Sunday, July 1, 2007


For some time now I have held the belief that what you learn or take away from something or someone is not actually what was meant to be transmitted, but a sort of sub-text or meta-event. In this connection, I recently questioned the popular and alquanto valido (see Tim Parks) Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini for not using the subjunctive in a dependent clause introduced by the verb pensare (to think, which obviously implies uncertainty or opinion).

Apriti cielo! Beppe came down snippily on the impudent straniera (well, half-straniera). You can follow this curious saga on his regular column called Italians, which can be accessed in the latter half of the home page of the Corriere della Sera, postings around June 20th (shouldn't I be providing the link to you? Maybe later.)

Giuseppe (of which Beppe is a nickname), unlike his compatriot Galileo, refused to recant, even in the face of his fellow Italians publicly imploring him to safeguard the Italian language. He asserts that he admits it when he's wrong- it's just that he happens not to be wrong.

The sub-text. Confirmation of the Eternal Italian Male nature. I Have To Be Right. Also confirmation of the Eternal Female, in that one of the motivations of starting this (quasi-) new blog was I Must Have The Last Word. In the inset, the author is seen to hold forth with great conviction, rendering the use of the subjunctive unnecessary.