Friday, August 14, 2009

Language Lessons on the Lake

If you have ever tried to learn a foreign language, you will know that it's a process filled with risk and peril. You know the words, you know the grammar, you put it all together...but something goes wrong! Somewhere along the line that innocent little error on your part muddles up the whole communicative act. You have to be a brave, risk-taking kind of person every time you open your mouth because you never know when you're going to say something that's funny, incomprehensible or even offensive!

I can hardly count the thousands of times that I have said something in Italian and gotten blank stares or snorts of laughter as a response. And isn't that frustrating? What? Was that a swear word I just said to my mother-in-law? What? Did I just talk about the "bachelors" on my back rather than my "shoulder blades"? Can't you just understand what I mean, rather than listening to the nonsense I say?!

Well, on this trip to the States I am getting a lot of satisfaction from being on the other side of the language divide. My husband is creating all the language snafus while I just sit back and enjoy the show! In a real supportive, loving kind of way, of course...

The best one so far was at the lake the other day. It was our turn to take a spin in the canoe, but I could barely sit down on the seat because it was burning hot from the sun. My husband helpfully suggested, "Why don't you sit on the lifeguard?" (meaning the life-jacket!)

Well, honey, if you insist!

6 comments:

mouse (aka kimy) said...

oh yes!! but I expect after your years of living in italy your language blunders are few and far between.

when it comes language learning/speaking, how I wish I could turn back the clock. as a child I never really gave it my all and was quickly discouraged by a couple very unsupportive teachers - somehow not all teachers in the 60s received the memo about not intimidating or making fun of students learning a new language.

it is so amusing to hear what words some times pop up...lifeguard and lifejacket ...bachlelors and shoulder blades...reminds me of the time I ordered 'chicken and napkins' in a french restaurant instead of 'chicken and shrimp' - fortunately I did catch my blunder when faced with the perplexed look of the server.

love the canoe photo - quite a fitting illustration on many levels for today's topic!

Saretta said...

Well, believe it or not Kimy, I still make mistakes all the time...and I speak Italian quite well (if I do say so myself!). It's just normal, I guess. We all make mistakes when speaking our first language, but we don't even think about it.

Your chicken and napkins reminds me of another classic of mine, when I ordered fish flavored vodka instead of peach flavored vodka!

Vogon Poet said...

What a tolerant husband you have!
My ex brother in law, a Texan who spent some time here and knew a bit of Italian, continued for months to ask for his 'bicchieri' meaning 'occhiali' every time.
And obviously I could write a book on MY blunders...

Saretta said...

How funny, Poet! Well, it would make sense to an English speaker that glasses are glasses!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Love that!

Fabrizio - ikol22 said...

Poor Saretta's husband. Tell him I know what he feels :-) I said for ages: "you are in right" because we say "tu sei nel giusto" and *none* suggested the right form grrrr