Friday, June 11, 2010

Words I'm Looking Up (One in an occasional, cleverly named series on words I'm looking up)


Learning a foreign language is always trying. But learning from speakers of a foreign language that you're deficient in your own language is truly frustrating.

I recently began listening to Italian language lessons in my car. (It's part of my "stop saying we're going to Italy someday and just go, dammit" campaign, which has been dragging on for quite some time and will likely continue through at least the summer of 2011.) In one audio lesson, the sample dialogue had two Italian speakers listing toppings they wanted on their pizza: " ... funghi, capperi, rucola ..."

Then they translated into English. I already knew that funghi would be mushrooms. I wasn't surprised to hear that capperi meant capers. I was anticipating the last word to be arugula, but it wasn't. I couldn't make out what they were saying. It sounded like "ararahkt." So I looked it up online and saw that rucola in English means -- rocket.


Turns out it's a synonym for arugula.

So to learn an Italian word I had to learn an English word. That's a long way to go just to order a pizza.

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LL Blackwell said...

Yes! It's the "English" (Anglish?) word for arugula! I have an Italian cookbook that was originally published in England and not changed hardly at all (except for measurement conversions) when it was published in the US and it's got lots of recipes for "rocket" in it. Problem is, leafy greens all kind of look alike to me, so it took a while for me to confirm that rocket was indeed arugula. I guess it's the English going with the French word (roquette) while we go with the Italian. Kinda like zucchini and corgette as well as eggplant and aubergine (which is a much more beautiful word. Why did we have to call it eggplant?). That was a little easier to figure out, though since both veggies (fruits) are pretty unique looking.

June Casagrande said...

Aw, man. I didn't know "aubergine," and I took two and a half years of French.

Man, when will I ever stop learning stuff I felt I shoulda learned years before?

Mallory said...

ick, who the heck puts arugula on a pizza? or capers even? are those common toppings in Italy? blech

June Casagrande said...

I bet them eye-talians could make it good. I actually saw a picture of arugula on a pizza and it was chopped and looked a little like basil.

I would just be more cautious if it were a calzone because then you'd have rocket in your pocket.

(I'm very sorry for being unable to refrain from making that comment. Very, very sorry.)

Mallory said...

LOL that's a good one!

June Casagrande said...

Thank you. That's very merciful of you.

Adrian Morgan said...

Well, y'know, if you want to brush up on your non-American English vocabulary, a holiday in Australia would do you no harm at all. ;-)

June Casagrande said...

I do hear it's real dang purty down thar.


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