- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books; unknown edition (April 20, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767927702
- ISBN-13: 978-0767927703
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 171 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language Paperback – April 20, 2010
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“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 get to savor.” —Peter D’Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish, authors of Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World
“Dianne Hales is just about pitch perfect as she weaves the engaging story of her innamoramento with Italian, hitting the high notes of Italian culture...
a lovely, touching tribute to the many fine civilizing gifts that Italy has shared with the world. Any smart traveler to Italy would want to read La Bella Lingua.
It’s not only readable and engaging but informative about things not easily found in guidebooks and common tourist materials.” —Julia Conaway Bondanella & Peter Bondanella, authors and editors of The Italian Renaissance Reader, Italian Cinema, and the Cassell Dictionary of Italian Literature
“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
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Dianne Hales is a widely published journalist and health writer. She lives with her family in Marin County, California. You can find out more about Dianne at her Web site (www.becomingitalian.com or labellalingua.org) and on Facebook.
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The style is admirable, and captures one’s devotion and dedication not only for the language but it expands one’s interest way beyond. It creates interest in Italian literature which may only have existed in a casual form. It covers many areas of the culture in an irresistible way. In places, I even found the style poetic as it covers all aspects of the Italian language and culture. Obviously, the author’s erudition is enviable, which makes the book highly informative and creates further interest in reading also through the extensive bibliography at the end of the book.
English words do not appear to be sufficient to describe the magnetism for the culture this book projects, which is so eloquently rendered. Even the end of the book describing some of the vulgarity, which is present in all languages, can make me, as an old man, blush. But at the same time, all the aspects of the ‘La Bella Lingua’ prompts you even more to absorb this culture.
Although I knew Italian was a collection of dialects crystalized into a national language not all that long ago in spite of the antiquity of the land and people, I didn't realize how that came about, nor the critical steps, texts and people responsible. This book describes it all from the impact of Dante's Inferno to opera. There's a delightful passage about the wonderful librettist, Da Ponte, pairing with Mozart for the three great operas, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte and how Da Ponte not only brought vivid style and language to the operas, but to Columbia University where he became the first professor of the Italian language in America. He was introduced to the college by Clement Moore. Who knew! Tidbits like that enchanted me.
Stories of the impact of Marcello Mastroianni were fascinating as well as how Petrarch's sonnets influenced the more structured written Italian as opposed to spoken Italian. I enjoyed learning that Italian is so versitile not through a vast number of basic words, but the vast ability to alter words to mean so many different things through prefixes and suffixes, modifiers, etc. And conversely how it has multiple words for things like face, that convey very different concepts.
As a lover of the Italian experience, much of this information delighted me, but some of the history was just that and felt rather tedious. As I ground through the lengthy discussion of the Inferno, I got to wondering if I could go on, and the extensive discussion of vulgarity was really more than I needed to know, but in the end I was very glad to have read this book. I recommend it to lovers of all things Italian who want to understand the people and culture better through development and use of its language.