Today’s Dante extract (Canto XXV) has helpful instructions from our culture expert, Francesca, on how to do the obscene gesture that one of the damned souls makes towards heaven above. It’s one you see all the time here in Italy, yet only now do I realise what it signifies!
In questo canto [Vanni Fucci – a thief from Florence] bestemmia Dio facendo un gestaccio contro il cielo. Il gestaccio in questione consiste nel tenere chiuso il pugno e mettere il pollice tra il dito medio e l’anulare, in modo da ottenere una forma simile ai genitali femminili (volgarmente: “fica”).
Got that? Keep your fists loosely-closed (and facing upwards, though Francesca doesn’t specify so in the text above), touching the tip of the thumb of each hand to the point between the ends of the middle and ring fingers. If you turn your fist sideways and squint at it, you’ll see that the enclosed space resembles a fig, a shape supposedly similar to female genitals. Now stop squinting and wave your upturned fists furiously at someone who deserves your ire.
Sadly, my wife tells me (when I tested it on her) that nowadays it means “What are you saying?” (or in English, W.T.F.?)
It’s not obscene at all, she insists – the meaning must have changed since Dante’s day. But the poet himself is shocked by it! And the gesticulator gets carried off by snakes.
This week it’s EasyItalianNews.com‘s first birthday! And I wrote an article, in Italian, for yesterday’s bulletin (my first!)
So I can’t resist copying/pasting it here:
è il nostro compleanno:
compie 1 anno!
La prima edizione
di notizie ‘semplificate’
è stato pubblicata
dodici mesi fa,
il diciotto settembre 2018.
Puoi leggerla qui.
Ora quasi quattromila persone
in tanti paesi
ricevono tramite email
Bravi a tutti voi
abbiamo preparato un ebook
con tanti articoli interessanti
il nostro primo anno.
Oggi manderemo UNA COPIA GRATUITA,
come gesto di ringraziamento,
a tutti i lettori
chi ci hanno aiutato
donando piccole o grandi cifre.
The gist of the above is that EasyItalianNews.com is now a toddler and to celebrate we’ve put together a ‘best of’ ebook containing a selection of stories from the first year. You can download a free sample (.pdf) and buy the full version from our online shop.
If you were one of the generous people who donated money to support EasyItalianNews.com over the last 12 months, then we have already sent you instructions on how to get a free copy (by way of thanks!)
You may not have received the email. In which case, just write to me, something along the lines of ‘I donated to EIN but didn’t get the free copy email. Can you help?’
And I will be glad to. It would save time if you could remember which email address you used with Paypal when you donated, and let me know what it was.
At this point I can imagine people all over the world, the ones who didn’t send us cash, touching the tips of their thumbs to the ends of their middle and ring fingers and raising their upturned fists at me!
Never mind. We might repeat the free ebook thing next year, when we are two.
A venerdì, allora.
Oh, nearly forgot! Ciao to Manju, a big Dante fan apparently, who’s currently studying at our school.
She just came up to introduce herself while I was sat in the corridor writing this.
Anyway, she told me she was planning to take some more online lessons with the club, and was just about to buy a pack of 10.
And I said…
Next week we have our Autumn Sale!
Everything will be 20% off!
Why pay more?
There, so now you know too.
And actually, I think Lucia is planning to send out the discount code to existing students a few days early…