Monday, November 22, 2010

This is an SOS to the multilingual world

I'm rarely at a loss for words.  Not a day goes by where I don't have something completely irrelevant to say.

Until I moved to Italy.

I find myself stricken and at a complete crossroads on a daily basis.

"Do I just stand here and look dumb?  Or do I try really hard to say something in Italian, get it wrong, and look dumb?  Or do I speak English to them and look dumb?  I look so dumb!!!!!"

This is basically the thought process that courses through my synapses, which slowly putter out and disintegrate into minuscule pieces that fall out of my left ear.  I usually end up with a weak... "Uh, non ho capito.  I do not understand."  And they either roll their eyes and fire off rapid Italian at me, which is totally efficient, or they smile and say "Ok, ok."

No matter how they react, though, I always feel SO ridiculous.  Why am I not learning this faster?

And that's not even the problem.  I know Italian pretty well, but when it's just fired at me, I lose my mind and can't remember anything.  I can sit in the car saying "Quando arrivo a casa, non faccio NIENTE!"* and smile really big and it's great and everything's perfect.   But if someone asked me two minutes later, "Quando si arriva alla casa, che cosa fate?"** My right eye would twitch, my tongue would dry up, and I would say more "uh's" in a 30 second time span than you could ever believe possible.

Why is this?  What is so wrong with me that I can't speak a word of this language to actual Italians?

Someone help me.  I'm losing it.

*  This means:  "When I arrive at the house, I'm not going to do ANYTHING!"
** This means:  "When you arrive at the house, what will you do?"


  1. When I went to Mexico, I knew some Spanish, but I just froze up and couldn't remember ANY of it any time someone spoke to me! Thankfully, I didn't need to speak in Spanish, since most places we went were very tourist-y and everyone could speak some English. But it was still frustrating, because I wanted to be able to communicate!

    I'm just jealous that you get to be there and listen to all of the Italian! Once I master Spanish (haha...) I'm going to learn Italian and then go to Italy. : )

  2. :) I'm glad I'm not the only one!!!

    Haha, I love Italian. It's beautiful! I just wish I could actually... speak it... :P But I'm telling you, your Spanish will get so mixed up with your Italian! It happened (and still happens) to me all the time.

  3. Yeah... they are really similar... although maybe that will help me learn Italian. But I guess it will be super confusing, too. :P So you know Spanish?

  4. Only a little Spanish... :) My Italian is taking over.


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