Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lezioni di Italiano . . .

. . . are kicking my butt.

I'm not being parochial here, being a lifelong English speaker, but why should ALL nouns have a gender?

Bambino (baby boy) and Bambina (baby girl) make perfect sense. So do amico (male friend) and amica (female friend). Even better, because Italians can say in one word where it takes us two.

Mela (apple) is OK because there was Eve, the garden, and all that.

Macchina (automobile) and barca (boat) make a little sense. We sometimes refer to our cars as "the old girl," and all ships are called "she."

But, please explain why penna should be feminine. It's a thing, not a she. Worse yet, you pluralize it by replacing the a with an e, and have penne for more than one pen. But make sure you pronounce the nn double consonant. Pen-nah, if you please. Yesterday, I asked my professoressa di italiano for a pen. Hai una penna? Had I said, hai un pene, she would have denied, with righteous indignation, possessing that particular piece of equipment.

Another double consonant trap is set by anno (year). Mio bambino ha un anno (my baby boy is one year old) is perfect. Mio bambino ha un ano is anatomically correct, but should not be said in polite company.

Non ho nessuno comprensione.