Improving my English by learning Italian

Not having learned Latin at school has long been a regret of mine, as the sort of person who likes words and etymology.

I’ve written before about how it would have helped me learning the names of animals in Italian, as so many of them are close to their Latin names (see the addendum here). But I’m finding learning Italian is also now teaching me new words in English – words with shared Latin roots. Words that aren’t necessarily common in English, but are still interesting. Hey, it’s one of life’s main joys to keep learning new stuff.

So for example, I wanted to learn the Italian for “to dither”, as I’m a past master at dithering. Maybe. Sometimes.

To dither = esitare or tergiversare

I dug a little deeper with tergiversare, and it can also be translated as “to prevaricate” (ok) and “to tergiversate”. That latter one was new to me. It’s from the Latin “to turn back”.

Here are a few others I’m learning while trying to read this beer guide (gotta collect ’em all!):
organolettico – “organoleptic”, that is “perceived by a sense organ” or “capable of detecting a sensory stimulus”. (Okay, this one is from the Greek.)
appannaggio – “appanage”/”apanage”, that is an endowment, a prerogative, a rightful revenue or a necessary accompaniment. (I like this one. At the heart of the word is “pan”, as in bread – pane, pain, panis. In the sense of “to give bread”, or “to nourish”.)

Inevitably, my WordPress spellcheck doesn’t like a lot of these English words. I shouldn’t really be ashamed of my ignorance if it’s so ignorant too.

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1 Comment

Filed under Learning Italian, Main thread

One response to “Improving my English by learning Italian

  1. PMDE

    Latin at St Mary’s with Olding wouldn’t have helped much; I ended up drawing a load of orchids and labelling with their (Latin-based, Greek-influenced) scientific names. Didn’t want a fail on my GCE certificate, so made sure I got a ‘U’.

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