Monday, 12 August 2013

Review: Learn New Testament Greek by J.H. Dobson, 2nd edition + Some Advice on Learning Vocabulary

It will have been around 2005 that I saw this book in the Exeter branch of SPCK and thought it
seemed worth a shot. In 2013, an engagement, change of country, marriage fluency in Italian and child later, I've finally finished the last of its 52 chapters. This is not the envisaged duration ("If you do 2 lessons a day 6 days a week, you will complete the course in 1 month"), but I did get rather distracted... Anyway, this is a little piece of history so far as I'm concerned, and given the very - 'hem - interesting experience I've had using this book and the very polarised reviews of it that I found online, I decided I wanted to do my own.

The premise

"The Learn New Testament Greek course [...] takes full account of modern research into the way people learn."
  • concentrates on vocabulary and forms common in the NT
  • enables you to begin reading the NT itself after just a few lessons
"By the end of the course you will be able to read much of the New Testament without constant reference to a dictionary."
"You will not be asked to memorize long lists of words, or grammatical forms."
"[You will be equipped] to tackle even unfamiliar passages of the New Testament with confidence."

Sounds rather good doesn't it?

My experience

Well, from what I recall of my first attempt (I think I had perhaps 5 goes in all), the best part was the beginning. A whole new alphabet is introduced relatively painlessly. A tape which accompanies the first few lessons really helps the pronunciation stick on your mind - in itself, a great aid to memory.

A simple, but very effective technique employed is that of continuous translation exercises. A column of Greek on the left with a column of English translation on the right. You cover the English, and have a go at translating it. I read that this Dobson chap's approach (according to the aforesaid "modern research") is the inductive method, where the idea basically seems to be to stretch students from the off by not giving them quite all the information they need and forcing them to do intelligent guesswork, so that they make grammatical connections themselves. However, the intro assures you that you shouldn't worry if you don't get something, you just note it, revise earlier lessons and do the lesson again.

Lesson two walks you through John 1:1. You know it's not a lot of material, but it is already the Bible, and just knowing that you can read one verse of actual scripture means a lot.

Most chapters contain a short vocabulary, which you need for the exercises but you've been told that you won't be asked to memorize long lists of words, but that information "is frequently repeated, which makes it easy to remember". On the other hand, the intro instructs you to write new words on flashcards (I think it means), carry them with you "for a few days" and review them in "spare moments".

I found the material interesting, and I found working through the exercises rewarding. When you get to chapter 17 and you're told to have a pop at 1 John 1:5-7, that's quite satisfying. I think the longest passage, near the end was two whole chapters of something.

A rather strange characteristic of the book is that it avoids grammatical terms insofar as possible, but mostly at the beginning. At a certain point there's a big switch and you find yourself adrift in a sea of second person singular aorist indicative passives, wondering if perhaps it wouldn't have been better to do all this terminology stuff one step at a time...


At a certain point, I began to lose confidence in the adequacy of the system of repetition. I began to find the number of words I was forgetting frustrating. The intro suggested underlining or highlighting things I found difficult but... how would that actually help? Perhaps it would help me if I repeated the lesson, but I wasn't sure. I repeated some lessons, like the book said, but it didn't seem to help much, and it seemed silly to carry on repeating it when the method "takes full account of modern research into the way people learn", so I decided I would press on.

Still later, I decided I would do best to ignore the book's implicit advice and use a proper system (spaced repetition using software) to memorize the material properly. That helped a great deal, but it takes some effort to formulate the information, and by the time I realized that I needed to do it, I had a frustrating backlog of half-memorized vocabulary to work through and type up. I felt a bit cheated. But since I had been specifically told that I wasn't meant to try and memorize long lists of grammatical forms, I stuck to the short vocabularies: besides, the effort of arranging the other material into a usable format seemed rather prohibitive, so I left the nearly 24 forms of ὁς to one side and hoped for the best.

What I also started to realize was that Dobson was only showing me certain forms of things. The vocabularies and explanations implied the existence of other forms which we were not covering. Now, I can deal with that: obviously Dobson is concentrating on forms which help me understand to other forms, and the idea is that I fill in the gaps by making intelligent connections myself. However, the uncertainty is oppressive. One reviewer described the book as being like a long joke with no punch line. I'd say that was rather harsh but I do know precisely where he's coming from. Even after having finished the book, I know that there are plenty of gaps in my knowledge, but so successfully is the mechanism hidden that I don't even know what to look for.

