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  #1  
Unread 07-10-2019, 06:49 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Default Reading Italian

Hi all,

My Latin is now pretty darn good, and I can read French and Spanish pretty alright. I got my Latin in a different way, but I've used some books aimed for graduate students to really get the other two languages good enough to read Le Monde and El Mundo and academic prose. Poetry with work.

Yet I can't seem to find an equivalent of "French for Reading" or "Spanish for Reading" with Italian. Given I have a decent amount of the related languages, I'm looking for a text that might do that. Do I just need to buy a grammar?

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 07-11-2019 at 06:27 AM.
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Unread 07-10-2019, 08:03 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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I've found this helpful. It's more detailed than it looks at first blush--some of the charts are collapsed and have to be expanded before you can see all that they offer:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_grammar

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 07-10-2019 at 08:09 PM.
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Unread 07-11-2019, 02:57 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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With your language strengths the move over into Italian should be smooth. Why not just books written in really good Italian, with a grammar and a dictionary at hand?

I'd recommend Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio and Alessandro Manzoni's I promessi sposi (The Betrothed), for the excellent Italian, not always easy but you can trust the sources. A more modern writer to try in this way is Cesare Pavese, or maybe (more difficult) Italo Calvino.

Good luck.
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Unread 07-11-2019, 05:37 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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It may still be possible to buy a bilingual Divina commedia for $5 or so. Andrew, I don't know what you think of the Bickersteth terza rima version, but I like it a good deal. I found it easier to wade into Dante than into the great Manzoni. Also, Dante is neatly bite-size in his canti, you can have a sense of achievement and take a break when needed.
Leopardi I found challenging.
Here's the Geoffrey Bickersteth (used) for $4.49 at Amazon.

Cheers,
John

Last edited by John Isbell; 07-11-2019 at 06:14 AM. Reason: took out link ...
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Unread 07-11-2019, 07:22 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Julie: Thank you. I've bookmarked this as an easy, searchable grammar.

Andrew: the dictionary should be fine (I tend to use online ones for reading nowadays), but do you have a suggestion for a progressive grammar? I've put Pavese's La Bella Estate and Pinocchio in my cart. Thank you.

John: A quick amazon search couldn't find me a good bilingual Dante for that price. I am obviously hoping to read it because of my interest in the Duecento, Trecento, and later poetry (I know there's excellent fiction, too, but I read that less).
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Unread 07-11-2019, 07:31 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

Sorry, I took out the link because it's to my Amazon account, I believe! But what I searched on Amazon was "Bickersteth Divine Comedy," and it gave me that used copy for $4.49. I think it should still be there. Bickersteth does a pretty good job of keeping one line of Italian to one line of English, while rhyming in terza rima, which makes it great as a crib and decent (to my mind) poetry as well.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 07-11-2019, 07:34 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I do enjoy the Bickersteth, John, thanks to your recommendation, though I can't claim to have read lots and lots of it or thought about it in relation to other translations. But in my opinion Dante is not an especially good way to learn Italian at first. Or Petrarch or Montale for that matter. They can't hurt, obviously, but I think the masters of prose such as Manzoni help more with getting a feel for the language. Also, children's lit can be great for that, as well as enjoyable to read, and Pinocchio is really really good Italian prose.

Andrew, I just saw your post. Do you know the Princeton Dante site? They have bilingual everything of Dante: http://etcweb.princeton.edu/dante/index.html I honestly don't know what to suggest for the grammar. The best dictionary is Zanichelli. Also, online, the Treccani, http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 07-11-2019 at 07:38 AM.
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Unread 07-11-2019, 07:42 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew F., cool to hear that about Pinocchio! I had no idea. The great poets - Petrarch, Tasso or Ariosto, Montale or Quasimodo - I find hard going without a crib. My poor Italian is getting increasingly rusty. Dante, with my less than bilingual Italian, wasn't impenetrable, whereas Manzoni was an uphill climb. He reminded me a bit of Tolstoy. You'd think prose would be more accessible, but Dante made sense. One reason I love him.

On Commedia translations - there are plenty out there to be avoided. For one thing, Dante put a lot of work into his terza rima, and almost all English versions discard it. I believe the Penguin is in prose. Andrew, I'm glad to hear your thumbs up to Bickersteth, he gets little credit in my experience.

Cheers,
John

Update: if the Princeton Dante is free, that beats $4.49.
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Unread 07-11-2019, 07:45 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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You have a good point about the Manzoni, John. I was thinking just reading selections from him, the novel is very long. But yeah, Pinocchio is a great way to get into it. Also Calvino's versions of Italian fairy tales, very fun and of course nicely written.
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Unread 07-15-2019, 05:29 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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John & Andrew:

Thank you for your suggestions. I also found a booklet called "Italian is Easy if You Know Latin" published in 1960. It's 16 pages and bridges Latin to Italian alright. I'm going to get the Cavese and use the Dante Andrew suggested, and hopefully that can get me there.
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