Tuesday, September 12, 2006

lingua italiana

Yesterday began morning classes in Italian and it got my mind working about language. Aside from being a difficult day with early rising, an absent yet needed washing machine repairman and hearing aid problems, Monday proved to rub me in all the wrong ways. But sticking to the great motto: this too shall pass: the day is now over and I can continue on with my life and focus on the next moments.

Enough complaining and whiny digression, back to Italian. For the first time I thought about my relationship with my roommate Sarah from the point of view of language. We have shared nothing but words in Italian since the day I arrived, no English conversations whatsoever. It is so strange seeing that English is both of our mother tongues and Italian just this other language we are trying to pick up. The other day a man walked into the Internet café where Sarah and I go to check our email until that glorious day when we will have free wireless access at the university library. He started talking to us in English and I stumbled a bit for words. Sarah and I still spoke to each other in Italian.

Whenever my mother calls, the switchover is pretty automatic, although lately I’ve noticed that trying to speak in English to my mother is even becoming a bit belabored. I guess I picked right when it came to cities for Italian language integration. I had wanted to avoid the big metropolis cities of Italy, hoping to avoid the hoards of English students. Chris tells me that in Florence 90% of the students studying abroad do not speak a word of Italian, it’s a point of pride for all of us. Chris walked into a gelateria the other day and ordered in Italian to a woman, shocked, who responded How do you know Italian? And gave him a discount.

I’ve picked up some books in Italian in an attempt to get up to speed with my reading before university starts. I’ve always taken pleasure in reading Italian, it just seems so tied up in real life that every phrase gives me a new appreciation for my existence or a new point of view on interpreting life. At least that’s how I felt with Pirandello and Fo. Hopefully my romp through Italian literature and the Italian university system will give me a similar view on life. In any case, I’ll always have my writing for that.

No comments: