The volunteer work

The volunteer work

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

I continued my volunteer work at the Biblioteca Sala Borsa (the most beautiful library that I’ve ever seen) with a language program called Scioglilingua (“tongue twister” in Italian). I did this two afternoons a week where I had English conversations with 3 people each time who wanted to improve their English. I also participated several times in Italian conversations with Italian volunteers who helped me improve my Italian. I spoke Italian with 2 or 3 different people but my favorite was Claudio. He helped me a lot and spoke clearly. We really had a good time. One of my other conversation partners in English was a Bologna tour guide who told me about some relatively unknown places to explore.

Gaudio - my Italian conversation partner

Claudio – my Italian conversation partner

Still the Sala Borsa conversations were not enough to fill my time so I found another “job”. Liu’ is the woman at the library responsible for the Scioglilingua program and her sister works for the Comune di Bologna (the city government) in the area of promoting tourism. There are lots of tourist brochures originally written in Italian and with translations into various languages, but especially into English. However the translations were obviously not done by a native speaker. While certainly intelligible, they often sounded strange in translation because of word choices and the fact that the sentence construction is different between Italian and English. One thing that I certainly noted is that we write shorter and, at least to my mind, clearer sentences. I encountered Italian sentences that ran on for 3 or 4 lines, with a colon and a half dozen comas. By the time I got to the end I had forgotten the point of the sentence. So after a while I just pretty much rewrote the whole thing using both the translation, the original Italian, and an on-line dictionary. I also often did web searches about the subject of the brochure to clarify some points and even correct some factual errors that originated in the Italian.

Two of the brochures that I worked on

Two of the brochures that I worked on

It has been a very satisfying work which I hope to continue when I next return. I work with Monica (Liu’s sister) and Margherita. They are both great to work with. I’m not sure about Margherita but Monica, like her sister, speaks almost perfect English. At the end of our last meeting Monica and Margherita gave me some gifts. Luggage tags and pins that are items for promoting Bologna and, more significantly, a bottle of very good grappa.

Mmm - grappa, as well as luggage tags and pins

Mmm – grappa, as well as luggage tags and pins

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