“Last day of school, last day of sorrow”
we used to sing when we were kids, excited about the start of the holidays!
We continued, with gusto:
“One more day of this old dump
And we’ll be home tomorrow!”
It never occurred to me to ask why my parents didn’t share my joy.
But now, of course, father of three adult kids and currently minder of Roomie, the closure of kindergartens and other educational establishments, even just for two weeks, is clearly a catastrophe visited on parents by a cruel, cruel world.
Monday, for instance, instead of tapping away on a laptop all morning, I have an ENTIRE DAY of childcare.
Fortunately these days there’s non-stop kiddie TV, for instance on Youtube, bless their little cotton socks.
Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to mention Masha e Orso, our current favorite childcare solution, and SO GOOD I CAN’T GET ANYTHING DONE WHEN IT’S ON. I have to turn the chair away from the TV, but even then it’s irresistable.
This link is to the Italian version, but Masha and the Bear are Russians, Маша и Медведь.
Watch and you’ll easily spot the cultural references – the bear drinks tea from a samovar and plays chess, little Masha wears a headscarf, toy airplanes have red stars on them, and so on.
Sometimes texts in the animation have been changed to English (a train carriage with Moscow-Alaska on the side), sometimes they get missed and are still in cyrillic. Which is fun to look out for.
Masha has the habit of demanding attention from Orso by repeating the same word over and over again, until poor Orso gives in.
Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo! Lupo!
We know someone like that, don’t we? And now we have two full weeks of it to look forward to…
Oh, nearly forgot – and for anyone who’s not curious about the best kiddie animated series I’ve seen in decades of being someone’s papà (you’re missing out, really you are) – today I published the latest episode in our Summer Series on The Renaissance!
Episode 12 has more popes, and explains why Protestants are called Protestants.
Because they protested, of course!
Duh, I’m sure I used to know that. But protested against what, exactly?
Il Rinascimento, Episodio 12. I papi del 1500
N.b. All twelve episodes published so far are available on our History page.
Tell your friends who are learning Italian.
But tell them about Masha e Orso, too!
La diaspora italiana – Italiani negli Stati Uniti (offer ends Sunday…)
Here’s a final reminder: the launch offer on La diaspora italiana – Italiani negli Stati Uniti (B2/C1) ends on Sunday night!
Buy before then and you get sixteen chapters on important Italian Americans for just £5.99!
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
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- 16 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at intermediate level or above
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
Buy La diaspora italiana – Italiani negli Stati Uniti | Free Sample Chapter (.pdf) | Catalog
La diaspora italiana – Italiani negli Stati Uniti is B2/C1-level, so uppper-intermediate.
If you’re not there yet, why not browse our online Catalog, to find something more suitable for your current level? There’s loads to choose from!
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Penny Jackson says
No I don’t agree. While italians, especially, sadly, those in public-facing, telephone-answering roles, may not actually speak more quickly than those that do so in other languages, they are sadly, lamentably, far less able to empathise with those they are speaking to and will continue in rapid-fire Italian, not listen to those they are speaking to and above all, insist that their interlocutor should speak perfect Italian because “everybody in Italy does and if they don’t that’s their fault”. Often an excuse for just hanging up the ‘phone, inexcusable if you are a telephone responder.
I have form. I speak 3 European languages fluently. I habitually reside in The Netherlands, whose native language is Dutch. Anyone there wanting to work in a public-facing role is *required* to speak another European language besides Dutch. If you get on to a recorded message site, the first choice is inevitably “Press 1 (or 2) for English”. The second language of most operatives is very often English, although German and French are popular choices too.
However now, in Italy, I, in need of urgent healthcare help, am confronted with egregious excesses on the part of almost every Italian operator I speak to. And by the way I do understand and speak some Italian.
I have been trying to make an appointment with the dermatology department of Ospedale Livorno.
Typical are the responses:
1) “This is Italy, and so we speak Italian”
2) “You live in an Italian village and there everyone speaks Italian. Get someone who speaks Italian.” This ignores the fact that I live alone and at 8 o’clock in the morning do not have an Italian speaker at my side, and the window to make the healthcare appointment closes at 8:30.
3) “Rattatatata Italia rattatatata Italia…” no willingness to slow down or listen to me, or afford me the chance to understand or look up an unfamiliar word.
4) The assumption that because everything in Italy closes early in the morning, this must be the same everywhere.
5) And then finally, saying the word “dermatologica” to me exaggeratedly slowly as if this may be a word difficult for me to comprehend, whereas actually with my knowledge of medical termionolgy is one of the easiest. In other words, I am obviously stupid.
I fear that Italy is drifting away into a language desert island all of its own making. In my village I notice that young people of schoolgoing age, who would in other countries be the most eager to practice their language skills, show the same reticence and inability to understand as their octagenerian grandparents.
Yes of course I’m constantly pushing myself to improve. That’s how I learned my first three European languages. But a culture mired in its own self-sufficiency is not going to help me DEAL WITH their language, no matter how prepared I am.
“No I don’t agree.”
With what, Penny? Your rant is very interesting, but I fail to see how it relates to anything I wrote.
Italians and Italy can be maddening, it’s true. But probably not more than any other country…