#loveourcollections Italian

Italian library section

The Language Centre has a wide collection of Italian novels, graphic novels, reference books, self-teaching textbooks and films.

In the novels’ section, we have Elena Ferrante’s L’amica geniale: infanzia, adolescenza (My brilliant friend), the first story of a four books series. The writer surprises the reader with the private story of a friendship between two girls from Naples, Lila and Elena. The writer’s identity is a mystery as she signs her novels with a pseudonym, leading many scholars to propose their own theories on the author’s true identity based on the clues she leaves behind in her stories; will you be able to hazard a guess yourself?

If you are passionate about theatre and your Italian is of an advantaged level, you may want to challenge yourself with the detailed overview of 20th century Italian theatre presented in Il teatro del Novecento da Pirandello a Fo by Franca Angelini. Follow the stream of her interpretation and learn more about the political and social engagement of Italian theatre.

If you have never read a comic before, then Corto Maltese will definitely get you into comics. Written by Hugo Pratt, it is the most famous Italian graphic novel and a brilliant example of the genre.  Here is the link to Appuntamento a Bahia. In this episode Corto Maltese, Steiner and Tristan Bantam are sailing by the coast of French Guyana heading to San Salvador de Bahia. Once there, Morgana, Tristan’s stepsister, will help him to solve a mystery about their father, but along the way, they will be met with a series of exciting situations and obstacles.

Would you like to improve your Italian out of the classroom? Then give Perfect your Italian a try. Each topic comes with a range of activities to enable you to start a conversation, perfect what you already know and put your speaking skills to the test, whilst articles and interviews will be very useful for improving your reading ability. Don’t panic! All activities vary in length so you can set your own working pace.

Culture is generally shaped by a country’s arts and that is particularly true of Italy and films. Italian through film: The classics is a guide to the milestones of Italian film history. You will enrich your vocabulary with the essential terminology required to talk about films and you will also be able to give a satisfactory synopsis of the story thanks to the activities at the end of each chapter. You will analyse the characters’ personalities and both the social and historical context they are part of. Will you be hiding from the Nazis in 1944 Rome or will you be chasing a bike thief in post-war Rome?

Don’t forget that we have a wide collection of film classics, so if you read about them, you will also be able to watch them. Here are some examples of essential Italian cinema: Ladri di biciclette by Vittorio de Sica, Rocco e I suoi fratelli by Luchino Visconti, Uccellacci e Uccellini by Pier Paolo Pasolini or La strada by Federico Fellini.

Last but not least, the library staff are friendly and keen to answer any queries. 🙂

Marta Triberio, ERASMUS




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Intensive weekend courses

The Language Centre is having, as usual, its wonderful intensive weekend courses in French, German, Italian and Spanish.

I personally went to Italian beginner and German intermediate a few years ago and it was a fantastic experience! A great way to discover a new language or go back to a forgotten one. So go on, if I can do it, surely you can too! 🙂


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#loveourcollections Sign Languages

There are many sign languages. It all started in France (excuse me while I polish my nails an instant…) with Charles Michel de l’Epée who opened the first free specialist school.

But actually it’s not true! Wikipedia states that the first mention of sign languages is in Plato’s Κρατύλος (Cratylus, here it is in English on Wikisource) when Socrates makes a a mention of it.

Recently, another old sign language was found: the Anglo-Saxon sign language, this was a religious one used by monks when they were forbidden to speak out loud.

Another notable sign language was the village produced sign language of Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language, used by all members of the community. It is no longer spoken but it had an influence on the American Sign Language.


Unspoken a CC picture by Marina del Castell on Flickr: the word “friend” in English, Spanish, French and Catalan sign languages.

In the library, we have a few books and videos for several sign languages. Unfortunately, when I catalogue material, there is, so far, only one language code for all sign languages (which is sgn for those interested). So you have to be inventive in your use of SOLO, the university library catalogue. Perhaps the best is to enter “sign language” and restrict your search to the Language Centre Library. I wish I could say that all the films we have are entirely in the sign language, it is not so unfortunately!

First of all of course you will find the BSL, British Sign Language with a teach yourself BSL (book and video) and a few films, such as Dear Frankie or It’s all gone Pete Tong.

American Children of a lesser God which became a commercial success and started Marlee Matlin acting career

French La famille Bélier which was also a huge commercial success. In the Bélier family, Paula is an indispensable interpreter for her deaf parents and brother on a daily basis. One day, her music teacher discovers her gift for singing…

German Jenseits der Stille (Beyond silence) and the very touching Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit (Land of silence and darkness) which is a Werner Herzog documentary on Fini Straubinger, by partly in German tactile sign language.

Hindi Iqbal the story of a deaf and mute boy, who dreams of playing cricket for India and Koshish which depicts a deaf and mute couple and their conflicts, pain and struggle to carve out a niche for themselves in a desensitized society.

Korean  복수는 나의 것 (Boksaneun naui geot: sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) Ryu, a deaf mute, is trying to earn enough money for his sister’s kidney transplant.

Russian Страна глухих (Strana glukhikh: country of the deaf) It is about an unusual relationship between two women, one of them a deaf-mute dancer and the other on the run from the mafia.