The realisation that I wasn't retaining the vocab like I needed to made me temporaily abandon the book two times, I think. It was a big deal for me.

SRS Geekery (but it's useful, honest)

One particular bugbear of mine was the formal presentation of prepositions. Plenty had already been introduced gradually through the vocabularies, but quite near the end, there's an attempt to put it all together. As far as I'm concerned, it's pretty cack-handed. Instead of trying to adapt the material in the book for learning, I found it easier to use another book entirely. To explain why, have a look at this (There's a summary at the bottom: see 1-4, 9, 11):

Twenty rules of formulating knowledge

It's an article I only found recently, but I wish I'd found it sooner because I think it would have saved me a lot of grief. In hindsight, I find it makes an awful lot of sense, and if you plan on using spaced repetition software, I'd say that you should definitely read it. I'd say that the section on prepositions is the most extreme example of how the presentation of information inhibits learning in the book generally, and that it breaks all of the "rules" I pointed out above.

Take επι: Wenham's Elements of New Testament Greek tells me that the basic meaning for all cases (accusative, genitive, dative) is "in". That's pretty basic, and it leaves a lot to account for, but at least I know where I stand. (3)

In chapter 37, Dobson gives me 6 synonyms for the accusative case. An explanatory section follows which uses different terms in a different order.
In chapter 39, 5 for the genitive. The explanation gives different terms in a different order.
In chapter 42, 7 for the dative. The explanation gives different terms in a different order. At this juncture, the text helpfully points out that επι has "an extremely wide range of meanings". Well, duh. At least I can try and memorize the different cases separately, but those 7 synonyms for the dative? That's hellish. (9 - "It is nearly impossible to memorize sets containing more than five members..."!)

In every chapter, the initial list contains synonyms which are impossible to understand without context, since prepositions are used in myriads of ways in English too. (1-2) The repeated, spaced out listings of επι with different translations can only add to a general sense of confusion. (11)

General complaints

Index: either I'm mental, or a number of the page references are just wrong. Given that the material is splurged rather unpredictably throughout the book, that's pretty annoying.

Reference section: I've finished the course. It contained 3 noun paradigms, which it said I didn't need to actively learn. I now realise that it would have been a hell of a lot easier if I had. To add insult to injury, the reference "summary of types of noun" lists twenty of the buggers, with no explanation of why these twenty were selected. Are they regular, irregular, common, rare? What the hell am I meant to make of it? Same with the adjectives. The reference section contains new vocabulary. That's hardly a reference then, is it?! Is it worth learning?

This Dobson is an M.A. (Oxon) and B.D. (London), but he had me scratching my head in the wrong way at quite a few points. To take one example: "We should not translate βαπτισμα μετανοιας as 'a baptism of repentance' (AV, RSV, NJB, NIV) since baptism is not something that can be baptized." But... what kind of cretin would think that was the meaning of "baptism of repentance"?

In summary

It's rather difficult to work out how I feel about this book. On the whole I like it, and found it engaging, but I've found it to be beset with flaws which seem so pointless, which seem to render the whole course so needlessly arduous. Reading that back, I seem to have drawn up a paradox. The thing is, I would definitely recommend this book, but through gritted teeth, exhorting you warmly to read the article I linked to and save yourself frustration by not relying on Dobson's approach, but on another way of memorizing information. I like spaced repetition (see my post on Mnemosyne below), but it doesn't seem to be everybody's cup of tea.

I think the book is a great way into New Testament Greek, but unfortunately its claims seem to me to be rather exaggerated. Confidently read much of the New Testament without constant reference to a dictionary? Still a way off I think. I plan to fill in the gaps with Elements of New Testament Greek. It looks less friendly, but it has the benefit of laying it's cards on the table: learn this stuff, even if it seems overwhelming, and you will have a sound foundation for reading the New Testament.
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Thursday, 30 May 2013

That I might see!

 From today’s Daily Gospel:

"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways" (Is 2:3). Yearnings, strivings, longings, thoughts and affections, and all that is within me, come and let us go up to the mountain or place where the Lord both sees and is seen! But worries and anxieties, concerns and toils, and all the sufferings involved in my enslaved condition, all of you must stay here... while we hasten up the mountain; so that, when we have worshiped (cf. Gn 22:5), we may come back to you. For we shall come back, and that unfortunately, all too soon.

