Are you superstitious?
Yes? No? A little?
Well, I’ve another free set of Italian conversation prompts for you.
This one’s on Superstizione, credenza e destino (supersition, belief and destiny).
Try it with friends from your Italian class, perhaps over coffee and donuts.
Or, if you’re taking online Italian lessons, why not suggest it to your teacher as the basis for a lesson?
Either way, speaking practice is always good. You could even do it alone…
With this one, there are now ten ‘conversation lessons’ on the club site.
And I have more coming!
Find the whole set on the ‘Conversation’ page.
It’s been a quiet week, really.
Lucia and I are preparing for one of our biannual ‘Free Trial Online Italian Lesson’ offers, which I have already mentioned here.
You’ll be able to get this online Italian lesson (which as you can see is currently priced at £20) without paying anything at all.
There’ll be no requirement to enter payment details, no tricks, no ‘cancel any time if not satisfied’.
Just a genuine, ‘try it and see if you like it’ offer.
A half hour, one-to-one Italian lesson, with a club teacher, who, rest assured, will get paid normally.
I’ll be looting the marketing budget to finance lessons for however many club members would like to try one, and haven’t yet done so.
(Sorry, but if you’ve already had a free lesson in the past, this offer isn’t for you…)
Use your thirty-minutes to speak Italian, to get help with any grammar you can’t quite work out, or to do whatever it is that will benefit you most!
For the whole of next week, all you’ll need to do to claim your free lesson is to click on that product option in our online shop.
Just as with any ecommerce site, you then add it to your cart, press ‘proceed with order’ and wait for our teacher manager, Lucia, to contact you to set up the details.
There’ll be more info about this on Monday.
In the meantime, if you’re curious to see our online lesson pricing options, click here.
Melinda wrote in recommending Reverso.
She says the app is better, though I didn’t look at it, I confess, because I’m a laptop/website sort of guy at heart.
First thing I noticed on their site was that they didn’t have the languages that interest me most (Swedish and Turkish at the moment), though that won’t bother you too much, I’m sure.
There certainly seems to be plenty to explore. The basic idea seems to be that you can translate sentences into and back from various languages.
Normally, when I’m evaluating a dictionary or online learning tool, I’ll look to see if they have any taboo words (as we used to do when we were kids at school!)
But it’s not just for a giggle.
The idea is to see how comprehensive the dictionary is, and how complete, or how censorious the tool might be.
Thanks, but I’ll make my own decisions about what I want to see, no mothering necessary!
Of course, I look up taboo words I already know, like for example that Italian word that starts with a C, continues with an A, ends in an O, and has a coupled of Zs in the middle.
If that doesn’t sound familiar, look it up in the authoritative and free Wordreference.com (but don’t tell your grandmother it was me that suggested it.)
(Don’t click here if you’re the sensitive or easily-outraged type!)
So, now we all know what we’re using as a test item, let’s see what Reverso makes of it.
Click here to go their Italian/English translate tool.
I’d give you a direct link to the results but sadly they don’t make that technically possible.
So, if you want to see what I can see, type in those Cs, As, Zs and Os and see what comes up.
While Reverso doesn’t actually tell you what the noun means, it IS pretty good at showing you how it’s used (in speech, by naughty people, I qualify…)
All three examples seem like natural Italian to me. Just the sort of expressions I’d expect to hear on a boys’ night out.
Ditto the English translations, which seem appropriate, not that I would know.
So, the only weak point is that there’s no ‘proper’ dictionary definition, such as wordreference.com offers.
OK, let’s move on from the taboo words to higher things.
We’ll give Reverso a try with some nice grammar!
When I’m teaching (English to Italians), I can’t help but notice how the position of adverbs in Italian is more flexible than in English.
And that there’s one position in a sentence in which an adverb is perfectly OK for Italians, but not cool at all for English speakers.
The classic example would be ‘Mi piace molto andare al cinema’.
Google Translate renders that as ‘I really like going to the cinema’.
See how, in Italian, the adverb ‘molto’ comes between the verb and its complement?
That’s normal in Italian, but not in English.
Do these sentences sound right to you?
I drink often tea after lunch.
I go usually to my language school on Mondays.
My students make always this mistake.
If not, then you see the problem they face.
Did you notice how, in the translation, Google changed ‘molto’ to ‘really’ and bunged it in before the verb, rather than after?
That’s because in English, when a ‘verb meaning’ requires a complement (that is to say, it’s being used transitively), then our brains expect the complement to follow promptly along right after the verb.
Should anything else appear in that position, we’ll switch hypothesis about how the sentence will likely proceed.
I drink (next, I’m expecting to hear ‘tea’, or perhaps ‘to forget’.)
I drink often (now I assume the verb phrase is at an end. Maybe the next one will explain. ‘But only when my wife lets me.’)
But I’ve got off track – going back, Google translated ‘Mi piace molto andare al cinema’ to ‘I really like going to the cinema’.
Very good, Google. Pat on the head!
Just to be sure, I did it the other way around, inputting ‘I really like going to the cinema’ and getting ‘Mi piace molto andare al cinema’.
What will Reverso make of the same phrase?
‘I really like going to the cinema’ gets me ‘Mi piace andata al cinema realmente’.
Which sucks, I think you’ll agree.
It must be the product of an alorithim and an old one at that (copyright data for the site refers to 2002…)
No human translator could come up with something so horrible, surely?
Perhaps I’ll have more luck trying it the other way around, from Italian to English?
Typing in ‘Mi piace molto andare al cinema’ brings up:
‘I like a lot to go to the cinema’.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…