What has grammar to do with a storm? You may ask. I was thinking to the right way to tell you why I put so little grammar in the Speak Italian Magically approach. As usual something synchronic happens. In fact, I just happened to open the book The magic of metaphor [Le parole portano lontano in italiano] and come across the grammarian story. Let me tell it to you in Italian-English, as I did for each episode of Speak Italian Magically.
I strongly suggest to listen to it in Italian first and at the end, ask yourself: What is Antonio telling me about?
Click here to download and listen to the story. Watch the 2016 version of the same story on youtube: https://youtu.be/qGQ_AQ6qvQM
Then you can listen to it again while reading it below. Have fun.
Un uomo d’affari ha invitato un amico, un insegnante, a fare una gita in barca. A businessman has invited his friend, a teacher, to do a trip on (his) boat. Mentre l’uomo d’affari si occupa della navigazione, l’insegnante si rilassa sul ponte. While the businessman takes care of the navigation, the teacher relaxes on the deck.
Dopo un po’ l’insegnante chiede: << Che ne dici, che tempo farà?>> After a while, the teacher asks: “What do you say, what the weather will be like?”
L’uomo d’affari guarda il cielo, annusa l’aria e controlla la direzione del vento. The businessman looks at the sky, sniffs the air and checks the direction of the wind.
<<A me mi sembra proprio che ci sarà un temporale>>, dice. “To me myself really seems that there is going to be a storm”
L’insegnante rimane scioccato. <<Non si dice ‘a me mi’! Non la conosci la grammatica? Si dice:’ a me sembra…a me sembra proprio che ci sarà un temporale’. Amico mio, se non conosci la grammatica hai perso metà della tua vita>>.The teacher is shocked. “You can’t say ‘to me myself’! Don’t you know grammar? You say: ‘ it seems to me…it really seems to me there’s going to be a storm’. My friend, if you don’t know grammer you’ve wasted half your life.”
L’uomo d’affari scuote appena la testa e continua a portare la barca con abilità, guardando l’orizzonte. The businessman merely shrugs his head and carries on navigating the boat with skill and looking at the horizon.
Un po’ di tempo dopo, come l’uomo d’affari ha previsto, si scatena un forte temporale. Some time later, as the businessman has predicted, a huge storm blows up. Il vento è impetuoso, le onde enormi e la piccola barca viene sballottata dall’acqua.The wind is high, the waves (are) huge and the little boat is swamped with water.
Sovrastando il rumore della tempesta, l’uomo d’affari chiede all’insegnante: <<Sai nuotare?>> Over the roar of the storm, the businessman asks the teacher: “Do you know how to swim?”
<<No, perché mai dovrei essere capace di nuotare?>> “No, why on earth should I be able to swim?”
<<In questo caso>>, dice l’uomo d’affari, <<hai perso la tua vita del tutto, perché a me mi sembra che stiamo affondando>>. “In this case“, says the businessman, ” You’ve wasted all your life, because to me myself it seems we are going to sink.”
So why didn’t I talk a lot about grammar in Speak Italian Magically?
Let me tell ask you another question. When you were a child, did you know which grammar part you were using when you were saying “mamma”? Did you first learn grammar and then you spoke? I don’t think so…That’s why you need to focus on listening first, to acquire the Italian language. Later you could also work on grammar…but then it will be a refinement work and the storm (like in the above story) will be over. And you will Speak Italian Magically!
Photo on this page by toasto.com. Music in the story by: Kevin Macleod