It happened a couple of days ago as I was sitting alone in a corner beside a window, inside a well-known pub here in Cork City (Republic of Ireland), the Oliver Plunkett Pub, sipping an Irish Stout, as a cute blond-haired Irish girl approached me and said:
– Bello! (an Italian word that describes everything that is good such as “beautiful”, “handsome” or “cute” according to the context in which it is used)
And I was so surprised that this girl spoke to me in Italian that I could do nothing but reply with a simple:
-Grazie! ( that means “thank you”)
She smiled as she caught me off guard with an expression of stupore (amazement) on my face and added that according to her whatever comes from Italy is meraviglioso (wonderful). Well, the situation sounded interesting! Very interesting!
She went on by telling me that she had spent a couple of years working in Italy before coming back to Ireland a month earlier and that she even wept for leaving my Bel Paese (Beautiful Country). According to her, we, gli Italiani (Italians), have a maniacal attention for details and for making things as much beautiful as possible. She mentioned Italian Fashion Designers such as Dolce&Gabbana, Armani, Versace, etc, then she carried on by expressing her satisfaction with her bellissima (intensifier of the word “beautiful”) New Fiat 500, a very cute small-sized car produced by FCA Automobile Company.
What struck her a lot, though, was the sound of the Italian language that I must admit she spoke quite fluently and correctly. She told me that she was completely seduced by the Italian lifestyle and culture and then, she remarked her opinion about the bellezza (beauty) of Italian language that is capable in her opinion to enchant whomever. Well, to be honest, as she pronounced these Italian words a shiver climbed from my stomach up to my breast. Perhaps, the Italian language stava seducendo me in quel momento (was seducing me in that moment) through the delicate voice of that affascinante bellezza Irlandese (charming Irish beauty) whom in the meantime I had invited to take a seat on my table to drink something with me.
Why Italian language is so seductive?
After ordering a couple of beers, I tried to recall in my mind years of Letteratura Italiana (Italian literature) studies that eventually turned out to be of important practical use. After toasting to our conoscenza (acquaintance), I starting rolling out as much information as I could about that historical period of the Italian Literature going from the 13th Century to the Rinascimento (Renaissance) in the 16th Century that saw the birth of our incantevole lingua (enchanting language).
I started with the famous poet Dante Alighieri (1265, Florence, Italy – 1321, Ravenna, Italy) who wrote the classic narrative poem worldwide known: La Divina Commedia (“The Divine Comedy”) which initiated the development of the Italian Language from the Tuscan dialect.
Then, I went on by bringing up Francesco Petrarca (1304, Arezzo, Italy – 1374, Arquà Petrarca, Italy) who was one of the first humanist working on rediscovering the beauty of the Età Classica dell’Antica Roma (Classical Age of the Ancient Rome). He wrote the Rime Sparse (Scattered Rhymes) after giving up his vocation as a priest to celebrate his feelings of passione e amore (passion and love) for a woman he called “Laura” whom he had seen in the church of Sainte-Claire d’Avignon. Later, these poems were gathered in Il Canzoniere (“Song Book”) containing 366 poems. Petrarca wanted the Italian language to be as sophisticated as Latino (Latin) that was the language used by the elites, therefore he used a narrow and aristocratic style that definitely contributed towards forging the Italian language.
Kelly, this was the name of the Irish girl to whom io stavo raccontando la storia della Letteratura Italiana (I was telling the history of the Italian Literature), was completely abducted by these stories and this emboldened me to carry on with that.
Hence, I made an efforts and the other poet that came up to my mind was Giovanni Boccaccio (1313, Certaldo, Italy, 1375, Certaldo, Italy), Petrarca’s friend, whose poem Il Decamerone (The Decameron) was written in Italian vernacular and contributed a lot to shape la mia lingua nativa (my mother-tongue).
– E tu hai letto queste opere? Ti sono piaciute? (Have you read these masterpieces? Have you enjoyed them?)
She asked grinning.
– Well, students usually study them in the Italian secondary level school but poichè non sono scritte in Italiano contemporaneo (since they are not written in contemporary Italian), it is not easy to deeply appreciate them.
The opinion of the linguists and experts about Italian language
All the Romance languages such as, for instance, Spanish, Portuguese, French and, of course, Italian appeal to English speakers because they can recognize tones and sounds resembling those of their mother-tongue. Furthermore, some linguists suggested that Italian, in particular, is so fascinating for English speakers because of its ‘melody’. As a matter of fact, the majority of Italian words end with vowels and just few words show a big concentration of consonants in a row. In a nutshell, this peculiar composition of the Italian language creates an open sound resembling that of a ‘melody’.
According to the observations of Stephen Brockman, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, on his essay In Defense of European Languages.
Italy and the Italian language are perceived as beautiful, fun, and sexy. And why not? I can’t see anything wrong with that
For Dianne Hales, no language may have so much seductive power as Italian has as she explained in her article La Bella Lingua. Typical Italian romantic expressions used to express amore (love) such as Ti amo, mio tesoro (I love you, my darling), tu sei l’amore della mia vita (you are the love of my life), Tu sei la cosa più bella che sia mai capitata nella mia vita (You are the most beautiful thing that has ever happened in my life), do not have any comparable expressions in other languages.
After all, even the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V once said:
I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse
After this quotation, the Irish girl handed me her phone number with a coy smile on her face and left!
Yes, Italian is the language of love indeed.
This article written by myself, Andrea Nardinocchi, was previously published on https://polyglotscorner.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/italian-is-the-language-of-love/