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Pat Sloane wrote:

> Don't forget Dante is writing in medieval Italian, which might be no
> closer to modern Italian than, say, Shakespeare's English is to modern
> English. It's too bad Umberto Rossi doesn't seem to be on the list
> anymore, as he'd studied Dante and was a native speaker of Italian. 

About a year and a half ago at the TSE Society meeting in Gloucester I
asked this very question of one of the paper presenters, a professor
from Italy, a man whose name now escapes me (I'm betting that Marcia is
the first of the TSE list members who were there to come up with the
name.)

My question was that I knew Dante's 1200 Italian was closer to modern
Italian than Chaucher's 1200 English is to modern English but was it
closer than Shakespeare's 1600 English.  He said yes.  Italian students
of Dante do not have much trouble with the language or grammar although
there are problems with some terms (I would guess on a parr with
Shakespeare's "collier" for example.) Also there was trouble with some
of the allusions and history. 

When in high school I did pretty good with reading Spanish but when we
got a story (not really literature) written by a contemporary of
Cervantes it was tough.  And this doesn't really say too much, but when
I try to read Dante's Italian (decipher might be a better word) I don't
seem to have **unexpected** problems. 

Regards,
   Rick Parker