Wednesday, 31 December 2008


I rate Radio 4's Sunday program quite highly, as a round up of the week's religious/ethical/spiritual news.

I just wanted to reccomend this weeks's special on children in the UK. I'm not sure whether it's on both iPlayer and the podcast, but I found it very interesting.

That is all.

Monday, 29 December 2008


One of my favourites from a little book Mum and Dad got me for Christmas:
The England spinner [Ashley Giles] had just played the best Test series of his career and helped England to beat the West Indies and, as a result, he got the nickname 'King of Spin'. [H]is county Warwickshire decided to put the legend on commemorative mugs that they ordered for his testimonial year ... only for them to arrive with the word 'King of Spain'. He rapidly became known as 'El Gilo' and crowds have been known to sing 'Y Viva Espana' when he came on to bowl.
- A Steroid Hit The Earth: A Celebration of Misprints, Typos and Other Howlers, Martin Toseland.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

sia santificato il tuo nome, #2


'santificare' is a verb from the Latin 'sanctus', meaning 'holy'. We get the word 'saint' from there too. In Italian 'santo' means holy and 'il santo' means 'the holy person' - that is, saint. Because, as far as I know, 'santificare' is a regular verb (and not because you'll find a lot of use for it in everyday life) I'll give you the conjugation:

santificare(to) sanctify, sanctifying
santificoI sanctify
santifichiyou sanctify
santificahe/she/it sanctifies (+ you sanctify)
santifichiamowe sanctify
santificateyou (plural) sanctify
santificanothey sanctify

The regular endings are clearly in bold, but you may have noticed that I added an 'h' in before the endings that start with 'i'. That's because, in Italian 'ci' and 'ce' are both pronounced with the soft 'c' of 'cherry', but we want the pronunciation of the 'c' to stay the same. 'chi' and 'che' are pronounced with the hard 'c' of 'car', so we fix it with an 'h'.

From 'santificare' you get the word 'santificato' which means 'sanctified'. As in English, you can consider this in a couple of ways:

1. Adjective

il nome santificato - the sanctified name
i nomi santificati - the sanctified names

la volontà santificata - the sanctified will
le volontà santificate - the sanctified wills

Again, the adjective form has to agree with the noun, as above.

2. Past Participle

That is to say the form of the verb that you use for forming the perfect (past) tense, as follows:

ho santificato il tuo nome - I have sanctified your name

It's pretty close to the English for most verbs, in that Italian uses the verb '(to) have' for forming the past though it also means '(to) possess' and '(to) own'

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Finished uploading my music.

I've just finished making all the MP3s I intend to available for download:

Just to re-iterate - if anyone at 8 Gordon Road actually does want this web-space, I'll get off it, just let me know. In the meantime - waste not want not. Or possibly the other way round.


Monday, 22 December 2008

More Music

I've just put more music to download on the page. Again, it's here:

sia santificato il tuo nome,

Line 2!



Hmm. Well, this is 'essere' in a subjunctive form. Let's skip to the end and say that it can be translated "(may it) be".

I think that it warrants perhaps a little more explanation, because the subjunctive is used a few times in the prayer, but I suppose you can skip ahead if you're not interested, because it's not really everyday language. The subjunctive just about survives in English. Have a look at these:
Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!
I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he 'live, or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.
If I were you...

He be? I were?

Normally, of course, 'he is', and 'I was', but these are subjunctive forms. In Italian, as in English, the subjunctive is used to express wishes, thoughts and beliefs. The giant says 'be he' because he's supposing, first, the situation that Jack's alive, second, that he's dead, but he doesn't know in either case. The giant has remarkably correct grammar. He could have said "whether he's alive or dead" but that would have ruined the scansion, so it seems that we're dealing with a rather poetic giant. "If I were you" is another conjecture. In fact, the Italians say much the same thing using the subjunctive, "If I were in you", which I suppose means "in your shoes", "in your place".

The normal form of verbs, past present and future, is called the indicative because it indicates. So if I were were to re-write the second line of the Our Father, using the indicative, it would indicate a fact, rather than express a desire. Thus:

'your will is done' - indicative
'your will be done', 'may your will be done' - subjunctive

Saturday, 20 December 2008

My Music

Well, I've finished converting my music to mp3. Now all that's left is a bit of administration really, to let you listen to it. I've decided to put a few tracks on now, and I'll add the rest later. It's here:

If anyone's put out by the fact that I'm using webspace that I'm not paying for, do let me know, but I'd appreciate a bit of time to allow people to download my stuff. I mean, as it's there, and no-one was using it...

