Colin was spot on in his comment to my last post when he wrote that learning a language from a desk calendar was novel. What I didn’t mention in my post was that the desk calendar not only gives a new Italian word every day (with a guide to pronouncing it), but it then uses the word in a short sentence in Italian, with English translation.
I soon found that I needed an English Italian dictionary to look up the words used in the example sentences. The English translations were not always all that helpful. The quickest solution was to check out the apps on the iPhone to find a good dictionary, and my first choice was the MSDict Italian Dictionary. From what I could see of it on iTunes it looked the most promising, so I bought it. I had no idea that I had bought the prestigious Oxford Paravia English Italian dictionary 2nd edition which is some 2,800 pages in print. It’s a large book costing up to $150.
However, I found that the Oxford Paravia didn’t have a lot of the Italian words used in the sentences on the desk calendar. And it didn’t have “dorma” from the aria “Nessun Dorma”. So I decided to buy the Collins English Italian dictionary (the big one) for the iPhone. This also didn’t seem to have any of the words missing from the Oxford Paravia, but it rather oddly always came up with a positive result to searches for these words, but with a different word.
Eventually, I learned that most dictionaries only list the infinitive form of verbs as headwords, and not any of the conjugated forms. The words that I couldn’t find in the Oxford Paravia were verbs, but they were not in the infinitive form – so the Oxford search couldn’t help me find “dorma.”
What I didn’t understand when I bought the Collins is that it has a feature which lists all the conjugated tenses and forms of verbs, indexed, so when I search for “dorma” it brings up the verb headword. Dormire.
Once I figured this out, it was a major breakthrough, and the big Collins on the iPhone remains a very useful dictionary to find the infinitive form of a verb when I only have a conjugated form to work with.
The verb conjugation issue led me to buying “501 Italian verbs” so that I’d be able to easily check out all the forms of the main verbs, together with examples of them in use.
That’s enough for now. There’s more to come