Having trouble learning Italian?
Can’t understand a word anyone says to you?
Can’t get a coherent sentence out?
Blame Nimrod, A.K.A. Nembrotto.
He was a King from Genesis (the first book of the Bible, not the English rock band.)
He’s a giant, apparently, famous for having tried to construct the Tower of Babel.
So the story goes, until that moment everyone spoke the same language, which of course made it easier to cooperate in constructing a tower which would be tall enough to reach heaven.
So enabling its users to take tea with God, or whatever the idea was.
But the Lord, looking down and seeing the tower getting higher and higher, intervened so as to ensure that people from different places were unable to communicate with each other any longer.
So single-handedly creating the language school industry, and blogs like this one.
Thank you, Lord! And Nembrotto, of course.
Anyway, Dante comes across Nimrod/Nembrotto briefly in Canto XXXI of Inferno but, not understanding a single syllable the giant directs at him, passes on to chat with more interesting denizens of that particular circle of hell.
Here’s the relevant bit (which ISN’T in our extract. I picked it out myself!!! Don’t know exactly what it all means, but enough to get the general idea, I hope…)
Poi disse a me: «Elli stessi s’accusa;
questi è Nembrotto per lo cui mal coto
pur un linguaggio nel mondo non s’usa.
Lasciànlo stare e non parliamo a vòto;
ché così è a lui ciascun linguaggio
come ‘l suo ad altrui, ch’a nullo è noto»
If anyone would like to translate that, do feel free to try.
Post your efforts in a comment on this article, or email your version to me for publication on Friday.
It doesn’t have to rhyme, as Dante’s version does.
Anyway, Francesca’s ‘official’ extracts from Canto XXXI are here:
And the rest of the series, extracts from the previous thirty cantos, can be found on our Literature page.
N.b. Did you know there’s an Italian language school in Rome called ‘Torre di Babele‘? Quite a famous one. I went there once for an ASILS – Association of Italian Language Schools – meeting (our school is also a member.)
It always seemed like an odd choice of name, though. Still, I suppose the fact that studying there condemns you to not understanding any foreigner ever again is no obstacle to quality language teaching…
A venerdì, allora.
Don’t forget the ‘damsel in distress’!
Don’t forget this week’s new ebook easy reader, the second in a trilogy of historical mysteries set in the court of the infamous Borgias, Anselmo e la moglie spagnola.
(The first volume in the trilogy is Anselmo e l’omicidio di Giovanni Borgia.)
Anselmo the apothecary is asked to help two Spanish aristocrats who married into the infamous Borgia family and, rather like the Kurds in Syria, suddenly found themselves in very changed circumstances when powerful figures unexpectedly changed their alliances…
Check out the Free Sample Chapter (.pdf) to get an idea of the level and format of the material.
Anselmo e la moglie spagnola, is on offer this week only, at just £5.99 rather than the usual easy reader ebook price of £7.99.
- .pdf e-book (+ audio available free online)
- .mobi (Kindle-compatible) and .epub (other ebook readers) available on request at no extra charge – just add a note to the order form or email us
- 8 chapters to read and listen to
- Comprehension questions to check your understanding
- Italian/English glossary of ‘difficult’ terms for the level
- Suitable for students at intermediate or advanced levels
- Download your Free Sample Chapter (.pdf)
Your ebook will be emailed to you within 24 hours of purchase.
Saturday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news is waiting for you here.
I confess, I haven’t read/listened to it yet, though I always try to, as my wife is the editor and my son records the text.
That way, if they make a mess of it, I can reproach them over dinner.
(An interesting thing just happened – I had the Italian word I needed in my head ‘rimproverare‘ and couldn’t think of the right English equivalent, so had to look it up in WordReference.com. O.M.G. the Nimrod effect!)
Anyway, do read/listen to Tuesday’s easy Italian news bulletin, as there’ll be another along tomorrow (Thursday), and another on Saturday, and so on.
And while I didn’t manage to read/listen to the Italian, I did manage to do three separate simplified Swedish news broadcasts, all from different sources, so I’m not a lost cause!
If anyone’s learning Swedish, write to me and I’ll send you the links.