A Collection of Spanish False Friends, for English Speakers (and vice-versa)

This is a collection of words compiled while giving Spanish language classes in High School. By now, there are 152 entries; I will keep updating the content according to new “discoveries”.

In GREEN the Spanish word
In RED: its English false friend

*** Indicate a fundamental Spanish word
** Indicate an important word
* Indicates a less used word, still fun to include, and worth of consideration Continue reading “A Collection of Spanish False Friends, for English Speakers (and vice-versa)”

Scacchi e Etimi Relativi

Gli scacchi sono il gioco da tavolo con ogni probabilità più largamente diffuso e praticato al mondo; oggi in tutti i continenti è anche uno sport con regole standard, che convivono con una affollata corte di varianti eterodosse di ogni genere, tra cui la selva di scacchi random, famosi specie nella versione proposta dall’ex Campione del Mondo Bobby Fisher (c.d. “960” dal numero di posizioni di partenza possibili), quelli per più di due giocatori, quelli con scacchiere estese, o persino quelli 3D, anche essi in numerose varianti, tra cui una nata da un’idea della prima serie di Star Trek, negli anni ’60 del secolo passato. Continue reading “Scacchi e Etimi Relativi”

A Guide for the Usage of the Italian word: “Cazzo”, for English Speakers (With a Brief Final Note on Italian Blasphemy)

I normally do not like/indulge-in profanities, but I love languages, in all their parts, so let’s go on with this topic that, though it may appear an exaggeration, is an important one, that even allows a glimpse of Italian culture. Continue reading “A Guide for the Usage of the Italian word: “Cazzo”, for English Speakers (With a Brief Final Note on Italian Blasphemy)”

Il “ladro dell’acqua” e “l’ora di vetro”: il Tempo e le sue voci

Il pezzo di seguito nasce da una semplice osservazione.
Noi in Italia le chiamiamo “clessidre”, voce comune dal greco antico, ma in inglese, l’antico strumento di misura del tempo composto da una particolare doppia ampolla di vetro ribaltabile stretta al centro dove può passare della sabbia è chiamato hourglass (ora di vetro), l’altro termine è assai raro. Continue reading “Il “ladro dell’acqua” e “l’ora di vetro”: il Tempo e le sue voci”