Why is reading in your target language important?
Reading and listening are the two best ways to learn your target language. It is only by reading that you can properly familiarise yourself with the most commonly used grammatical structures while building your vocabulary.
When studying a foreign language, you learn how to manage several easy everyday tasks. However, when reading fictions, you are automatically exposed to a wider array of situations. And it will teach you a wider range of words. Thus, you will become fluent in Italian through more stimulating dialogues and circumstances.
“Il Signore degli Anelli” and Tolkien’s magical world
We are sure you are wondering how to choose the best book to start learning in Italian. In this article, you will find an analysis of one of the most popular trilogies. Which is loved by thousands of readers from all around the world.
The protagonist of our analysis is The Lord of The Ring (Il Signore degli Anelli, in Italian, or LOTR hereafter). A magical world created by the supreme mind of J. R. R. Tolkien. These three books are surely huge, and it may take some time to read them. However, they contain several useful words to build your Italian vocabulary.
Of course, several published editions of LOTR can be found in any good bookshop. However, for this article, we have used the Italian edition from Bompiani Editore (2004).
The Grammar you can learn from Lord Of The Rings.
1. Passato Remoto (Historical past tense)
If you are not a native Italian speaker, Passato Remoto is one of the most difficult tenses to learn. However, reading in Italian provides a full exposure to this tense, since it is the most commonly used in Italian narrative and literature.
Passato Remoto is used to describe events that happened a very long time ago. Here are a few examples of Passato Remoto is used in The Lord of the Rings:
“Nessuno rispose. Suonò la campana di mezzogiorno, e nessuno aprì bocca. Frodo lanciò un’occhiata a tutti i visi che gli stavano intorno, ma nessuno era rivolto verso di lui.” (La Compagnia dell’Anello, p.904)
If you want to learn more about how to conjugate Passato Remoto, do not forget to read our article about Italian tenses!
2. Short sentences
Let’s have a look at this:
“Avevano preso il corpo di Frodo. Erano partiti. Mai li avrebbe raggiunti. Eppure Sam non si dava per vinto.” (Le Due Torri, p. 2309)
Several foreign language teachers advocate that if you want to learn a new language, you have to take it one sentence at a time. Tolkien’s writing style is very simple, yet effective. He uses short sentences, often including only the subject and its predicate. Thus, you will soon learn how to use Italian sentence structure and its elements!
The “geek” language behind LOTR
Even if you are an experienced reader, LOTR can be a tough read. Tolkien was a professor of medieval language, and he loved making up idioms. If you are going to approach LOTR thinking it is a mere story about wizards and epic battles, you may be disappointed!
The following is only a list of subjects, words, and terms that you will meet in your journey through the Middle Earth. However, you will definitely not hear that often in real life!
1. Geographical Vocabulary
Middle-earth and its world are very vast. You can easily find a map on the Internet, or even as an appendix of many printed editions of the trilogy.
Although you are not required to learn every region of Tolkien’s world, you will soon notice that several geographical nouns are recurring in every book. Here we have listed the most used ones. They may come in handy when reading every map of the real world!
2. Fantasy nouns and races
The fictional peoples and races that appear in Tolkien’s world are known as Middle-earth peoples (Popoli della Terra di Mezzo, in Italian). Listing all the creatures, spirits and beings that inhabit Middle-earth would be almost impossible. However, the main peoples and races listed in the official appendix of the book are seven. And they are common to every fantasy realm. Thus, after reading LOTR in Italian, you will be able to understand not only other fantasy books but movies, board games and other references to this culture as well!
Grammar tip! Remember that Italian does not have any plural form for nouns that derive from foreign words. Thus, even nouns such as “hobbit” or “troll” do not add any -s to their singular root.
3. Adverbs, Comparatives and “Baroque” nouns
If you are going to read LOTR for the first time, this is how Tolkien is going to welcome you in his literary world:
“Bilbo era estremamente ricco e bizzarro e, da quando sessant’anni prima era sparito di colpo, per ritornare poi inaspettatamente, rappresentava la meraviglia della Contea. Le ricchezze portate dal viaggio erano diventate leggendarie, ed il popolo credeva, benché ormai i vecchi lo neghino, che la collina di Casa Baggins fosse piena di grotte rigurgitanti di tesori.” (La Compagnia dell’Anello, p. 143)
In only five rows, we can count at least four words that you will not find easily in any grammar book! Let’s analyze those words:
Tolkien’s description of the journey that took the Fellowship of the Ring. To defeat Sauron is most likely one of the most accurate in the history of modern literature!
“Imponenti lecci dalla mole massiccia si ergevano scuri e solenni in ampie radure puntellate qua e là da canuti frassini e da querce giganti che incominciavano appena a gettare i primi germogli verdi e marroni. Tutt’intorno, ampie distese d’erba verde, cosparse di anemoni e celidonie bianche e azzurre, ora richiuse per la notte; vaste zone ove s’affollavano le foglie dei giacinti, i cui esili steli già spuntavano dal terriccio.” (Le Due Torri, p. 2190)
“L’esercito bivaccava nel bosco di conifere che tappezzava l’Eilenach, un alto colle che si ergeva fra le lunghe propaggini della Foresta Druadana” (Il Ritorno del Re, p.2590)
5. Armours and Weapons
«Non abbiamo cotte di maglia per la tua statura», disse Éowyn, «né tempo sufficiente per fabbricartene una; ma eccoti comunque un robusto giustacuore in pelle, una cinta e un pugnale. La spada l’hai già».” (Il Ritorno del Re, p. 2502)
6. Adjectives, Nouns and Miscellaneous
Tolkien had quite the vocabulary. Thus, it would be impossible to list all the words which exact definition could seem unclear to modern readers. These are some of the miscellaneous terms that you will not find in your average grammar book! However, it is surely worth learning them, to enhance your vocabulary and impress your Italian friends!
“Gollum avanzava veloce, con testa e collo protesi in avanti, servendosi sovente delle mani oltre che dei piedi.” (Le Due Torri, p. 1957)
“Ad un tratto, mentre parlavano, furono come colpiti da sordità, raggelati e pietrificati.” (Il Ritorno del Re, 2521)
“Dalla carcassa della bestia si levò il Cavaliere Nero, imponente e minaccioso.” (Il Ritorno del Re, p. 2626)
“Giunti alla radura furono sorpresi di vedere guerrieri in brillanti armature ed alte guardie vestite di nero e argento salutarli con deferenza al loro passaggio.” (Il Ritorno del Re, p. 2957)
Finally, you are officially ready to join the Fellowship of the Ring and live your adventure in the Middle-earth!