La Bella Lingua My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Languageby Hales, Dianne
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“Italians say that someone who acquires a new language ‘possesses’ it. In my case, Italian possesses me. With Italian racing like blood through my veins, I do indeed see with different eyes, hear with different ears, and drink in the world with all my senses”
A celebration of the language and culture of Italy, La Bella Lingua is the story of how a language shaped a nation, told against the backdrop of one woman’s personal quest to speak fluent Italian.
For anyone who has been to Italy, the fantasy of living the Italian life is powerfully seductive. But to truly become Italian, one must learn the language. This is how Dianne Hales began her journey. In La Bella Lingua, she brings the story of her decades long experience with the “the world’s most loved and lovable language” together with explorations of Italy’s history, literature, art, music, movies, lifestyle, and food in a true opera amorosa a labor of her love of Italy.
Throughout her first excursion in Italy with “non parlo Italiano” as her only Italian phrase Dianne delighted in the beauty of what she saw but craved comprehension of what she heard. And so she chose to inhabit the language. Over more than twenty-five years she has studied Italian in every way possible: through Berlitz, books, CDs, podcasts, private tutorials and conversation groups, and, most importantly, large blocks of time in Italy. In the process she found that Italian became not just a passion and a pleasure, but a passport into Italy’s storia and its very soul. She offers charming insights into what makes Italian the most emotionally expressive of languages, from how the “pronto” (“Ready!”) Italians say when they answer the telephone conveys a sense of something coming alive, to how even ordinary things such as a towel (asciugamano) or handkerchief (fazzoletto) sound better in Italian.
She invites readers to join her as she traces the evolution of Italian in the zesty graffiti on the walls of Pompeii, in Dante’s incandescent cantos, and in Boccaccio’s bawdy Decameron. She portrays how social graces remain woven into the fabric of Italian: even the chipper “ciao,” which does double duty as “hi” and “bye,” reflects centuries of bella figura. And she exalts the glories of Italy’s food and its rich and often uproarious gastronomic language: Italians deftly describe someone uptight as a baccala (dried cod), a busybody who noses into everything as a prezzemolo (parsley), a worthless or banal movie as a polpettone (large meatball).
Like Dianne, readers of La Bella Lingua will find themselves innamorata, enchanted, by Italian, fascinated by its saga, tantalized by its adventures, addicted to its sound, and ever eager to spend more time in its company.
“An impassioned student, Dianne Hales takes us along on her delightful pilgrimage to the speaking heart of Italy. The rhythmic beat she comes to feel and love teaches her how to live, in beautiful and idiomatic Italian, ‘a language as rich in flavors and varieties as Italian cooking.’ The reading pilgrim’s reward is this delicious feast of a book, a strong mix of cultural and spoken treasure.” -Susan Cahill, author of Desiring Italy and The Smiles of Rome
“A praiseworthy feature of La Bella Lingua is the way Hales peppers her narrative with hundreds of Italian words, idioms, and figures of speech all chosen with gusto and brio and clearly translated into English to introduce readers to the sonic and semantic seraglio that is the Italian language. A separate chapter on ‘Irreverent Italian’ highlights la parolaccia, the earthy lexicon of invective and jocular sensuality that contemporary Italians imbibe with their mother’s milk but foreign students of Italian rarely gets to savor.” -Peter D’Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish, authors of Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World
Table of Contents
|Introduction: My Italian Brain and How It Grew||p. 1|
|Confessions of an Innamorata||p. 13|
|The Unlikely Rise of a Vulgar Tongue||p. 35|
|To Hell and Back with Dante Alighieri||p. 59|
|Italian's Literary Lions||p. 79|
|The Baking of a Masterpiece||p. 102|
|How Italian Civilized the West||p. 122|
|La Storia dell'Arte||p. 142|
|On Golden Wings||p. 164|
|Eating Italian||p. 190|
|So Many Ways to Say "I Love You"||p. 211|
|Marcello and Me||p. 235|
|Irreverent Italian||p. 256|
|Mother Tongue||p. 274|
|Reader's Guide||p. 312|
|Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.|
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