Today we are going to throw some light on the characteristics of adverbs and adjectives in the Italian language with the aid of the song ‘Almeno tu nell’Universo’. The song was originally performed outstandingly by Mia Martini at the 1989 Sanremo Festival, but I’m in love with the version made by Elisa in 2003.
The song, literally “At least you in the Universe”, is a letter written by a lover in which she wonders about the peculiar way people behave. The oddity, insignificance and pure futility of the actions that we witness and perform (first they hate and then love each other, when the fads change they also change) are flashed in brief and poignant vividness.
People are strange (la gente è strana), or maybe they are just mad (la gente è matta), but in the effort to account for the underlying reason of the weird actions of the masses, she puts forth that it might just be that their inner dissatisfaction, their inner emptiness even, is what really drives them. Because in the end, people are lonely (la gente è sola) and they console themselves as they can (come può lei si consola). Such a bittersweet remark, people in their crowds and plurality are essentially alone. Maybe because they don’t have that kind of love she is praising in their own lives.
So, in the absurdity of it all, she begs her lover to never change since he is the only one in the universe to differ. You think she must have been really lucky to find him, such a sun (un sole),a diamond in the midst of the heart (un diamante in mezzo al cuore). Yet, one wonders if he’s that special because he’s actually that amazing or simply because he’s not as irrational and petty as the people she’s surrounded by (not such a high standard after all!).
Also, she asks him to prevent her to fall into false beliefs and needless fears, showing that she, too, falls prey to insecurities, maybe she feels alone as well and the whole song could have been a reflection and self critique of her own behavior and her wish to find someone, at least this one person in the universe, that could fill and revive her dull heart like a diamond would shine in the midst of it (Come un diamante in mezzo al cuore).
The lyrics of the text, along with my translation and a related YouTube video, are at the end of the page.
Italian adjectives and adverbs
Italian Adjectives, Aggettivi, describe a given name in the sentence. They can be placed either before or after the noun, though it is more common to say
La penna nuova (the pen new) rather than la nuova penna (the new pen).
Adjectives in Italian need to correspond in gender and number to the name they refer to.
la penna nuova – the new pen fem.sing. le penne nuove – the new pens fem plur
il tavolo nuovo – the new table masc. sing. i tavoli nuovi – the new tables masc. plur.
As a rule of thumb, the gender and number of Italian nouns can be gauged by the type of endings they have
- -o endings indicate the noun is masculine and singular
- -a indicate the noun is feminine and singular
- -i indicate the noun is masculine and plural
- -e indicate the noun is feminine and plural
When the verb ‘essere’ (to be) precedes an adjective, a predicate nominative is formed.
La gente è matta – People are mad
Questo musicista è diverso – This musician is different
I genitori sono soli – The parents are alone
Adverbs, Avverbi, are identifiers placed closely to the verb (from the latin Ad Verbum),usually after it, that describe the way the action is carried on. Adverbs can also be used to modify adjectives, noun phrases or other adverbs. They may be of manner, time, place, frequency, quantity and so forth.
Differently from adjectives, adverbs don’t change their form depending on the number of people carrying on the action, for example. They will remain the same regardless of the gender, also. Many Italian adverbs are formed by changing the gender of the adjective to the feminine and adding the suffix -mente to the relative adjective.
- nuov-o becomes nuov-a before the suffix –mente is attached to it and thus we have nuovamente
- lento | lenta–mente
- cieco | cieca–mente
- continuo | continua–mente
Almeno tu nell’Universo Song Lyrics
So here we go with the text. Note that I have highlighted some of the most easily spotted adverbs and the adjectives present in the predicate nominative. Go on, sing, learn and enjoy!
Almeno tu nell’Universo
Sai, la gente è strana
Prima si odia e poi si ama
Cambia idea improvvisamente
Prima la verità, poi mentiranno Senza serietà
Come fosse niente
Sai, la gente è matta
Forse troppo insoddisfatta
Segue il mondo ciecamente
Quando la moda cambia
Lei pure cambia
Tu, tu che sei diverso
Almeno tu nell’Universo
Un punto sei che non ruota mai intorno a me
Un sole che splende per me soltanto
Come un diamante in mezzo al cuore
Sai, la gente è sola,
come può lei si consola
non far si che la mia mente
Si perda in congetture, in paure
Inutilmente, poi per niente
Tu, tu che sei diverso
Almeno tu nell’universo
Dimmi che per sempre sarai sincero
E che mi amerai davvero di piu’ di piu’ di piu’
At Least you in the Universe
You know, people are strange
First they hate then they love each other
They change their minds suddenly
First the truth, then they will lie
Without seriousness, as if it was nothing
You know, people are crazy
Maybe too unsatisfied
They blindly follow the world
When fads change, so do they
But you, you that are different
At least you in the universe!
You are a point that never revolves around me
A sun that shines for me only
Like a diamond in the middle of the heart.
You know, people are lonely,
they console themselves as they can
Don’t let my mind wonder in conjectures, in fears
Vainly, and in the end purposelessly
You, you that are different
At least you in the universe
You’ll never change,
Tell me you’ll always be honest
And you will love me truly more, more, more