"Lord God of hosts, restore us; show us your face, and we shall be saved" (Ps 80:20). But alas, O Lord, alas! To want to see God when one is unclean in heart is surely quite outrageous, rash and presumptuous, and altogether out of order and against the rule of the word of truth and of your wisdom! Yet you are he who is supremely good, goodness itself, the life of our heart and light of our inward eyes. For your goodness' sake, have mercy on us, Lord.

For the beholding of your goodness is of itself my cleansing, my confidence, my holiness. You have your own way, my Lord God, of saying to my soul: "I am your salvation" (Ps 35:3). Wherefore, Rabboni, Master supreme, you who alone can teach me how to see the things that I desire to see, say to your blind beggar: "What do you want me to do for you?” And you know, since it happens only by your gift... you know how my heart then says to you: "My face has sought you: your face then will I seek. Do not turn your face from me”  (cf. Ps 27:8-9).

William of Saint-Thierry (c.1085-1148), Benedictine, then a Cistercian monk.
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Friday, 12 April 2013

#twitterangelus in original κοινή/latina

Detail of the Annunciation
Detail of the Annunciation (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Just for fun, you understand.

♪ ♪ ♪ [Ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι] τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ † καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος. #twitterangelus #grcla
Ἀμήν. #twitterangelus † #twitterangelus #grcla

● Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ, #twitterangelus #grcla
et concepit de Spiritu Sancto. #twitterangelus #grcla
●¹ Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ. #twitterangelus #grcla
●¹ Εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν, καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου[, Ἰησοῦ]. #twitterangelus #grcla
¹ Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen. #twitterangelus #grcla

Ἰδοὺ ἡ δούλη κυρίου· #twitterangelus #grcla
γένοιτό μοι κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου. #twitterangelus #grcla
●² Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ. #twitterangelus #grcla
●² Εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν, καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου[, Ἰησοῦ]. #twitterangelus #grcla
² Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen. #twitterangelus #grcla

Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο #inginocchio #twitterangelus #grcla
καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν. #twitterangelus #grcla
●³ Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ. #twitterangelus #grcla
●³ Εὐλογημένη σὺ ἐν γυναιξίν, καὶ εὐλογημένος ὁ καρπὸς τῆς κοιλίας σου[, Ἰησοῦ]. #twitterangelus #grcla
³ Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen. #twitterangelus #grcla

I remembered, after my initial stab at this, that the trinitarian formula is biblical, so I put it in. However, when I looked at the Greek, I noticed that the preposition isn’t ἐν (in, inside, within, among), but ἐις (into). I’m still – definitely – learning Greek, so I wasn’t sure, but I reckoned I probably needed to modify it for liturgical use. In Matthew 28:19, baptising into the name might make sense  – we are baptised into the body (1 Cor 12:13) and our baptism clothes us with Christ, making us sons of God (Gal 3:26–27) – but praying ‘into the name’ of the Trinity? Strikes me as pretty fishy.

I had a vague idea I’d heard about baptising “into the name” of the Trinity before, probably Fr. Barron, but to make sure I wasn’t barking up the wrong tree I had a look at various translations of Mt 28:19. Apparently it was the right tree after all, since some of the fruitier versions had baptising “into the name of”.

Somewhere among the many free reference materials you can get on the web these days I found a “word study” if I remember rightly, which told me that you could find “ἐν the name” in Acts 10:48 and that it did indeed have a different meaning/nuance/something. Consequently, I’ve whacked that in there, hoping I haven’t, in my ignorance, made a hash of things.

So there you are.

Related articles
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Monday, 4 February 2013

Angelus: Adjectives + Imperative – Ave, o Maria…

The (Twitter-friendly) text of the Angelus in Italian.
A (hasty) recording of the Angelus in Italian.


Well, no mystery here: it's ave in much the same way as the Latin, "hail". I looked it up in Treccani just to be sure that it didn't have some kind of hidden significance, but apparently not: "used [...] as a form of greeting and well-wishing"


Again, nothing complicated here, except for the fact that it's a homograph for the Italian word for "or". The same as "O" before a name in English; an archaic way of signalling the vocative, O reader.


These are the adjectives in the Angelus:

pieno - full
santo - holy (saint)
degno - worthy (dignity)
eterno - eternal
perpetuo - perpetual

(mio - my)
tuo - your
suo - his/her/its
nostro - our
(vostro - your [plural])
(loro - their)

benedetto - blessed (benediction)
fatto - done, made

I didn't write specifically on adjectives last time, but this mostly covers it. This time I added in the remaining possessive forms.

