...The way those pure liquid vowels just melted together — più in alto, negli occhi tuoi blu, ma io continuo a sognare — the doubled consonants, the repeated words, the palatalized "gl"s and "gn"s, the soft "c"s in voce and dolce — all that just did something indescribable to me. This was magic if anything could be magic. It was obvious that sooner or later I would have to learn Italian. And one day I was sitting at a table in Tresidder, Stanford's student union, when a professor of Italian and a student sat down near me and started talking together. I couldn't keep my ears off them! Surely one was in heaven if one could glid through the skies of this language as they were doing. And so, as soon as the next quarter rolled around, I signed up.
Strange because a month or two ago I too was just sitting at a table next to some other table where an Italian teacher was chatting with someone (as it turned out, a student of hers) and I went so far as to get the teacher's email address (she made a living giving one-on-one lessons) but in the end I just couldn't feel that sense of falling-in-love with Italian in particular that Hofstadter so charmingly puts into words above — even stronger he almost seems to feel destined towards learning it, but I certainly don't mean to require such strength. Just something more than "oh, italian's kinda cool" to justify $30/hour. Dunno. I do have a soft spot in my heart for the feel of the romance family as a whole — and the austerity of latin, the seductive murmurings of french, the feisty tunefulness of italian, the mystery of south american spanish.
But learning languages is hard, and commitment is hard. Japanese was too hard, german's scary, french is pulling me in bit by bit, but not winning me over exactly.
And don't ask me about all the work I'm supposed to be doing. :) I am doing a little of it, discussing stuff with Brigitte, but still, oh so little.