On re-learning Italian

December 10, 2009

I’ve dragged out my old textbooks and anthologies of Italian short stories, in preparation for my university undergraduate course starting 15 February 2010.  I’ve acquired this semester’s textbook, but not the dictionary. I’m trawling the net for anything that will boost my confidence and bring back the allegria of learning Italian. I feel I’m in that limbo between the final chapter of the introductory textbook which focuses on la politica in Italia and conquering Buzzati in the original, without a translation.

The problems are very particular for mature-age, external, part-time university students like myself because it’s all about finding nooks and crannies in one’s daily routine in which study becomes comfortable and almost effortless. To this end, I am finding that I can read the Italian newspaper on the bus journeys to and from work, or over lunch. At home on the ‘net, I think YouTube might be worthwhile for karaoke Italian pop songs. I’d like to read at least one Italian short story a day till the course starts, regardless of whether it’s in the original or not.

Certainly part of the discipline of study requires me to type up rough translations and post them here on an almost daily basis. Indubitably they can’t be of any interest to anyone except myself. It’s not about the outcome or the literary quality of the translation, it’s about the focus that comes with taking into account every word and not the usual “skim” for global comprehension. The beauty of the blog is that I can go back and correct my translations as my knowledge improves – everything becomes a work-in-progress! Obviously too it would be nice to include the diacritical marks, but that will come in time.

Yesterday, I read Cassola’s “I Poveri” in the original and in an English translation – the lay religious woman who somewhat defensively helps the poor in her village during the Fascist era. And it’s been fascinating reading about nuclear energy generation in Italy, health benefits for defactos starting up in Emiglia-Romagna, the climate change conference in Copenhagen (full of new words like inviato (?envoy) and vertice) as well as local politics “translated” into Italian (cabinetto ombra, i Verdi, ministro dei Resourci Idriche, ect.). A domani!

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