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Questions and Comments by the students

This page contains a selection of the questions and comments submitted by the students during the semester. All names will be withheld. My responses, when posted, are formatted in italics.

This page was last updated on Mar. 12, 2006, at 1:09 AM.

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Mar. 11 -- TP sent me an interesting e-mail, which I am posting here, together with a quote on the data found in the American Community Survey, produced by the US Census Bureau. My comments, as usual, are at the end, in italics.

Prof. Fedi,
I find it very interesting that Italians continue to have a weak identity and are flocking to America. On the other hand, Italian Americans are proud of their heritage and try to keep traditions in their families.  Perhaps, once Italians become Italian Americans they will cherish their homeland.

The First Annual Census Data on Italian Americans
March 10, 2006, New York-The Coalition of Italian American Associations is pleased to announce that the first tabulations of the American Community Survey (ACS) summarizing annual data on Italian American demographics nationwide are available. For the first time the ACS provides a national profile of Italian American in the middle years of the decennial census data collection.
The data provides a profile of the demographic, social, economic and other statistics of Italian American based on data collected in the 2004 ACS. The ACS provides an incremental view of how the nationwide Italian American community is changing from the 2000 census “long form” survey. In these four years the Italian American community increased approximately by a 1,093,880 people to approximately 16,817,286. Interestingly the Italian American population change is approximately 26% of the overall United States population increase. Since family size and immigration statistics have not drastically change at this magnitude the higher reporting of Italian American is probably do to the increased reporting of Italian American identity.

I would say that many Italians have a weak national or common identity, but they are strongly rooted in their local cultures. This is also true of many Italian Americans, proud of their ancestry but more in touch with the traditions of their region of origin. I also think that the last statement is very right: the apparently remarkable increase in the number of Italian Americans reported in the Census tabulations is simply due to the fact that more and more Americans are proud to acknowledge their Italian-american identity when surveyed. According to the official data made available in Italy, the number of Italians who moved into the US in recent years is relatively small, in the tens of thousands. [Andrea Fedi]

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Feb. 23 -- SF has a valuable finding to share. My answer is in italics.

Hello Professor,
I had a question regarding Scipio. Is that who the Italian National Anthem refers to when they say it in the song? I thought maybe it was, but then you pronounced his name differently. I know the words to the anthem because I had to memorize it for Italian class in high school, however, I do not know what it says in the line. Please let me know.

You are exactly right, and it's quite a brilliant observation. My pronunciation sounded different from standard Italian because it followed the most common English pronunciation for Latin words.
The beginning of the Italian anthem is the following: "Italian brothers, / Italy has awaken, / She has wreathed her head / With the helmet of Scipio . . ."
These words suggest that the newly unified Italy will relive the victories and the triumphs of Scipio. [Andrea Fedi]

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Jan. 23 -- Two different students asked the same question: How difficult is it to get an A in this class?

It is difficult to give a short, meaningful answer to this question. The last time that I taught this class, in the Spring of 2004, 202 students were still enrolled at the end of the semester, and the average final grade was C. The median grade was C+ (in other terms, half of the students got a grade of C+ or higher). The grades were distributed as follows:
- 28 students got A or A- (approx. 14% of the total)
- 60 students got B+, B or B- (approx. 30% of the total)
- 79 students got C+, C or C- (approx. 39% of the total)
- 13 students got D+ or D (approx. 6% of the total)
- 22 student got an F (approx. 11% of the total)
Keep in mind that the Fs included a number of students who did not attend exams, never submitted a paper, or committed plagiarism and were reported to the Academic Judiciary Committee.
These are the numeric equivalents of the letter grades:
- 94-100 = A
- 90-93 = A-
- 87-89 = B+
- 84-86 = B
- 80-83 = B-
- 77-79 = C+
- 74-76 = C
- 70-73 = C-
- 66-69 = D+
- 60-65 = D
- 0-59 = F

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This web site is owned and managed by Dr. Andrea Fedi, Dept. of European Languages, University of Stony Brook (NY). © 2006