Tag Archives: language

Forgeddaboudit!!

What if The NYT decided to do a similar piece on Pueto Ricans, Africans, the Chinese, etc – pick your group. What would be the reaction? Italians and Italian-Americans have had to put up with this kind of ethnic stereotyping for years! My dad – an Italian – first generation in American – seldom “signaled.” Neither did his TEN sisters and brothers! The writer of this piece (a non-Italian??) perhaps fell in love with and married an Italian while on assignment in Italy and decided that this was all so endearing or cute or something??? Yeesh … .

AND: My father had the whitest skin! And hazel eyes! And reddish hair when he was young! And sun burned as soon as sunbeams hit his flesh. So much for the swarthy, Italian stereotype!!! (He did speak Italian fluently and LOVED chatting with his sis – my aunt – in a language my mom, two sisters and I could not understand. Lovely guy.)  – R. Tirella

ROME JOURNAL

When Italians Chat, Hands and Fingers Do the Talking

Video | The Italian Gesture Can Italians talk without using their hands? Gestures that insult, beg and swear offer a window into Roman culture.
By RACHEL DONADIO
ROME — In the great open-air theater that is Rome, the characters talk with their hands as much as their mouths. While talking animatedly on their cellphones or smoking cigarettes or even while downshifting their tiny cars through rush-hour traffic, they gesticulate with enviably elegant coordination.

From the classic fingers pinched against the thumb that can mean “Whaddya want from me?” or “I wasn’t born yesterday” to a hand circled slowly, indicating “Whatever” or “That’ll be the day,” there is an eloquence to the Italian hand gesture. In a culture that prizes oratory, nothing deflates airy rhetoric more swiftly.

Some gestures are simple: the side of the hand against the belly means hungry; the index finger twisted into the cheek means something tastes good; and tapping one’s wrist is a universal sign for “hurry up.” But others are far more complex. They add an inflection — of fatalism, resignation, world-weariness — that is as much a part of the Italian experience as breathing.

Two open hands can ask a real question, “What’s happening?” But hands placed in prayer become a sort of supplication, a rhetorical question: “What do you expect me to do about it?” Ask when a Roman bus might arrive, and the universal answer is shrugged shoulders, an “ehh” that sounds like an engine turning over and two raised hands that say, “Only when Providence allows.” …

To read entire story, click here!

 

If chimpanzees could talk, what would they say?

By Kathy Guillermo

According to a recent study published in the journal Nature, scientists have discovered that a gene called FOXP2, which is believed to be responsible for the evolution of speech in humans, behaves differently in humans than it does in chimpanzees, our closest living relatives. The gene produces a protein in humans that differs by just two amino acids from chimpanzees’ FOXP2 protein. Think about it—if not for those two amino acids, chimpanzees might be able to talk. If they could speak, what would they say?

Actually, we already know what they would say, thanks to the work of people such as Roger Fouts, a professor at Central Washington University who is famous for teaching chimpanzees American Sign Language (ASL). Fouts’ most famous pupil is Washoe, who was the first nonhuman animal to learn ASL and who, in turn, taught it to her adopted son, Loulis. Washoe spontaneously combined words to describe her experiences and desires, using expressions such as “you me hide” and “listen dog.” She also invented names for her possessions, referring to her doll, for instance, as “Baby Mine.” She was even known to fib and tell jokes. Continue reading If chimpanzees could talk, what would they say?