5 nov. 2006

I have this long-term project of developing and maintaining reading knowledge of all major Romance languages. Aside from my native level Spanish reading, I can pretty much follow most texts in French, Portuguese, and Catalan. My Italian is pretty shaky, though. I can get only about 70% of it. I read Il Castello dei destini incrociati recently in Italian (Calvino). If I went slow enough I was able get most of it if I went faster I missed more. With a dictionary and all the time in the world I could have gotten most all of it. Romanian seems a little harder. I could probably only get about 30% of it right now. Occitan is pretty much like Catalan, and Galego is pretty much Portuguese, so I am not worrying about those two. Plus, I can't find anything to read in modern Occitan.

There's a question of the comfort level. For example, I have found myself reading texts in English when I could have just as easily gone to the French. I have read novels in Spanish translation when I could have spent a teeny bit more effort and read them in Catalan.

There is a periphrastic past tense in Catalan with uses the verb "to go" plus the infinitive. Like "Vaig veure" for "I saw." I remember reading a novel in Catalan before I knew anything about the language, and at one moment during my reading a light-bulb going off. "Aha, that a past tense." Suddenly it made sense. Of course I had been trying to make it be a periphrastic future like we have in Spanish and English: "voy a ver" / "I'm going to see." I'm having those little moments in Italian too.