7 Reasons My Italian Self-Teaching May Get Me Into Trouble
Hello. I’m on a plane. At least I am if you are reading this at 9am on Monday morning. If you are reading it at 9pm on Monday evening then I bloody well hope I’m not on a plane and if you are reading it in June 2014, well, I couldn’t really care less. I’m assuming, as I write, that it is 9am on Monday morning and I am currently on a plane that is destined for Italy. Yes, I’m going on holiday. I thought you’d be pleased. Over the last week, I have done a little language based learning. And, in what is quite a coincidence, I have been learning Italian. Unfortunately, I am not the best when it comes to languages. Partly because I always sound a bit Indian when speaking with another tongue and partly because I just can’t be bothered with it. Which, I admit, is an abysmal attitude to have, but I will gladly take any applause you are prepared to give me for honesty. As a result of these two factors, the Italians might be in for something of a shock. Here’s why:
1. Accents. My Italian accent isn’t very good. Unless you like Italian accents that sound Indian. I imagine the Italians don’t.
2. What A Mistaka To Maka. I can’t help it. Without a teacher I revert to learning my Italian from Allo! Allo! clips on YouTube. I keep adding the letter ‘a’ onto anything I say. Oh, and I’m speaking English.
3. Roma! Lazio! The only words I can pronounce with any confidence are the names of football clubs or, indeed, names of footballers. I may get away with randomly shouting ‘Cannavaro!’ and ‘Del Piero!’ but I imagine I would not with ‘Totti!’. And, talking about football, Italy are playing Serbia tomorrow night. Along with many people in the 1990s, I watched Football Italia on Channel 4. And, along with many people, I always assumed the phrase uttered at the end of the opening credits – ‘Golaccio!’ – meant…
4. ‘Goal Lazio!!’. That’s what it sounded like after all. You can see it here if you need reminding/have no idea what I’m going on about. Now ‘Golaccio’ may seem like a sensible thing to say if Lazio’s Sergio Floccari finds the back of the net for his national side. But it wouldn’t be. For the simple reason that the word is actually ‘Golazo’. And it’s Spanish. And despite finding this out, I know it’s not going to make any bloody difference. I am still going to shout ‘Golazo!’ if Italy score. Or Spain. Or Serbia. Or England. Because that’s me. And no one would have me any other way.
5. French. The only language I have ever learnt – apart from English and Latin obviously – is French. And, despite years of trying to forget such nonsense, I still seem to remember a fair bit of it. And the reason I know this is because unwelcome words keeps slipping into my otherwise expertly recited Italian phrases, ‘Buon giorno. Parla inglese, s’il vous plaît?’. If someone started asking me a question in English and then slipped in something about frogs-legs, I’d be furious. I would expect the Italians to be similar.
6. Hands. Whether it’s a myth or not, Italian’s are famous for their hand gestures. So I’ve been practising mine too. So far, I have the ‘bang on desk’, the ‘I’ve got the whole world in my hands’ and the ‘bunny shadow’ gestures in my repetoire. And they make very little sense with my Italian/French/Indian speil.
7. Pizza. I spent much of my time in the week before Rome, practising the pronunciation of pizza names using a Pizza Express menu. As a result I am unlikely to be able to eat anything other than pizza for the whole week. While this is not a problem in itself, the fact that I can only pronounce Margherita with any confidence, could be.