Friday, 19 December 2008


I dreamt you were going out with Juliette Lewis. Who's Juliette Lewis?
As it happens, I didn't know who she was either.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

I've lost faith in train station information screens

 I was somewhat worried about the flooding last Saturday, because I was travelling by rail, after a worrying wait at Bristol, I eventually got to Bath, only an hour later than expected.
However getting back home was quite an ordeal, I had been directed to change at Westbury, but for some reason my train (20:30 to Exeter) wasn't listed on the departure screen, although trains before and after were listed. I asked the customer service guy, and he told me to just catch the next train to Exeter. I went to the correct platform, checked the platform's information screen and got on the train. Despite these precautions I ended up travelling towards London and only discovered I was going the wrong way when I was nearly at Reading. I asked the guard what to do, I was directed to the Station Supervisor's Office at Reading (which wasn't labelled as such, took ages to find it) to find out how to get home. Because it was getting quite late, the only train heading in the right direction was a train to Bristol, so I took that train (23:00) and arrived in Bristol at 00:30. There were no further trains leaving Bristol that night, and I assumed no buses either, so I went to the nearest hotel to get a room for the night.

I woke up fairly late (for me at least) had breakfast and explained the situation to the woman at the ticket office, and so didn't have to buy another ticket to get home, however I must have just missed a train to Exeter, because I had to wait another hour before the train arrived. I took a taxi home from the station and got home about noon.

On a more postive note, the Christmas meals with both my Asperger support group and the Devon Wildlife Trust (who I've been doing volunteer work for) were both very enjoyable.

Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli, #3

Should be able to finish off the first line with this one:


'sei' is a part of the verb 'essere', which looks like this in conjugation:

essere(to) be, being
(io) sonoI am
(tu) seiyou are
(lui/lei/Lei) èhe/she/it is (+ you are)
(noi) siamowe are
(voi) sieteyou are (plural)
(loro) sonothey are

The rather odd configuration of line 3 is because Italian has a polite form of address, for people you don't know, the elderly, your boss etc. Basically, to be polite you use the third person, which takes a little getting used to. Here 'lui' means 'he', 'lei' means 'her' and 'Lei' is the polite form for 'you'. In fact, 'lei' without a capital letter can mean the polite form too, as if it wasn't already confusing enough. Incidentally, Mussolini apparently wanted people to stop using the word 'Lei' in this way, because he thought it sounded effeminate, which didn't tie in too well with the whole fascist ethos.

You can see that for 'I am' and 'they are' the same word, 'sono', is used. You probably think that's fine because you've got the words 'io' and 'loro' to distinguish between them, but in fact the words in brackets (subject pronouns if you're interested) aren't used the same way as in English - they're mostly not used. You do use them for emphasis, for example, but you don't actually come across them too often. So with 'sono' you have to work the meaning out from the context.

Ok, so we've got the word 'sei' and you can see that it means 'you are', which could potentially make you scratch your head, seeing as that means that so far we have something like "Our Father, who you are [in heaven]" and that is a funny sort of a translation. It might comfort you to know that it actually corresponds quite well with the more traditional version of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father, who art in heaven", 'thou art' being the old familiar form, which you can see used sometimes in insults*. The more modern translation "Our Father in heaven", I imagine, is a workaround for the fact that "who are in heaven" sounds pretty odd, even though it makes sense linguistically speaking because it's the Father who's addressed. Incidentally, I hope you noticed that we don't use the polite form for God, who's our Father (or Dad, or Abba). We also don't use it for Mary, our mother, or the saints, our brothers.


Ok, this is getting a little long, but I don't want to do another instalment on the first line, so here goes:

a - to
da - from
in - in

On the left, all the Italian prepositions in the Padre Nostro, on the right a simple translation. No need to explain what a preposition actually is I think. I should point out though that the translations are a gross over-simplification because prepositions are one of the most bewilderingly unpredictable parts of most languages. You have only to think of the phrase "What's on telly?" to grasp this.

Not done though. Have a look at this:

+ il+ i+ la+ le

You can see what's going on - if, in Italian, you have an 'in', next to an 'i', you get 'nei', so 'nei cieli' means "in the heavens". It's not really that difficult once you get used to it, although if you saw the list of how all the articles combine with all the relevant prepositions, you might panic.

Lest I forget, I should point out that Italians use the definite article in different places to us, though I don't think it's worth going into detail. Also, as in the Greek original, in Italian, the word for 'sky' and 'heaven' is the same.

* "Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!" - King Lear, "Come and get one in the yarbles, If you have any yarbles, You eunuch jelly thou." - A Clockwork Orange

Monday, 15 December 2008

Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli, #2


Have a look at this:

youril tuo regnoi tuoi regnila tua volontàle tue volontà
ouril nostro panei nostri panila nostra terrale nostre terre

You should recognise the nouns and articles from last time. What we have here is the form in which you'd usually find 'you' and 'our' added in. They're the only two possessive forms in the Padre Nostro - no 'my', 'his', 'her', 'its' or 'their' to worry about.

You can see that the forms "agree" with the nouns, that is the forms vary from masculine to feminine, and singular to plural, but it's not really so hard for the main part. On the other hand, this can get confusing for English speakers. Take the following, for example:

1. il suo nome
2. la sua volontà

1 can mean "his name" as well as "her name", depending on the context. 2 can mean "his will" and "her will", depending on the context. What it is tempting to do is think that 'suo' means 'his', and 'sua' means 'her', but both can mean either. It's the noun that it agrees with, not the person.

