Language Barrier

I was thrilled to find a copy of the International Times lying around today, since I have been remiss in keeping up with the news since I have been away. I was less than thrilled to find that Anheuser Busch has been sold! It’s going to take me some time to deal with that.

Our landlady came up yesterday when I was just getting out of the shower. Because the hill we are on is so steep, she and her husband offered to help us with our luggage again on our way out town. I was tired after a day in Rimini, but was managing to communicate pretty well. She keps saying some phrase that I couldn’t make out, so I had to ask her to say it slowly a bunch of times, each time trying to make out which pronouns were direct or indirect, who the was the subject of the verb, etc.

Each time she would repeat the sentence she would say the beginning and the end very slowly and then fly through the half dozen words that were tripping me up. She called down to her son, Matteo, who takes English in school. He came bounding up the stairs in his underwear, which made me feel better about having answered the door in my bathrobe. She explained to him what she wanted to say, and he turned to me and said “What time do you leave?” For heaven’s sake, I thought to myself, since I was pretty sure I’d already answered that question. Ultimately we worked it out, without young Matteo’s help.

The other majore language issue I keep having is that apparently I never learned numbers. I am absolutely moronic when I try to say them, to the point that I mix up 6 (sei) and seven (sette). The result has been that I, who vowed never to lie about my age, keep accidentally telling people that I am a year younger than I am.

Sometimes I am really astonished that I managed to learn another language at all. I think I’ll learn Italian I thought to myself around age 17. I approached it with the same “Let’s see what happens” attitude with which I thought I think I’ll play bass clarinet! (age 10) and I think I’ll run for PR Chair of BOC! (age 25). The fact that I have been here four times in attempts to speak better is all the more amazing when you consider that I spend almost every waking moment trying not to be wrong. So to come here knowing that I am going to frequently sound like a dummy, and that people are going to ask me questions that I can’t answer, is particularly shocking, considering that I love to be right.

Yesterday we took the bus to Rimini mid-day. We wandered to the beach and laid out. We had been there about an hour when the wind picked up. The message came over the loudspeaker in six languages “Please close all umbrellas!” and we were caught in a sandstorm. Katrina and I decided to take advantage of the choppy water to play in the waves. At one point I was about to get hit in the face with a wave and I let out one of my weird little shouts. Katrina was beside herself laughin, saying I sounded like a Muppet. What surprises me is that in the four weeks we have been here that’s the first time she’s heard me make a crazy noise.

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2 Responses to Language Barrier

  1. heh, I’m all about making weird noises and weird faces.

  2. so you keep telling people that you’re 36 instead of 37? lady.

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