The last two adjectives are based on verbs, as with santificato here. From the Latin benedicere (bene 'well' + dicere 'say'), to bless, comes benedire in Italian. Dire remains the Italian verb meaning 'to say', and its irregular past participle is detto. The irregular past participle of fare (to do/make) is fatto.
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Friday, 1 February 2013


I suppose there’s an outside possibility that you won’t find this very interesting, but I’ve found some new spaced repetition software! Woo!

I was using MemoryLifter for a long time, and I like knowing the methodology involved, but the software had a couple of disadvantages: I could only use it at home (difficult with toddler), and there was no way of using it to learn various things together or apart e.g. you either lump Greek and Italian vocab together or manually switch between different ‘learning modules’ – way too clunky.

With Mnemosyne, on the other hand, you can install it on a USB stick and use it wherever the hell you want, and though you would put everything in one ‘module’, it lets you tag your subjects, so when I’m working I can use it only for work-related things, and on breaks or between jobs whatever I like.

Not sure how I feel about the algorithm, but I shall see how it goes. I feel another attempt at learning New Testament Greek coming on! I believe I shall also use the services of, which I wish I’d known existed before.
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Thursday, 24 January 2013

Things, you know, and stuff.

It's about time I did a non-themed, what's-happening-in-my-life type, blog entry. Trouble is, every time I think about writing such a thing I start to feel a bit overwhelmed. I'm not even going to try to blog about Christmas. Life is very bitty right now.

Ho hum.

We need to organise our house; after Christmas we have toys for Noemi coming out of our ears and we really need furniture but without a car it's hard for us to get anything decent. Then Monica is having some health troubles; perhaps she's allergic to milk protein. This means tests. We've been quite lucky with the snow so far; let's hope that lasts! It came down for a few days but now the rain's washed pretty much all of it away.

Nice to be getting back into the swing of choir. Yesterday was a bit too much hard work though; lots of things the tenors (including) were having issues getting to grips with and irritated sopranos taking it upon themselves to intervene.

Work is somewhat slow. I'm sure it won't last, so I'm just trying to relax and enjoy it. It means that when translations do come in, there's a good chance of me doing them rather than reviewing them (yuk) and it's let me get back into trying to learn to touch type. I had a long break because my Outlook reminders stopped working and I don't have much of a memory. Also bad for my prayer life. Go Mark! Anyway, I'm still bloody slow at touch typing, but I suppose if I keep on practising I'll get to a point where I can switch at some point.

We had a big meeting at work recently. All our meetings are big because we have them once in a blue moon (every death of a Pope, they say in Italian). Anyway, it went on for ages and I had to interpret, which I'm crap at, for the English-speakers, so it really got me down, but on the plus side they're trying to address some of our more glaring problems and at least talking about dialogue.

I've decided that I'd like to get a Kobo, but we can't afford it. They're in cahoots with Mondadori, a major Italian publisher, which apparently means 30,000 free titles, but there must be a catch. Maybe if I get money for my birthday in May I can think about it then. Our library has joined this thing, which Lauren says you have in England as well, which sounds pretty handy. The most awesomest part of it as far as I'm concerned are the integrated monolingual and bilingual dictionaries and the possibility of reading those documents that you can get for free on the web but would rather gouge out your eyes than read on a monitor, like, in my case, copyright-expired book, encyclicals, political speeches etc.

 Ok, ramble and out.

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Thursday, 17 January 2013

Angelus: Feminine Nouns + Pronouns – ed ella concepì per opera…

The (Twitter-friendly) text of the Angelus in Italian.
A (hasty) recording of the Angelus in Italian.


ed is a modified form of e, so it just means "and" again. It's called the 'd eufonica'; it's euphonic in that it avoids a cacophonic repetition of the vowel 'e' together with ella.

This can also happen with the preposition a–ad (to) or o–od (or).


