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New Finnish Grammar
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New Finnish Grammar

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,153 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
One night at Trieste in September 1943 a seriously wounded soldier is found on the quay. The doctor, of a newly arrived German hospital ship, Pietri Friari gives the unconscious soldier medical assistance. His new patient has no documents or anything that can identifying him. When he regains consciousness he has lost his memory and cannot even remember what language he spe ...more
Paperback, 187 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Dedalus (first published May 2000)
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Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: italian
How to Write About Translation in a Monolingual Book

This book has a really tremendous idea: a man is badly injured; he can't remember who he is, and he has lost his capacity for language. His doctor decides the man is Finnish, because he has a Finnish name embroidered inside his shirt collar. The doctor is passionately Finnish himself, and some of the book is taken up the doctor's lessons in Finnish language and culture. The patient imagines that the words he is learning have resonance somewhere
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Ένας άντρας που χάνει τη μνήμη και τη γλώσσα του μετά από ένα βαρύ τραυματισμό κατά τη διάρκεια του δεύτερου παγκόσμιου πόλεμου. Ένας ενοχικός Φινλανδός γιατρός που πληρώνει κρίματα που δεν του ανήκουν και βασανίζεται από τη νοσταλγία για τον τόπο του, τον στέλνει στη Φινλανδία πιστεύοντας πως είναι συμπατριώτης του εξαιτίας κάποιων ενδείξεων. Ένας λουθηρανός πάστορας και ταυτόχρονα ένας από τους τελευταίους σαμάνους που προσπαθεί να του διδάξει τη φινλανδική γλώσσα και μέσα από αυτήν τη κουλτού ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
‘You use words nicely, too,’ she said. ‘Now that you know it better, what is it that you most like about our language?’

‘What do I like about it most?’

‘Yes. A word, a phrase …’

‘Well, I know this may strike you as strange, but what I like is the abessive!’ I answered hesitantly.

‘The abessive? But that’s a case, a declension!’ she shot back in amusement.