Spanish Tacones lejanos a melodrama by Almodovar where we have the brief story of Isabel, a sign language interpreter for the television.

Ukrainian  The Tribe a rather tough film about a young and shy boy, Sergey, who arrives at a boarding school for the deaf. There he tries to find his place in the hierarchy of the school community, which operates like a Mafiosi group ruled by the King. The gang partakes in acts of violence, robbery, sex and prostitution. Please note that this film does not have any subtitles. It was the wish of the director to be so.

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then and now (part deux)

Before you were looking for a book the library collection like this:

before 001

Now you are looking for a book, a CD, a DVD in the library collection like this:

library catalogue 2

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then and now

Before, if you wanted to register for a course at the Language Centre, you had to do this:

queuing at the Language Centre - Copy

Now, you only have to do that on our main website

UntitledSimplier, non?

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#loveourcollections Poetry

As part of a new post series #loveourcollections will look at the different collections of the Language Centre Library. Today I would like to speak about poetry.

It is said poetry is the highest form of the language, still, I strongly believe that poetry can be read, and appreciated (at least partially) when you are learning a language.

For this, bilingual collections will help a lot. Of course you will not understand all the subtilities of the language, nor all the words!, but you could, for example, try to read it with your language partner, or if you don’t have one, search the web for some video or audio. Let’s have a quick look at what we have here.

Of course, for Arabic, we have Mahmoud Darwish in an bilingual anthology called Victims of a Map (and for those very keen, I also have, in my personal library, a selection of his poems with translations in French, currently on loan with our Arabic Tutor), we also have a donation: the intriguing Book of Sins

For French, we have selections of works by Jean de La Fontaine, Pierre Jaccottet, Arthur Rimbeau, Pierre de Ronsard, Francis Ponge, Yves Bonnefoy, François Villon, Guillaume Appolinaire, Alfred de Musset, Victor Hugo, Joachim du Bellay and many many more in anthologies from Medieval to contemporary French.

For German, we have a nice bilingual selection of poems by Paul Ceylan

that will include the very famous “das Karussell”

Also an anthologie Lieblingsgedichte der Deutschen

Greek, and we have the rather hilarious and still relevant today of “Waiting for the Barbarians” by the great poet Constantine P. Cavafy

(it’s worth noting that there is a wonderful Cavafy website with his poems both in Greek and in English)

Italian I believe I could get more, but we have Vilma de Gasperin’s lezioni di lingua

Portuguese, and we had to have the very misterious and diverse all poets in one, that is Alberto Caiero + Alvaro de Campos + (Ricardo Reis + Antonío Mora + Bernardo Soares) = Fernando Pessoa

Russian, ah don’t get me started with Russian (do this test: meet a Russian, make them have a few toasts, say “Pushkin please!” see what happens…normally you should hear at least 3 poems from the famous poet ! and if they get very drunk perhaps… “Я вас любил”…)

so in one world, yes, we have a few poetry books of Russian poetry, including Contemporary Russian Poetry: a bilingual anthology

and others, only in Russian, Alexander Blok

and Marina Tsvetaeva

(and if you are nice I could lend you my Garnett book of Russian Verse, but only for a few days, minutes, seconds – as it is MINE!)

And the collection is not only for languages taught at the centre, we also have Taras Shevchenko considered to be the most famous Ukrainian poet, that I brought back from my travels

Spanish an anthology Al son de los poetas with poems from Lorca, Neruda and, speaking of Lorca, a CD (another present from my travels) of the Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías composed by Maurice Ohana. And a collection by Francisco de Quevedo

I’m adding here the work of Yunyao Zhai about Chinese and Tibetan poetry

Poetry: Chinese and Tibetan

Chinese: If asking Chinese people: ‘who is the most famous Chinese poet of all time’, the answer you get is very likely to be ‘Li Bai’.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Bai

Although Li Bai lived more than a thousand years ago, his talents and optimism have inspired the Chinese intellectuals over generations. Even today, his poems are still hugely popular; every Chinese child nowadays begins their school life by memorising and reciting Li Bai’s poems.

Tibetan: the legendary Sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso is probably one of the best known Dalai Lamas in history https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6th_Dalai_Lama . He is sometimes referred as a ‘playboy’, or a legendary composer of poems and love songs rather than the religious and political leader of Tibet.

Many of his verses are now translated into English and Chinese http://www.yogichen.org/cw/cw41/bk131.html   https://www.atanet.org/publications/beacons_10_pages/page_60.pdf ).

His poems are also an important inspiration for contemporary Tibetan artists, as you could listen to this beautiful song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qNLyNcE7gc , the lyric comes from his poems.



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A great donation!

in fact, the best library donation I have ever had in my life!

In memory of Nigel Richards.

Many beautiful volumes from the famous Pléiade collection, with French authors like Marcel Proust, madame de Lafayette, Rabelais, Molière, madame de Sévigné. Each volume contains footnotes written by renowned academics.

I am in the process of cataloguing the collection and put it in the highest standard of RDA if I can! (RDA is the new cataloguing process we use)


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