East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Teaching foreign languages through adventure fiction

Languages-512A few days back a friend asked me to give her English lessons through the web – to improve her reading and writing skills first and foremost, and then to help her with her spoken English.
I was happy to comply – she’s a friend, and also, it’s a good way to start a new project and possibly a new source of income and help me pay my bills through the rest of the year.

I’ve taught English to Italians and Italian to English-speaking foreigners for a number of years, about fifteen years ago, and I had developed a few tactics to help my students

  1. Get familiar with the basic phrase structure – to learn, in other words, what goes where in an Italian or English phrase.
  2. Acquire as large a vocabulary as possible
  3. Keep going and practice while having fun

Continue reading


Language and Stories

I’m writing a story.
It’s an alternate history short story for a forthcoming project.
I will not disclose the details, but I can safely say that it’s a story that features Carole Lombard – because I love Carole Lombard, and she’s the right woman in the right place, so to speak, for the story I want to write.

Annex - Lombard, Carole_09

Scanned by Frederic. Reworked by Nick & jane for Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans website: http://www.doctormacro.com. Enjoy!

The story that I am writing, in fact – 1000 words done last night… and that’s what I want to talk about. Continue reading

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Affection does not translate well

Some things do not translate.
The Italian expression “volersi bene” for instance.
Normally it is considered as a milder equivalent of “loving” – if I say that Jack and Jill “si vogliono bene” I’m implying they are in love with each other, but in a somewhat quiet, not very passionate way.

But that’s wrong.
First, because it can be misleading.
A literal meaning is closer to “they wish well to each other”, or even more precisely “they desire each other’s good”.
It’s something soft, maybe even a little cuddly, but sometimes it’s love, sometimes it’s something else.


But it gets trickier than that. Continue reading