Monday, July 22, 2013

Andante, definition, take a walk...

Defining terms...

Andante
Means walking tempo. The dictionary will tell you it means "In moderately slow time" but what good does that do? Granted everyone walks at different tempos, so that definition is also intrinsically problematic, but at least you know how fast you walk. :)

Linguistic Roots:
Andante is Italian, but because of its Latin (think Roman not Latino) roots, it holds a variety of meanings kind of the way the word "go" in English holds different meanings. "Go" can mean traveling, moving, going to the bathroom (teehee), if used as slang, gone can mean "insane" eg. I looked into her eyes and I could tell she was gone. Or it can mean dead, "I'm sorry Helga, but the wabbit is gone."
Understanding the vague, often multipurpose meanings of Latin derived words is complex and depends upon context. In this case Andante comes from Andare, which is Italian for:
to go
to run
to work
to be
to ride
to drive
to walk
to travel
to like

That's a really long list, so understanding context is key.
The Latin suffix -ante (as in andANTE) means to come before something, in this case, time. Think footsteps, one foot coming down before the other.. in time. So with wibbly-wobbly translation And-ante could mean to walk in time, to go in time, to travel in time, to ride in time, to run in time, to be in time etc.
That is possibly one of the coolest things about language, it communicates ideas, often times with a large amount of imprecision that leaves a HUGE amount of interpretational variation for the reader that can often times only be simplified by context.

Now my question to the reader is; how the heck could someone get "in moderately slow time" from any of this? There are many ways to translate Andante.. but the interpretation proffered in the dictionary is a little far gone. (see what I just did, hehehe)
It's all good though, because we can fact check with google. Music dictionary, I call you out on your short comings and further proclaim that your definition of Andante is debunked!! No longer shall we be constrained to the stinky interpretation of "moderately slow."

Whew, well that was a mouth full. 

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