Sunday, November 28, 2010

Past perfect progress

I've completed 3 weeks of italian school already and am making good progress. I'm getting more comfortable using the 'past perfect' tense and even won the game we played at school:) An example of this tense in english is to say 'I have learned lots at school'. The word 'have' (in the present tense) is followed by the main verb in past tense (called the past participle). In italian this sentence is 'Ho imparato tanto alla scuola'. This is big progress for me to venture out of the realm of the present tense. I'm eagerly looking ahead in anticipation of the future (tense)!

The other day I returned to the tailor (la sartoria) to pickup my jeans and the lady complimented me on my italian. She said 'parli meglio' (you speak better)! I even asked her in italian if I could use her washroom... using a complete sentence! Posso usare la toiletta? (can i use the toilet?). I don't know if this verb 'usare' (to use) is actually the correct one for this context but it worked.

There are many inconsistencies in verb choices between italian and english. An example, in english we say ' i would like to have a coffee', but in italian they say ' i would like to TAKE a coffee' (vorrei prendere un caffe`). We actually use this for 'taking' medicine but not for 'having' a beverage, although I suppose in the incidence of coffee it could be considered more of a drug. Another example is in english we say 'I'm cold' but in italian you say 'I have cold' (Ho freddo) and the same goes for 'I'm hungry', in italian 'I have hunger' (Ho fame). So maybe instead of 'use' the toilet, they will say 'visit' the toilet or 'meet' the toilet, I don't know but another one of those things I will learn in time.

I have been translating songs with my italian tutor, Valentina, and I'm currently working on a really challenging one, a famous italian song called 'Come Mai'. I had always wished that foreign films were translated literally so that you could understand how the people actually communicate but now I understand why they're not: because if they were in fact translated literally word for word it probably wouldn't make any sense! After speaking only english my whole life it's a huge realization that there are many different ways to relay information using words. It's not just the vocabulary that's different. While my english brain is so comfortable peicing information together in certain ways, the 'brains' of other cultures may work very differently. I really feel like a detective trying to understand many of the sentences in this song, finding one grammar clue that leads to the next to the next. There are also many verb tenses in this song that I'm not yet familiar with, but it's good to have the exposure and start developing an awareness which will one day (hopefully!) progress into an understanding.
I was so happy to try out my blender after recieving the blender attachment in the package from my family last weekend. I had assembled the ingredients to make my beloved green smoothie (fruit + greens) on monday morning and was dreaming of all the yummy combinations I would be making in the days to follow. I plugged it in, pushed the button, and then... the lights went out. Rosie and I proceed to live the next 2 days without power (this is the second time we've had a blackout!) and I ate my apples and spinach as a salad instead of smoothie. In the dark.

Our landlady, Antonella, finally came to our rescue and located the appopriate breaker box (we didn't know where it was, there's like 3 different ones...). However I haven't attempted to use the blender again because I think it may be incompatible voltage or something? Although our power is operating again, the outlet I used the blender in is still dead. I will take it to the electrical appliances store to see if they know. Also the heating in half of our apartment (not my room, thank god!) is gliched. Although it's programmed to turn on at certain intervals during the day, everytime it shuts off, it doesn't turn back on. Now Antonella has given Rosie the instructions to turn on the boiler in the storage room below everytime this happens, but for a few weeks of and on we were without heat and hot water in the kitchen and Rosie's room.

It has really cooled off this week, you can see your breath in the air, and it is an incredibly WET(rainy and humid) cold. I was lucky enough to catch the sun a few times, including one day after class, and I found my favorite spot on Ponte Santa Trinita to soak it up. The pics below are from a church I popped into on my way to the tailor's when I saw a sign that said 'free entrance'. Inside was Ghirlandaio's 'Last Supper' fresco painting along with some modern animal sculptures. My favorite was the giraffe on stilts:) The painting is interesting in part because it was painted to match the perspective of the rounded ceiling.

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