‘Yes, a declension for things we haven’t got: koskenkorvatta, toivatta, no koskenkorva, no hope, both are declined in the abessive. It’s beaut
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ένας στοχασμός για το πως η γλώσσα, η πατρίδα και η προσωπική ταυτότητα λειτουργούν σαν συγκοινωνούντα δοχεία στην ψυχή ενός ανθρώπου.
Emma Glaisher
Feb 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Didn't actually finish it, so my partner briefed me on the denouement. Good ending to a desperately tedious book. I wanted to like it. I love language, I'm interested in grammar, anyone with amnesia is potentially an interesting story. But... Sorry. I kept losing the will to live.
Aditya Kelekar
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
~~~ Since language is our mother, try and find yourself a woman ~~~


It was on the flight during my first visit to Finland that I had first brush with Finnish, thanks to the announcements in Finn Air. Now what was that? The words that had just been spoken.. some were so long drawn out, some expressed in such a sing-song way, it was amusing to listen to them. Now, more than a year later, and having practiced some basic Finnish phrases, these lines
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italy
It’s taken far too long for this seductive book to be translated into English, and I’m not surprised that it has been shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize almost as soon as it hit the shelves in the English-speaking world. (What other treasures lie in store for us, I wonder, now that at last readers can source the kind of books they like from everywhere, not just limited to what local booksellers think they might like? Publishers are starting to realise that there is a world-wid ...more
James Folan
Mar 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
oh, look. here's a letter from that pretty nurse I met recently in wartime Helsinki after losing my memory:

'Do you remember my tree in Kaivopusto Park? There are many ways of seeing it: you can regard it as a network of lymph vessels, of veins, of roots teeming with sap, linked up to a living nucleus which, through the breathing leaves, establishes and maintains a flow of matter between earth and sky, between inert matter and air. But you can also reduce it to a pure number, make it into a law o
I recently finished a Booker Award finalist, Snowdrops by A. D. Miller. On the surface these two novels would seem to have little in common (other than they both take place in snowy regions), but in fact they're similar in that they both are most of all about place: Finland in this case; Moscow in Miller's novel. Place (as well as the Finnish language in this novel) is the central character and any story line is secondary to the place(s) described. Miller's novel has more narrative pull than thi ...more
Despoina Despoina
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Βάζω 3 όχι γιατί δεν είναι ένα πολύ καλό βιβλίο αλλά γιατί δεν με ενθουσίασε.
Η υπόθεση είναι προβλέψιμη-στις πρώτες 50 σελίδες κατάλαβα περίπου τι πρόκειται να γίνει.
Οι πολύ καλές στιγμές του βιβλίου είναι εκεί που ώρες ώρες γίνεται ένα θαυμάσιο λυρικό ποίημα πάνω στην Φινλανδική γλώσσα. Στα πολύ καλά του βάζω επίσης αυτή την αίσθηση ασφυξίας, ησυχίας, μοναξιάς και μελαγχολίας που κυριαρχεί σε όλο το βιβλίο.
Με κούρασαν τα κομμάτια της μυθολογίας-δεν έφταιγαν αυτά αλλά το δικό μου γούστο που βαρι
This reads more like a man's desperate attempt to make sense of a language, a culture, and a history behind them that is wholly different from his own, than it reads like a novel about an amnesiac man searching for an identity through a new language.

I appreciated the historical accuracy, but can only hope that the mispelled Finnish words are the translator's fault rather than the original author's. As I said in one of my status updates, it's good for linguistic laughs.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
More like a 2.5 ... the prose (even in translation) is very good, but the plot (and plodding climax) never lives up to the intriguing premise. Mainly I was bored and should have abandoned this early on, as I was sorely tempted to do. Might have worked much better as a short story than a bloated 187 pages.
Feb 2014.
[4.5] A powerful little book (under 200 pages), intelligent, emotional and contemplative all at once in a very Continental way, that would have been best read in a few long sittings rather than in countless snippets between watching Olympic events on TV or whilst half asleep.

I've had this for about three years, vacillating: although I very much wanted to read another book about Finland, would an Italian author really give anywhere near so true a sense of the country as a local would?

Skorofido Skorofido
Λύω, λύεις, λύει. Λύομεν, λύετε, λύουσι.
Ουσιαστικό τριτόκλιτο.
Ο πατήρ, του πατρός, τω πατρί, τον πατέρα, ω πάτερ. Οι πατέρες, των πατέρων, τοις πατράσι, τους πατέρας, ω πατέρες!

Αρχαιοελληνική γραμματική. Κι αν δυσκολεύτηκα στο Γυμνάσιο να προσθέσω και πέμπτη πτώση στο λεξιλόγιο μου, φαντάσου τώρα να έχεις να διαχειριστείς δεκαπέντε πτώσεις στην καθημερινότητά σου. Η άχρηστη πληροφορία του βιβλίου: η φινλανδική γλώσσα έχει δεκαπέντε πτώσεις. Αυτός και μόνο ο λόγος αρκεί για να μην περάσω ούτ
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finnish-authors
A few years ago I got into a rather intense discussion along the lines of whether there is any association between the currency used by a country and their population's feeling of national pride and identity. It was prompted by comments from someone in the British government who was arguing vehemently in favour of Britain keeping the pound sterling as its national currency. Part of the politician's argument seemed to be that if Britain adopted the Euro, like other members of the European Communi ...more
Maria Beltrami
Noi siamo la lingua che parliamo? Questo è il tema di questo interessantissimo e insolito romanzo ambientato durante la seconda guerra mondiale, dove un medico cerca di ricostruire quella che lui ritiene essere l'identità di un marinaio gravemente ferito e in preda all'amnesia insegnandogli quella che ritiene essere la sua lingua, il finlandese.
