Friday, 28 September 2012

Lo...and behold: Italian Grammar Errors

Grammar irritations are multilingual and today I'm a Grammar Fascista.

I've just finished reading The Villa Triste by Lucrezia Grindle on my beloved (plain ordinary, no colours or music) Kindle. You can find the book HERE.

It's a good read and I found it horrifying to discover that I apparently knew nothing about the fate of the Italian people during the war. As one commentator (well, OK, my husband) said "It was two enemies fighting each other. We didn't care". Clearly my history teachers didn't care because I don't remember Italy being discussed at all. Without giving anything away it's a story of the Italian "partisan" resistance and how their lives intertwine with a murder in the present day. You can read as much in the Amazon reviews and mine will be joining them shortly.

My beef with the book is this: There is a character referred to many times in the story as a ghost because no-one evers sees him. The author gives him the Italian name "il spettro".

OUCH!!!!

Spettro is correct - our word spectre comes from the same Latin root -  but it would be lo spettro, not il spettro since il (the masculine definite article) becomes lo before an " S impure" and other combinations. Basically a "sp..." sound is an s impure and can NEVER go with il.

We had a very good Italian teacher at our school and she took the trouble to spend virtually a whole  lesson on this, making sure we knew that combinations like il spettro would sound so wrong it sets your teeth on edge. This gaff really set my teeth on edge throughout the book.

I don't know if Lucrezia Grindle speaks Italian. Her first name sounds Italian but the bio says she was born in the US. If she speaks Italian then she speaks it in another universe. If she doesn't then she should have let an Italian read her book before publication and it would have had a big red circle around "il spettro". Even if - and I doubt this happens anywhere - there is some part of Italy where "il spettro" would be the spoken version it shouldn't end up in text that way.

Surely any book about the Italy during the war should have had an Italian eye cast over it anyway? It's now bothering me that the authenticity of the story is somewhat lacking and that's completely spoiling my enjoyment of the story.

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