Monday, October 29, 2012
Learning Italian the Lazy way
This isn't a post on a revolutionary way to learn a language. No, it's about being lazy and complacent. I've been in Switaly 6 months now and I speak pathetically little Italian. It's not something I'm proud of. But you see, Italy will be the 3rd language I've taken on learning as an adult and the 5th in my language "repertoire" so I feel my laziness is justified.
To be fair, one of the reasons I speak so pathetically little is because I can otherwise get by. Understanding Italian isn't all that hard since I have French and Spanish as a reference. So most of the time, I get the jist of what's going on. There are times when these references can be false friends. Like the time I saw "tortellini con burro" on the menu. In Spanish, "burro" is donkey. Though I've seen horse on the menu before, I've never seen donkey! In fact, burro is butter and more like the french word "beurre". Nevertheless, I didn't order the tortellini!
It is a little weird to understand what's going on, but to not be able to contribute to the conversation at all I have to admit. But again, because I live in a country with 3 official languages, I get by. A conversation will usually go like this: stranger strikes up a conversation, I try to babble out a few words, they ask me what language I speak. I list them out in order of preference (English, French, German) the rest of the conversation continues in one of the 3, or sometimes all 3 at a time like during my recent surgery. The surgical nurse spoke German, the anasthetist spoke French and my doctor spoke English. Trying to speak 3 languages when you're about to undergo surgery is a challenge I wouldn't recommend!
I feel a bit bad that I'm not able to speak to most of my neighbors other than to ask them how they are and to smile a lot. But I figure I can get away with a lot as long as I'm smiling!