You’re visiting Italy, or perhaps watching Italian TV or reading a news website.
There’s a picture of a masked demonstrator waving a “No TAV!” placard.
Know what it’s all about?
If not, it’s not your knowledge of Italian that’s at fault….
Is your “cultural knowledge” letting you down?
It’s quite likely.
Unless you live in a country, you’re probably not up on the big issues of the day.
T.A.V. refers to “Treno Alta Velocità” (high speed train).
The demonstrators are protesting about the construction of the railyway line and tunnels through their peaceful valleys. You could find out more here.
Grammar and vocabulary are not enough
Don’t know who Letta, Renzi and Alfano are?
Then even with a complete knowledge of Italian grammar and vocabulary, and perfect listening and speaking skills, you’d be at a loss in any Italian bar or dinner party conversation.
I’d argue that knowledge of what’s actually going on in the culture whose language you’re learning is MORE important than knowledge of the language itself.
I got by for years in Italy without the conjuntivo, for example. But wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes without knowing what CF, IRPEF, IVA, and GdF were.
Where can I get some “cultural knowledge” then?
Reading a lot helps. Watch TV. Visit Italian Internet sites.
All the obvious things.
Here’s an exercise on Italian abbreviations (one of the very few on this site I wrote myself, hope you like it!)
If you like reading about politics, you’ll need to know these Italian building names used to talk about institutions or people.
And of course, keep reading these articles!
P.S. Next week there’ll be a special offer on e-books in our shop, so start thinking about what you’d like from Babbo Natale…
Now let’s here what YOU think!
Is “cultural knowledge” more important than grammar? Click here to visit the site and add your views.