Friday, 13 June 2014

Capisco ma non parlo molto bene

I've been working my way through an Italian grammar book in preparation for our trip to Italy in July. And I am astounded by the inane sentences they use to demonstrate points of grammar. "The goose is white." "The head is a part of the body." "I smell with my nose." "I don't swim in the bathtub." Now there is a useful sentence I'm sure I'll use a lot.

When I was studying Welsh, the nationalist instructor taught us such gems as "On Saturday we burn down the English holiday homes" and "Maggie Thatcher eats children for breakfast."

The problem is that when you learn a few stock phrases and can pronounce them well, people will respond to you in that language and expect you to understand them. If I learned how to say some useful conversational piece, such as Practica la cornamusa a casa? ("Do you practise your bagpipes at home?") with my luck the person would reply with a long paragraph in rapid-fire Italian and I wouldn't catch a word of it. A friend told me her brother learned just enough of each language to be able to say "Yes, I am the airport." He says it cheerfully at all opportunities, and people understand that he does not speak the language and adjust accordingly. I think it's brilliant.

So how do I say "airport" in Italian?

1 comment:

  1. All the way through this we were saying, "Yup, that's right. That's how it is." Then we read the last bit and broke into belly laughs. Brilliant, indeed!