This is another case of literary/formal language. I conjugated essere with its subject pronouns last time (here). Now we can expand it a little with some literary forms, which I've put in green.

essere(to) be, being
iosonoI am
tuseiyou are
lui/egli, lei/ella, Leièhe/she/it is (+ you are)
noisiamowe are
voisieteyou are (plural)
loro, essi, essesonothey are

Egli and ella are simple enough; they're direct literary equivalents for "he" and "she". The distinction for "they" is to do with gender and agreement, which I discussed here, but without touching on the relevant aspect. essi is the masculine form, and esse the feminine; this is simple enough since it corresponds to the normal endings of nouns, but with plurals it's a bit more complicated. What happens when you're dealing with a mix of masculine and feminine? The answer is simple, if arbitrary, you use the masculine form. In effect, you would only see esse when talking about a group comprising exclusively women. In the following, for example, the prayer is for all the dead, men and women:

splenda ad essi la Luce Perpetua
may-it-shine to them the Light Perpetual

Here we're talking about forms which you wouldn't tend to use every day, but the same rule applies in regular Italian:

sono benedetto – I am blessed (male speaker)
sono benedetta – I am blessed (female speaker)
sono benedetti – they are blessed (men or mixed group)
sono benedetti – they are blessed (women)


These are the feminine nouns in the Angelus:

la graziale graziethe grace(s)
la donnale donnethe woman/women
la madrele madrithe mother(s)
la mortele mortithe death(s)mortal
la servale servethe female servant(s)
la parolale parolethe word(s)
la carnele carnithe flesh, meatcarnal
la promessale promessethe promise(s)
la passionele passionithe passion(s)
la crocele crocithe cross(es)crucifix
la gloriale gloriethe glory/glories
la risurrezionele risurrezionithe resurrection(s)
la lucele lucithe light(s)lucid
la pacele pacithe peace(s)pacifist
(la peccatrice)(le peccatrici)(the female sinner(s))im-peccable
l'operale operethe work, action, meansoperation
l'orale orethe hour(s)
l'incarnazionele incarnazionithe incarnation(s)

You can see what I wrote on nouns, both masculine and feminine, last time here. Take a look before carrying on. Here there are more things to take into account.

Again, there are feminine nouns that begin with a vowel: opera, ora and incarnazione. As with the masculine nouns, the normal article "la" becomes an "l" with apostrophe. The plural, however, remains "le" in all cases.

With many words, there is a masculine and a feminine version. This can be quite simple, as in the case of "servant" – il servo (male) and la serva (female) – or slightly more complicated. I added peccatrice, which isn't in the Angelus, by way of illustration. You may remember that I listed il peccatore as "sinner" among the masculine nouns.

prega per noi peccatori
pray for us sinners

Here, as I was saying above, the masculine form is used to cover both sexes, but if, in a fit of philogyny, I were to pray for women only, it would have been peccatrici.

The -trix suffix isn't widely used in English, but it reflects the pair of -tore and -trice in Italian:

executor - executrix
genitor - genitrix
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Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Bible Tweets: 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ness1 ti chiamerà più Abbandonata, ma sarai chiamata Mia Gioia. Come gioisce lo sposo per la sposa, così il tuo Dio gioirà per te. Is 62,4–5

Cantate al Signore, uomini di tt la terra. Annunciate di giorno in giorno la sua salvezza, in mezzo alle genti la sua gloria Sal 96(95),1–3

Gioiscano i cieli, esulti la terra, risuoni il mare; sia in festa la campagna e gli alberi davanti al Signore che viene. Sal 96(95),11–13

1 solo è lo Spirito e 1 solo è Dio, che opera tutto in tutti. A ognuno è data 1 manifestazione dello Spirito × il bene comune. 1Cor 12,4.6–7

La madre di Gesù gli disse: "Non hanno vino": l'acqua che fece diventare vino fu l'inizio dei segni compiuti da Gesù. Gv 2,3.9.11

Friday, 11 January 2013

Angelus: Regular Verbs + Passato Remoto – L'angelo del Signore portò…

The (Twitter-friendly) text of the Angelus in Italian.
A (hasty) recording of the Angelus in Italian.

These two lines feature some regular verbs. I illustrated regular verbs here, and you should read this about the polite form.

Here's a recap using verbs from the Angelus instead:

bring, takeinfuse, instilconceivebringing, infusing, conceiving
present indicative
portoinfondoconcepiscoI bring, infuse, conceive
portiinfondiconcepisciyou bring, infuse, conceive
portainfondeconcepiscehe/she/it brings, infuses, conceives (you bring etc.)
portiamoinfondiamoconcepiamowe bring, infuse, conceive
portateinfondeteconcepiteyou (plural) bring, infuse, conceive
portanoinfondonoconcepisconothey bring, infuse, conceive
passato remoto (remote past, simple past)
portòinfuse concepìhe brought, infused, conceived

In fact, not all these verbs are perfectly regular, but they are regular in the present indicative – that will do for us.

