Okay, I’ll admit it, or maybe I don’t want to just yet it’s a little embarrassing. I mean it has been five and a half years and all, I should know this stuff, but I don’t.
My Italian sucks!
Well, it doesn’t suck in the big sucky way, but it could be better. Where I get confused is the moment I have to open my mouth and speak Italian.
“Buongiorno.” Okay, that was easy.
“Come stai oggi?” Alright, maybe my Italian doesn’t suck as bad as I think it sucks.
Let’s pretend I’m at the local farmers market conversing with the sausage seller.
“Ciao Pablo! Come stai?” It’s so easy these one-on-one conversations.
“Sto bene. Il solito – the usual?” Pablo is cute and short, and has a super big smile each Monday morning.
“Si, il solito. Mio marito va pazzo per tuo salsiccia.” Now, it’s time to cue the laughter card because I just told the sausage vendor:
“Yes, the usual. My husband goes crazy for your sausage.”
If you don’t have a dirty mind then the above statement will blow right on over your head. I on the other hand was dying inside the moment the words left my mouth.
Pablo looks at me with a wide-eyed grin knowing what I want even before I arrive at his table.
“Senza busta vero?”
What I said:
“Si, no busta. Non mi piace ad avere la plastica a casa e poi fa male per nostro mondo.”
“Yes, no bag. I don’t like to have the plastic at home and then it’s bad for our world.”
What I wanted to say:
“Correct, no bag. I find it unnecessary to have a large collection of plastic bags at home, there is no need for it, plus plastic takes about a billion years to disintegrate thus making it bad for the earth.”
And with the same smile I’ve seen every Monday for the last five and a half years Pablo hands me the sausage without a bag and I smile graciously yet embarrassed, turn on my heel and search out the fruit and vegetable vendor.
Now let’s pretend I’m speaking with the fruit and vegetable vendor:
“Ciao ragazza!” I really hate it that he calls me ragazza – girl. I’ve bought his carrots and figs for years, he should know my name.
“Buongiorno. Mi dai per favore cattru figa. Mi piace molto la figa.”
The fruit vendor is beside himself and nearly crying with shock and laughter. The two elderly women beside me seem to be suffering from some type of cardiac arrest, shock or there’s a new disease around that leaves your mouth hanging open.
What I said:
“Good morning. Can you please give me four vagina’s. I like vagina’s a lot.” Okay so, this is something I said years ago, not recently, but it was said and still today the shock and giggle factor remains the same. I also said four in Gallurese.
So you see, learning a new language is not easy and at the best of times can be a whole lot of embarrassing.
There are still a number of things I screw up on like when to use UN, UNO or UNA – A, One, A.
Let’s try a little excercise and please feel free to correct me in the comment section below. I’ve just looked around my house for the following word list and I hope get them all correct. I’m aiming high!
Una banana – a banana
Un portacenere – an ashtray
Uno libro – one book. I wanted to say A book, would I write un libro?
Una penna – a pen
Una finestra – a window
Un divano – a sofa
Uno frigo – one fridge
Un cafe – a coffee
Una mela – an apple. And if I wanted to say One apple would it be Uno mela? I don’t think so, cue confusion.
Un asino – a donkey
I think this is all too much for 7:30 in the morning. I have system overload and need more coffee but this is the life of an expat in Italy. There are always questions, there will always be questions and I will always admit my mistakes and laugh at myself. It’s the only way to learn a new language.
What linguistic blunders have passed your lips?