2011 Spring Matthew Flocco Temple Rome

La lingua

Let’s talk about the language. It’s been a little less than three weeks now here in Roma (scary). I was never nervous about speaking the language itself, just a little nervous to understand. First of all, let it be known that I think English is an ugly langauge. Ok, that’s harsh. German is ugly. Just kidding, that’s harsh too. One thing I just mean to say is that the Romantic languages just sound better. English and German etc. are cool in their own way, but nothing can beat the sound of Spanish or Italian. Fortunately I’ve had five years of Spanish going into my Italian classes. This was a double-edged sword, as I’m sure it is for many. On the one hand, it made me speak Spanish in Italian class because they’re so similar. On the other, learning a bit of Italian helped my Spanish;; helped my Italian; and actually for some reason made me understand French text messages.

The problem now that I’ve had two semesters of Italian classes, and now that I live in Italy for a while, I get them mixed up. When we all went out to Big Bang (Reggae Bar) the first weekend, I had a conversation in Spitalinglish. It was fine because the girl I was speaking to had been in the program the semester before and also knew all three. Another night we got on the bus on the way to Trestavere, and we saw some Italian students wearing Roma scarves and shirts. The calcio (soccer) game between Lazio (the region) and Roma (the city) had just finished. After speaking to them in broken Italian, I found out they were actually Spanish and had been studying here for a year. That was also relatively easy because we switched back and forth. Many many people know Spanish here.

Here’s the thing about the language, if you’re ever going to study here. Thusfar, people have been very nice if you attempt to speak Italian. Oftentimes, they’ll hear your foreign accent, then switch to English. This way, at least you tried. At this point you can choose to speak in English, as they’ve obliged, or you can say “no grazie, voglio praticare Italiano–No thanks, I want to practice Italian.” They’re also very good at answering questions, and it’s ok to ask them here. If I don’t know what “questo” (this) is, I simply ask how to say it in Italian.

The best thing to do, honestly, is to smile and use the hands. The absolute basics of “grazie, buongiorno, ciao” etc. will get you much farther than you think. I’ve asked some Italians how they know English so well, and they said they just know it from school and watching movies in English.

So now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch Hercules in Italian on Youtube. Ciao!

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