I’ve put the regular endings in bold. In fact, there are two regular forms for -ire verbs. Last time I put the version which was more similar to the -are and -ire forms, to make it simpler, but in fact, these endings are more common.

Now, I'm going through the Angelus in order, so I'm touching on a few things in an order that you wouldn't usually adopt in learning. The Padre Nostro doesn't use any kind of past tense. The Angelus, on the other hand uses a form of the past tense that you're unlikely to cover in a beginners' course. Shouldn't I just gloss over it then? Well, no, I don't think so. Not just because it's in the Angelus either. It's used extensively in written Italian: if you read any Italian, you're pretty much bound to find it. So it pays to recognise it when you see it.

But instead of hitting you with a complete verb conjugation, I've just added the third person at the bottom, since that's the form you're most likely to encounter (and the only form in the Angelus too). In -are and -ire you can see that they both end with an accented vowel, which should help you to spot it. This is only slightly confused by the fact that the future can end with an accented vowel too: but in that case there would be an r first (e.g. porterò, porterai, porterà).

I already said that infondere wasn't perfectly regular, so it has its own peculiar form as you can see. The really important one to remember in any case is -are, -ò since this conjugation accounts for the majority of Italian verbs. The regular endings (for some reason there are two) for -ere verbs would be -ette and -é, though many -ere verbs are irregular anyway.
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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Angelus: Prepositions with Articles – Nel nome del Padre…

nel, del, dello

To see what's going on in this first line, we also need to look at how prepositions combine with articles. What I wrote on this last time is here.

The Angelus is longer than the Padre Nostro. It also contains more prepositions. Have a look:

a - to
da - from
in - in
di - of
su - on
per - for, by means of
con - with
fra - between, among, from

Those are only the basic meanings; the functions of prepositions tend to vary wildly according to circumstance, so it would be a fool's errand to attempt to cover all the possibilities here. One to watch out for in the Angelus, however, is per, which can mean "by means of", as in:

per opera dello Spirito
by [the] work of-the Spirit

per la sua passione e la sua croce
through (the) his passion and (the) his cross

Whereas su doesn't actually appear in the Angleus; I added it so that the table I'm about to give you is complete. Last time, for the Padre Nostro, there were less prepositions, and we didn't have all the articles, so the table of prepositions combining with articles didn't need to be so big. This time you can see the whole thing:

+ il+ l'+ lo+ i+ gli+ la+ l'+ le


e means "and", of course, same as it did last time. And that's the first line covered already.
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Friday, 4 January 2013

Angelus: Masculine Nouns – Nel nome del Padre…

 Some time ago I took a look at the Lord's Prayer in Italian, from first principles. So when someone on Twitter was asking for “suggestions on how to learn a smattering of Italian” I thought I’d point them there.

Then I thought I might as well revisit it with the Angelus, since I actually tweet it pretty regularly and it might be more useful. I don’t feel the need to repeat everything that I already blogged, but I thought I could do it as a kind of, well, revision. There are probably a few things I might go into in further detail, but not so many. So here we go again.

These are the masculine nouns in the Angelus:

il nomei nomithe name(s)nominate
il padrei padrithe father(s)
il figlioi figlithe son(s)filial
il signorei signorithe lord, Mr., man
il fruttoi fruttithe fruit(s)
il senoi senithe breast, womb
il diogli deithe god(s)deity
il peccatorei peccatorithe sinner(s)im-peccable
il verboi verbithe word(s)verbal
il principioi principithe beginning, principle
il secoloi secolithe century (pl. ages, years)
il riposoi riposithe rest(s)repose
l'angelogli angelithe angel(s)
l'annunciogli annuncithe announcement, notice
lo spiritogli spiritithe spirit(s)

You can see what I wrote on nouns, both masculine and feminine, last time here. Take a look before carrying on. Here there are more things to take into account.

Firstly there are some nouns which end in -io, figlio and principio. Instead of ending with a double "i", they sort of fuse into one. This isn't always the case, but I think I’m right in saying that it normally is, so let’s leave it at that.

Then there are the masculine nouns that begin with a vowel, angelo and annuncio. In a similar way to "a" and "an" in English, the "il" becomes an "l" with apostrophe. In the plural, this becomes "gli" instead of the normal "i".

The article for spirito is different too. Masculine nouns that begin in a certain way, especially z-, st- or sp-, have a third form of the article, "lo". In these cases too, the plural is "gli".

I think that’s enough to start with; there were more things that needed elaborating than I thought.
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