Ma la scintilla del riconoscimento non scatterà, sia perché l'uomo non è finlandese, ma soprattutto perché, quando sarebbe quasi pronto a rinunciare alla
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scandinavian
This was a fast and exiting read, and no knowledge of Finnish was required.
If one ever wondered how language is related to identity, this is a good start to get the thoughts coming. Tragic, yes, but insightful.
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Πολύ ενδιαφέρον θέμα, ίσως σε κάποια σημεία η ίδια η ιδέα ήταν καλύτερη από την εκτέλεση αλλά συνολικά μου άρεσε. Θα ήθελα να νιώσω λίγο καλύτερα την απόγνωση που πρέπει να ένιωθε αυτός ο άνθρωπος αλλά σκέφτομαι πως μπορεί να ήταν ηθελημένα λίγο χλιαρό μιας και είναι γραμμένο από έναν άνθρωπο που δεν κατέχει άριστα την γλώσσα στην οποία γράφει. Γι' αυτή τη σκέψη και το ενδεχόμενο βάζω 4 αντί για 3 αστέρια.
Annabel Smith
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book had many things to recommend it, but ultimately was not for me, which I'm a little disappointed about because it's the first book I chose for the Translation challenge I'm taking part in and I didn't make it to the end. #fail But anyway, I think life's too short to spend it finishing a book you're not enjoying and this was the case for me here.

On a positive note it is very-well written. There is a precision to the writing, and there were many beautiful descriptions of both landscapes a
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's not often that a person of Finnish heritage comes across a novel that bears a title of this sort. So of course, I had to read it. The premise is that a man is found with serious head wounds in Trieste, Italy during WWII. He has no memory and no language, but he is wearing a Finnish sailor's uniform with the name Sampo Karjalainen sewn into it. A doctor on a German troop ship, who was born in Finland, treats him and begins to teach him Finnish, assuming that it is his native language and wil ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
As I was browsing through the fiction section of a bookshop in Dublin, the title of this book leapt off the shelf at me: it was not misclassified but is a novel by an Italian who works as a 'senior linguist' for the European Union. It is set first in Trieste and then in Helsinki during the Second World War and has a simple but brilliant plot. The text consists of three interwoven 'voices': the notebooks of a badly wounded man who has become totally amnesic and aphasic as a result of his injuries ...more
Μια υπέροχη ιδέα με πολλές δυνατότητες, που όμως ο συγγραφέας δεν διαχειρίστηκε ίσως σωστά.
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Τόσο υπέροχο που ενώ το δανείστηκα, τώρα που το διάβασα θα το αγοράσω αμέσως.
Laura Edwards
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it
An interesting idea for a story but overall I found this quite dull
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Μνήμη και γλώσσα ! Φινλανδία ! Κι αυτά τα ονόματα και οι λέξεις με τους παράξενους τονισμούς !
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a book club selection and, totally at random, I had volunteered to present it to the group.

It turns out that it was an amazing and ideal choice for me, as the novel is very much an excuse for the author to meditate on questions of language and how it relates to memory, individual identity, and national identity/culture. I had in mind my own experience of speaking a foreign language daily as I was reading, and I think this author has a great deal of generosity for people like me wh
Ruth Bonetti
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the sort of book that one thinks 'I must reread this to absorb its depths of meaning.' As one keeps turning pages. The insights into language are especially deep for we're talking that most difficult tongue, Finnish. The complexity, the umlauts, cases, declensions... having learned a few basic phrases of Finnish I have a hearty respect for anyone who can not only learn it (as did our hero, the supposed Sampo) but write about it in such a perceptive manner:

'...For us Finns knowledge is a
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: italy
Trieste, 1943: A man is found with his head bashed in, almost dead, severely brain damaged, and completely amnesiac - even his language is completely forgotten. The only clue to his identity is a Finnish navy uniform and a name sewn onto it. He's taken on board a German ambulance ship, where the doctor just happens to be a Finnish expat, who takes it upon himself to save his unfortunate countryman. He starts re-teaching him Finnish, that weird language of dozens of cases and almost no prepositio ...more
A.E. Shaw
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012

I have a feeling that this book will be one to grow on me even more, now I've finished reading it. The first third, I struggled with. I put it aside a few times and picked it up again only because this year I fully intend to finish all the books I start! But then around the halfway point, I found I was quite entranced by the very dense, yet piecemeal prose.

This is easily the best novel I have read in terms of talking about what it is like to learn a language you don't know. It helps, perhaps, th
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Diego Marani works as a senior linguist for the European Union in Brussels.
Every week he writes a column for a Swiss newspaper in Europanto, a language he has invented. He also published a collection of short stories in Europanto, in France.
In Italian he has published six novels, the most recent being l'Amico della Donna.
“Una lingua imparata non è che una maschera, un’identità presa a prestito. La si dovrebbe avvicinare con il dovuto distacco e mai cedere alla lusinga di mimetizzarsi, rinnegando i propri suoni per imitarne altri. Chi si abbandona a questa tentazione rischia di perdere la sua memoria, il suo passato, senza averne in cambio un altro.” 1 likes
“Non avevo capito l'ultima frase. L'avevo guardata uscire dalla sua bocca, ne avevo inseguito brevemente il suono. Poi, senza accorgermene, il mio sguardo si era avventurato nel suo. Allora sentii allentarsi i muscoli del viso. Tutto dentro di me cedeva.” 0 likes
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