It’s a rare Friday morning that I don’t already have ideas about what to write to club members.
However, due to the fact that most of my creative juices have, this week, been flowing towards my newly-selected career as an unpublished (and no doubt unpublishable) poet, I was, at least until moments ago, quite stumped.
But then I remembered – the audio recording for a new ebook, ‘Dante, gatto vagante’, popped into my email inbox yesterday evening, while I was in the pub around the corner from the school celebrating my birthday with a pint of BrewDog’s Punk IPA (Italian’s pronounce that ‘eepa’, by the way.)
My, what long sentences today. Must be the wine I drank after the ‘eepa’.
Anyway, having now got the .mp3s from faithful Natalia, I’ll find an hour or so over the weekend to format this masterpiece and upload it to our online shop, all ready for ‘Dante Stray Cat’ (or better, perhaps, ‘Dante, Wandering Cat’) to begin his adventures on Monday.
I feel a didactic moment coming on… Notice that the title is capitalised differently in English and Italian versions? It’s easy to miss, but important. Italians capitalise just the first word (and any proper nouns, of course.) You read it here first, but this nugget will doubtless be published somewhere in Russia, too.
Also, and here’s a good one, Italians cannot get their heads around OUR drive-by-shooting-style use of the ‘maiuscola’ in this example:
Dear Mr Stephens,
It is with regret that I am writing to tell you that we have completed our recruitment process and appointed another candidate.
Did you spot it? The capital letter after the ‘virgola’ following my ‘cognome’?
It drives them bananas.
Italians like their rules to be obeyed (unless they relate to driving or taxes) and so will write
siamo spiacenti di doverLa informare che abbiamo completato il processo di assunzione e scelto un altro candidato.
See the difference?
“But how can you use a capital after a comma? How CAN you?”
‘Mille grazie’ to Mrs Stephens for the translation (she hates being called that – Italian women never take their husbands’ surnames, thinking it anachronistic and primitive).
Oh, and I’m not really a ‘Doctor’ – it’s a form of address used for anyone with a college/university degree. No need of a phd to be pompous here. In fact, honorifics like this are really common – I get called all sorts of things: prof. (for teacher), dott. (dottore – as I’m a graduate), dir. (direttore, as I manage a company), not yet ‘presidente’, but that’s a really common one too, no kidding – every organisation, every board, every committee has a ‘presidente’, often more than one. School’s have a ‘preside’ (principal/head teacher), just to be different.
Others you’ll see often include avv., ing., arch., rag., and geom. – in fact, you should probably be using one yourself. Check out Wikipedia’s helpful entry and tool up, so as not to be dissed on your next visit to Italy.
Talking of which, Wikipedia has noticed I link to them a lot and keeps showing me messages about making a donation (most people don’t, they say.)
‘Francamente/Sinceramente’ (pick one) I never give to good causes, or to beggars (of which we have many here in Bologna), even when they call me ‘dottore’ or ‘professore’ as they chase me down the street. Perhaps I should begin.
Anyway, back to ‘Dante, gatto vagante’. So as to avoid the necessity of you holding your breath the entire weekend, I thought I’d post the text for the free-sample-chapter-to-be, just to pad this out a little.
Da da da dah!
DANTE, GATTO VAGANTE
(I detest the way our writers use all caps for their titles and will be spending half of Sunday manually retyping them…)
CAPITOLO 1. QUALCOSA VA STORTO
(STOP doing that!)
È un bel giorno a Venezia. La primavera è da poco iniziata e le giornate si stanno scaldando. Dante ha voglia di uscire per godersi un po’ il sole.
Dante è un bel gattino, col pelo bianco e nero. Ma è tanto bello quanto ribelle, curioso e anche un po’ birichino. Perlomeno la sua padroncina, Anna, la pensa così tutte le volte che cerca di mettergli il collarino col microchip, e Dante non ne vuole sapere: gli piace sentirsi libero.
Ogni mattina esce nel cortile, sale sul muretto e se ne va in giro. Perlopiù trascorre le giornate inseguendo farfalle e topolini o esplorando le calli di Castello, il sestiere dove abita. Verso sera ritorna a casa, miagola sotto la finestra e Anna lo fa entrare. Tutto soddisfatto, divora i croccantini che Anna ha già versato nella sua ciotola, beve e si addormenta vicino alla sua padroncina.
Anche questa mattina Dante esce come tutti i giorni. Ma oggi succede qualcosa di inaspettato.
Dopo uno dei suoi soliti giretti, Dante vede una barca ormeggiata al sole, con delle casse di frutta e verdura. In un angolo c’è una bella coperta che sembra davvero molto invitante…! Così decide di salire sulla barca, si accovaccia al sole e si addormenta: che bella vita!
Improvvisamente però si sveglia perché sente dei rumori insoliti: la barca sta partendo! Aiuto!! Dove andrà a finire?
perlomeno: at least
non volerne sapere: to not want to listen
calli: long and narrow roads of Venice
sestiere: one of the six districts in which Venice is divided
padroncina: little owner
accovacciarsi: to squat, to crouch
It hasn’t been proof-read yet, so feel free to not write in and tell me if you find a blooper, or don’t agree with a translation in the glossary – those I’ll fix while doing the final formatting.
And that, amici, is more or less it for this ‘venerdì mattina’.
Except just to say ‘grazie’ also to the lady who emailed to say she liked my poem because her husband sneezes loudly too.
A lunedì, allora.
New people subscribe to the club mailing list all the time.
And then they get an email like this one…
Well hey, that’s life.
But just in case you were trying to figure out what this is all for, let me summarise:
1. Learning a language takes forever
2. Most people give up before they reach whatever goal they started with
3. Being part of some sort of ‘community’ (a ‘club’ maybe) might help
4. So my job is to get in touch regularly, hopefully in a not-boring way, and remind you to keep at it
5. We sell stuff to pay our bills (the club’s, not mine) and generate cash to make free things that anyone can use
And if that makes no kind of sense to you, do go ahead and unsubscribe.
There’s a link at the bottom of every mailing sent, every time.
Click it, do.