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Know your pasta: easier said than done!

Italians are so obsessed with their pasta that they actually created a chart to classify every type according to its structure, it’s lenght or its texture: it’s basically a pasta periodic table! That said, it is not surprising that many Italian language students have an hard time to recognize and name even the most common varieties of pasta, due to the fact that Italian words for pasta, although often containing open references to its appearence, usually originate from a dialect word. Moreover, some kinds of pasta have a different name for almost every region, to the point that you might be misunderstood if you ask for stortoni in Rome or maccheroni in Milan.

You might think that internet can help, but this is not always the case. Just take a look at this infographic, available in any major stock photo website.

Mistakes and misspellings in this artwork are so numerous and so hilarious that one could actually think they were made on purpose.

Let’s analyze them in details and try to learn some Italian from them:

Nidi di rondie: besides the fact that nidi di rondine are actually a particular way to cook tagliatelle, the author of this infographic just forgot an n.
Lasagnia: hey! In Italian language, the palatal sound (/ɲ/) is never followed by a diacritic . Thank you. 🙂
Funghetto:
pasta names are always plural. And that should be pretty obvious, since in every box you can find many pieces of the same variety of pasta. Just to try to search on Google “funghetto pasta” and “funghetti pasta“: can you spot the difference?
Gobetti rigatti:
the author of this image had so many problems with double consonants! Which is normal and understandable, considering that double consonants in Italian language have an importance which has no equivalent in any other European language. That said, the correct form is gobbetti (from gobba, hunchback) rigati (striped).
Konkilioni:
in the Italian orthography, the stop velar sound /k/ is represented by the letter c, possibly paired with an h when followed by a palatal vowel (e or i). Moreover, this word poses another difficulty for foreign students, since the lateral sound /ʎ/ (similar to the one you find in Spanish caballo) is very specific to Italian language and  is always written using the diacritic sequence (as in aglio, figlio, moglie, gli). Therefore, the correct form is conchiglioni.
Kanellone:
again, /k/ sound, double consonants and plural instead of singular. Correct form is cannelloni.
Cornetti rigatti: cornetti
(from corni, horns) rigati.
Elighe:
almost correct, except for the confusion between voiced and unvoiced stop velars, /k/ and /g/. In this case, the sound is unvoiced: eliche (literally fans).

Now, we really want to set the record straight. That is why we prepared a new infographic with our favourite types of pasta in the hope this will help you through the labyrinth of the pasta periodic chart!

Study Italian in Rome

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You might think I am going to provide you with the usual list of funny nicknames that Romans use to give to their family and friends. And yet, if you follow us and got to know well enough Rome and Romans, you should have learned that the creativity of this amazing people goes far beyond usual boundaries. As a matter of fact, in Rome even monuments and neighbourhoods have their nicknames.

Er cuppolone. Ok, this one was easy, being one of the symbols of Rome, along with the Colosseo (another nickname, by the way, since its real name is Anfiteatro Flavio). And if you think about it, calling this enormous, white church “the big cupole” is far more expressive than referring to it with the name of a (yet most prestigious) saint.

‘A machina da scrive – ‘a torta nuzziale – ‘a dentiera – er calamaio. It is impressive how many nicknames this controversial monument has been able to inspir during the last 100 years: in order, “the typewriter”, “the wedding cake”, “the denture”, “the inkwell”. Originally buit to commemorate the fallen soldiers of IWW, theVittoriano gained consideration among Romans for its distinctive shape, which in the opinion of many stands completely unrelated to the urbanistic landscape of Piazza Venezia.

Er Colosseo quadrato. colosseo_quadrato

Being the symbol of EUR, the vast neighbourhood that Mussolini had built for the Universal Exposition of 1941, thePalazzo della Civiltà Italiana is indeed a rationalist reinterpretation of the famous amphitheater. With the usual perspicacity, Romans have been able to syntethize the main carachteristic of this architectural structure in just two words (“the squared Colosseum”). Chapeau.

Er Palazzaccio. On the right hand side of Castel S. Angelo stands this huge white building, once the central Courthouse and now home of the Supreme Court. Its nickname, formed by the addition of the pejorative suffix -accio to the nounpalazzo (“palace”), is due to its humongous size and to the fact that the entire palace seems built using rough stones.

L’Orinatoio. Parental advisory: here’s an example of how Roman people can become amusingly blasphemous. Whoever had the chance to take a train from Termini Station, surely noticed this bizarre statue of John Paul II, which have been inspiring jokes and laughs since its inauguration, in 2011. To understand why Romans use to call it “the urinal”, a quick look at this awful example of modern sculpture is more than enough…oliviero-rainaldi-beato-giovanni-paolo-ii-8

 

As you might imagine, this list if far from being exhaustive. There are many more statues (er Pasquino, er Babbuino, l’Abbate Luiggi, er Marforio), buildings (er Dado, ‘a Scala Santa,er Fontanone) and even neighbourhoods (‘a Subburra) that could have been part of it. Is there anything like this in your city? Reply in the comments! 😉

by Enrico Piciarelli teacher@ Italian teacher at Kappa Language school

Read more:

English pronunciation by Italian speakers

Any given Christmas in Italy

Croce e delizia, Rome and its public transportation

Zuppa Romana & Luca Toni

Cooking Italian, thou shalt not put pineapple on your pizza

Italian Pronunciation

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In the past few weeks this video showing an adorable Italian grandpa (actually a cook or something close to) trying to pronounce “Worcestershire Sauce” has become viral and has charmed UK, reminding them why (almost) everybody loves Italians.

Now, the common stereotype about Italians trying to speak English is based on the irrepressible need we have to put a vowel at the end of each word that comes out of our (often moustached) mouths.

 

That is true indeed, if you consider that even during the fascist era the regime tried to italianize words such as “sport” (turned into diporto), “standard” (Standa is in fact the name of a famous chain of shopping malls) and even “Louis Armstrong” (akwardly translated as Luigi Fortebraccio). But this reluctance towards anglicisms is definitely not only a matter of twisted ideology and cannot be considerad simply as some sad remain of a shameful past or a good subject for comedy: recent studies show that this “allergy” seems to be almost innate, probably due to the sheer phonetic structure of Italian words. Long story short: Italians have the lowest proficiency in English language amongst all Europeans and are ranked 27th in the whole world. And that can lead to huge problems, especially when you try to flee from economic crisis and to make your way abroad.

by Enrico, Italian teacher at Kappa Language school

Read more:

Any given Christmas in Italy

Croce e delizia, Rome and its public transportation

Zuppa Romana & Luca Toni

Cooking Italian, thou shalt not put pineapple on your pizza

Italian Pronunciation

Learn Italian in Italy

 

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