Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Parolo Inglese? Non! Que fachi?

There are many countries where language is not a problem for Laurent or I – the U.S., England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, France. Sure there may be the occasional problem understanding quaint local accents and idioms and often the natives have trouble understanding our mid-Atlantic or Québécois accents – though in the case of the later its mostly done to let you know that you are from a former colony (lost to Britain back in 1763) and therefore your French is inferior to the nasal, English-laced, honking of the average Parisian. But we can get by.

Here in Rome it has become obvious that getting by just won’t do, learning Italian is a must. In the major tourist areas English may be the lingua franca but here in Nomentana it’s Italian. Not that anyone is obnoxious about it – we’re in Italy not France – just that the average person here doesn’t speak English. I do have some vocabulary based on years of listening to opera but the chances of having to scream Ohime and faint into the arms of a fat tenor or husky barihunk (Ohime!) are extremely remote. Laurent has Spanish and there are enough similarities that he can get by for basics. But we are going to be here for four years and frankly Sunday night when we had to explain to the maid upstairs that water from her flower pots was cascading onto our balcony and soaking our guests, basic wasn’t enough.

So starting next Monday (27 agosto – Santa Monica) I will be spending four hours a day, five days a week in a classroom – Laurent will be taking a more intensive course in late September. At the moment we are five in the class – two young girls from Africa, a French chap, an Iranian woman and I. The school, Ciao Italia, has a good reputation and has come recommended by several friends and colleagues. We’ll see how good they are – if they can teach this old dog some new linguistic tricks they are good!

21 agosto – San Pio X Papa


BigAssBelle said...

i AM the ugly american. i am so ashamed. i know only ONE language, alas, though i have attempted french (a study interrupted midway by 4/$1.00 quaaludes) and am presently working on spanish.

good for you. you inspire me to work harder and unfailingly devote 30 minutes daily to my task.

and this . . . i'm still giggling:

listening to opera but the chances of having to scream Ohime and faint into the arms of a fat tenor or husky barihunk (Ohime!) are extremely remote.

OHIME!!!! darling, Ohime! ;-)

RG said...

Talk about total immersion! Good luck man! I'm still studying Spanish on my own because my boyfriend is Puerto Rican and his grasp of the English language is about as good as my Spanish.

Funny, but when he's on his computer studying English and I'm on mine studying Spanish, I wish I was a fly on the wall watching him pronounce words and me doing the same. I have to set up my camcorder some time.

more cowbell said...

hahahaha, on the screaming out operaspeak and fainting onto a tenor! too good!

How exciting! I love learning languages, and miss living in a place where it's not just English. Although it was hard to adjust to coming back to the States in that I felt like I was EAVESDROPPING everywhere I went! It was incredibly distracting to suddenly be able to understand everything, and I was NOT able to tune it out. Over there, I guess our ears were always on the lookout (listenout?) for English, like if you heard it, immediately it's, "Wait! Someone's speaking English!".

You must keep us updated! Good luck!