Foreign Language Friday: Il vicario, cari voi

The purpose of Foreign Language Friday is to encourage language learners to read, share, and discover books in languages other than their native language (in my case, Italian). Feel free to borrow the image above and create your own post. Please stop by and let me know if you do!

I’m currently reading an Italian translation of The Vicar of Nibbleswicke, a short story by Roald Dahl. It was written to benefit the Dyslexia Institute in London, and published posthumously.

Italian Title: Il vicario, cari voi
Original Title: The Vicar of Nibbleswicke
Author: Roald Dahl
Source: my personal library

English: Amazon | Italian: Ultima Books

Synopsis (from Wikipedia):

The Reverend Robert Lee, the new vicar of Nibbleswicke, is suffering from a rare and acutely embarrassing condition: Back-to-Front Dyslexia, a fictional type of dyslexia that causes the sufferer to say the most important word (often being the verb) in a sentence backwards, creating comedic situations. For example, instead of saying knits, he will say stink; god would be dog etc. It affects only his speech, and he doesn’t realize he’s doing it, but the parishioners of Nibbleswicke are shocked and confused by his seemingly outrageous comments. However, a cure is found (walking backwards everywhere for the rest of his life), and the mild-mannered vicar can resume normal service.

The first things I wondered when I purchased Il vicario, cari voi were, how did they even do a translation when the story is based on wordplay, and also, would it go completely over my head? But I shouldn’t have worried, it was all just fine. Some words and names were changed to make the wordplay work. The switched up words were italicized, which made them very easy to spot. That was immensely helpful, because I was reading slowly and pausing to look up words I didn’t know. I didn’t need to be second-guessing myself along the way, worried I’d miss a joke. And just in case, there’s a wordplay guide in the back that explains some of the more subtle humor.

I would say the reading level for this one is around “early intermediate” Italian. I was looking up far fewer words per page than I did when reading Susanna Tamaro’s Il grande albero. Also, it is downright exciting when you find yourself picking up on humor in a non-native language; this clever and funny short story is a great boost to a language learner’s ego!

I loved the vicar’s personality and admired his perseverance. From learning to read and write to being in charge of his very own parish, the vicar kept pressing forward with determination. Such a great message for both children and adults, wrapped up in the quirky (and sometimes a bit crass) wit of Roald Dahl.