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Month: February 2017

Italian Lullabies

Italian Lullabies

I’ve been in baby mode for the past few weeks due to the recent birth of my daughter (mia figlia). During this time, I learned two Italian lullabies that I think you will enjoy: “Brilla, Brilla La Stellina” and “Stella, Stellina.” I was going to write about “Ninna Nanna, Ninna Oh,” but it is about giving your baby to an old witch and a mysterious dark man (uomo nero), so my wife told me it was too creepy to put on the website. She’s probably right, but if you are curious you can check out the song and somewhat disturbing cartoon here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ8D9ClvwmM.

“Brilla, Brilla La Stellina” is the Italian version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” The lyrics are different, but the melody is the same.

Brilla, brilla una stellina

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Su nel cielo, piccolina.

So small in up in the sky.

Brilla, brilla sopra noi

Twinkle, twinkle over us.

Mi domando di che sei?

How I wonder what you are.

Brilla, brilla la stellina

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Ora tu sei più vicina.

Now you are closer.

(Repeat above verse.)

Brilla, brilla la stellina

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Ora tu sei più vicina.

Now you are closer.

“Stella, Stellina” is about farm animals getting ready to sleep, and it is a great way to teach your child the Italian words for popular animals.

Stella, stellina

Star, little star

La notte si avvicina

The night is coming.

La fiamma traballa

The flame flickers.

La mucca è nella stalla.

The cow is in the stable.

La pecora e l’agnello

The sheep and the lamb

La vacca col vitello

The cow with the calf

La chioccia coi pulcini

The hen with the chicks

La gatta coi gattini.

The cat with the kittens.

E tutti fan la nanna

And everyone goes to sleep

Nel cuore della mamma.

In the mother’s heart.

Vocabulary and Grammar Notes

Since “Brilla, Brilla La Stellina” is about a star, here are some other objects you may see in the sky:

  • Cloud: nuvola                                                                                                  
  • Sun: sole
  • Plane: aeroplano
  • Bird: uccello
  • Moon: luna

“Stella, Stellina” teaches your child about different farm animals. Here are some more animals that you may find on a fattoria:

  • Dog: cane                                                                                                          
  • Bird: uccello
  • Horse: cavallo
  • Goat: capra
  • Fish: pesce
  • Donkey: asino
  • Duck: anatra
  • Goose: oca
  • Pig: maiale

The second to last phrase of “Stella, Stellina” is “E tutti fan la nanna.” This is a shortened version of the phrase “tutti fanno la nanna” which translated literally means “Everyone does the nighty-night,” or “Everyone does the sleep.” In its colloquial form, it means “Everyone goes to sleep.”

The verb “fare” means “to make or to do.” It is conjugated as follows:

Io faccio

Tu Fai

Lui/Lei Fa

Noi Facciamo

Voi Fate

Loro Fanno

Fare is a multi-functional verb that can be used to convey diverse meanings from “Lo faccio” (I’ll do it) to “Fai lo scemo” (You play the fool.) Fare is also used to describe the weather, hearkening to Italy’s Catholic roots. “Fa caldo” means “It’s hot,” and “Fa freddo” means “It’s cold.” Translated literally, these phrases suggest that someone (God) is making it hot or cold.

I hope you enjoy singing the above lullabies to your children. I’d love to hear about your favorite Italian lullaby in the comments below.