Again, 'volontà' hasn't changed in the plural, but from 'le tue' you can see it's feminine plural.

You probably noticed though, that the Padre Nostro doesn't start "Il nostro Padre", as you might expect from the table above. I don't suppose you'll lose any sleep over it, but I'll try and explain anyway. Relations are a special case; generally speaking you ditch the article (mamma mia!), except when it's in the plural (i nostri padri). I don't have a particular explanation for why 'nostro' is after 'Padre' here, but I don't intend to worry too much about it. Most adjectives, in fact, come after the noun in Italian, but let's burn that bridge when we come to it.


'che' basically means 'that' or 'which'. However, it also means 'who' as it does here. There is an Italian word for 'who', but it's out of place here, because this 'who' elaborates on who the Father is. In Italian therefore 'che.'

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Padre nostro, che sei nei cieli,


I read somewhere that a good way to learn a language is to teach it. So I thought I'd walk you through the Lord's Prayer, for the sake of doing something a bit different.

Instead of a guide on pronunciation, have an mp3.


If I err not, these are all the masculine nouns in the Padre Nostro:
il padrei padrithe father(s)
il cieloi cielithe heavens(s)celestial
il nomei nomithe name(s)nominate
il regnoi regnithe kingdom(s)reign
il panei panithe bread(s)
il debitoi debitithe debt(s)debit
il debitorei debitorithe debtor(s)
il malei malithe evil(s)malicious

Ok. Because of the Norman conquest, there're quite a few that you could probably guess the meaning of without me telling you. They come in two main flavours (there are more, but not in the Lord's Prayer), masculine nouns that end with 'o' and masculine nouns that end in 'e'.

To get the plural of both of them you change it into an 'i'.

All these masculine nouns start with a consonant and therefore the definite article ('the') is 'il' in the singular and 'i' in the plural ('il' and 'i' aren't in fact the only definite articles for masculine nouns that start with a consonant, but we don't need to worry about that here).

These are all the feminine nouns:

la tentazionele tentazionithe temptation(s)
la volontàle volontàthe will(s)voluntary
la terrale terrethe earth(s)terrestrial

Again, none of them start with a vowel, which simplifies things. 'terra', which handily ends in an 'a' is easy to spot as a feminine noun, whereas you can see from 'tentazione' that there are feminine nouns that end in 'e' as well as masculine ones. When you learn nouns that end in 'e', you also have to learn whether they're masculine or feminine. What is worth remembering though, is that nouns that end in '-zione', which correpsonds to '-tion' in English, are usually feminine.

The feminine nouns that end in 'a' change to 'e' in the plural, but the nouns that end in 'e' in the singular form become 'i' again. 'volontà' is a bit of a funny one. The nouns that end in 'à' (the accent means that the stress falls on that syllable) don't change their form in the plural.

The definite article for all of these feminine nouns, because they don't start with a vowel again, is 'la' in the singular and 'le' in the plural.

I should think that's probably enough to start with.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Nativity Scene

Have a recursive link (it's recursive because it's a link to facebook, and my blog posts get sent to facebook automatically you see):

Nativity Scene

It's how we put our nativity scene together here, because I like the Italian way of doing it. Very hands on. It'd be a good thing for churches to do I think.

(I'm hoping by posting it I'll get James and Ella to do a really cool one and then I'll get to see it. Shh!)

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Married Priests Again

Okay. Let's try this again.

I said that the married priest seemed to think that those who don't want to abandon the discipline of celibacy for priests think that "familial love [is] incompatible with the vocation of a priest". I (reduntantly) pointed out that obviously the Vatican doesn't think so, or he wouldn't be in circulation.

Trouble is, I think that even if he was talking about incompatability (he may have actually used those words, but I'm not sure) it certainly can't have been what he meant. I imagine (it was a while ago now) that he was thinking more in terms of conflict, or tension. The interviewer asked a question which was something to do with whether married priests were considered second-class priests.

So, like I said last time, first thing I'd look at would be St. Paul:
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. - 1 Cor 7:32-35
I think in fact that this priest has probably over-spiritualised the issue. He was saying that his love for his wife and for his children does not restrict his capacity to love and serve God as a priest, and this is of course true. The way I see it. however, is that it's hardly even a theological question (except in the sense that reality is a matter of theological interest): it's a practical question. Everybody knows that both being a husband and being a father entail everyday duties, concerns and responsibilities that someone who is not a husband, and not a father, does not have. We don't criticise fathers for spending time with their wives and children - we expect it, and so we expect it of married priests too. A priest accepts the task of being a spiritual father to every person in his parish as God is the Father of all mankind. By having a wife and children, I think the parity of the relationship is somewhat obscured. I don't think that married priests are second-class priests, only that for them a particular tension exists that doesn't exist for celibate priests.