New Year, New Language – discovering Italy through its words and phrases

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to learn a new language, or just to try something different and …

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If one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to learn a new language, or just to try something different and open yourself to new experiences, why not start with Italian?

The Italian language is one of the most beautiful in the world, and the many traditional sayings from across the country give some insights into the character and priorities of its people.  By learning Italian you’ll also learn all about its culture.

Italian is one of the Romance languages, one of the languages that evolved from the spoken form of non-classical Latin between the third and eight centuries.

It’s also known as the language of music, because many of its words and phrases pop up in opera and in musical terminology, just think of the words pianissimo (very soft); acapella (choral) and pizzicato (plucked).

Then there’s love – amore.  Where would we be without the romance that the Italian language offers, from the word for love itself to the melodic pronunciation of the language with its warm vowels, rolled ‘r’ sounds and flowing rhythms.

Throughout Italy, different dialects may be spoken, with various regions having their own specific sayings, but across the country Italian share many of the same sayings and have a wonderfully expressive way when speaking their language.

As well as learning simple numbers, days of the week and greetings – the starting points of most language learning – you can gain an insight into the culture of Italy by learning some of its sayings.  Unsurprisingly, food, love and family crop up a lot in traditional proverbs and sayings.

Sprinkle some words and phrases, such as the ones below, into your conversation either at home or the next time you visit Italy and you might also make new friends who will talk back to you, help your pronunciation and teach you even more of the language.  Learn to speak Italian and you’ll soon discover that a love of the language will help you fall in love with the country and its culture even more.

Some of our favourite Italian phrases and sayings and some simple words worth knowing: 

Ciao – hello

Buon giorno – good morning

Buona notte – good night

Grazie – thank you

Per favore – please

La dolce vita – the sweet life

Una buona mamma vale cento maestre – a good mother is worth a hundred teachers

Hi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire  – no matter where you go or turn, you’ll always end up at home.

A ogni uccello il suo nido è bello – every bird finds his own nest beautiful (this is the Italian equivalent ‘home sweet home’.

Passeggiata – this stems from the Italian verb ‘passeggiare,’ meaning to stroll or take a slow walk, emphasis on the slow, a traditional evening amble.

And always bear in mind this famous quote by the father of the Italian language, Dante.  In modern Italian, it would be written as Noi non possiamo avere una vita perfetta senza amici. Even in the 13th century, friendship was of central importance in Italian life!

Noi non potremo avere perfetta vita senza amici – we can’t have a perfect life without friends