Posts Tagged ‘ books

2 great book finds: Kató Lomb’s “Polyglot: How I Learn Languages” and Susanna Tamaro’s “Va’ dove ti porta il cuore” #Italiano

Murray James Morrison has once again turned me on to some hip shit.  Kató Lomb was a Hungarian interpreter and polyglot who devoted her life– after starting at a late age– to learning and working with numerous languages.  Her book Polyglot: How I Learn Languages (available in full in English and Russian) is whimsically, beautifully written AND packed with fascinating strategies and reflections on language learning.  I would have liked to pick this woman’s brain in any language.

Cover of Kató Lomb's "Polyglot: How I Learn Languages"

Perusing through Strand Bookstore’s sale/used shelves, I also happened upon a digestible-looking Italian novel for only $1: Susanna Tamaro’s Va’ dove ti porta il cuore (Follow Your Heart, in its English publication).  I’ve been wonderfully surprised and sucked into the pages of this book, with some beautiful writing that is simple enough for me to understand with an elementary and somewhat neglected knowledge of Italian.

(Vocab links embedded for language students)

“L’infanzia e la vecchiaia si assomigliano.  In entrambi  casi, per motivi diversi, si è piuttosto inermi, non si è ancora – o non si è più – partecipi della vita attiva e questo permette di vivere con una sensibilità senza schemi, aperta. È durante l’adolescenza che comincia a formarsi intorno al nostro corpo un’invisibile corazza. Si forma durante l’adolescenza e continua a ispessirsi per tutta l’età adulta.  Il processo della sua crescita somiglia un po’ a quello delle perle, più grande e profonda è la ferita, più è forte la corazza che si sviluppa intorno.  Poi però con il passare del tempo, come un vestito portato troppo a lungo, nei punti di maggiore uso inizia a logorarsi, fa vedere la trama, ad un tratto per un movimento brusco si strappa.  In principio non ti accorgi di niente, sei convinta che la corazza ti avvolga ancora interamente finché un giorno, all’improvviso, davanti a una cosa stupida senza sapere perché ti ritrovi a piangere come un bambino.”

One will excuse my rough translation.  Corrections and improvements are always welcome:

“Infancy and old age resemble each other.  In both cases, for different reasons, one is quite defenseless, one is not yet – or no longer – a participant in active life and this permits us to live with a borderless sensibility, open.  It is during adolescence that inside our body begins to form an invisible armor.  It forms during adolescence and continues to thicken throughout adulthood.  The process of its growth resembles a bit that of pearls, the larger and deeper one is that which is wounded, stronger is the shell that develops inside.  Then, however, with the passing of time, like an outfit worn for too long, at the spots of greatest use it begins to wear out, the seams show, in one stroke with a sudden movement it tears.  In the beginning you don’t notice anything, you are convinced that the shell still envelopes you entirely until one day, unexpectedly, in front of something stupid and without knowing why, you discover yourself crying like a baby.”