Monday, June 1, 2015

Parla. Parla. Parla.

Novelia e Peppe

To have another language is to possess a second soul.❞   ~ Charlemagne

 Since I speak two-and-a-half languages, I hope I have two-and-a-half souls. If I get good enough at it, I may end up with three. And, if I have three souls, maybe I'll have three lives.  That's not quite as good as a cat's nine lives, but I'll take it.

I probably said this last year, but I love learning languages. As most of you know, I majored in Spanish, went to grad school for Spanish, and taught Spanish. I also took Greek in continuing ed once, and I can still say about three sentences. (Hello! How are you? I'm a girl.)  I know about the same in German except that instead of saying I'm a girl, I can count to 10.  (Look out, World!!)

I read an article recently that outlined 10 rules for learning languages, and while I won't go into all of them, I can tell you that I agreed with most of them.  The guy who wrote it speaks nine languages and is learning a few more.  He advises to not be afraid of making mistakes (one of my big downfalls) and to watch and listen when people speak. 

Some nuns

That's really how I learned. While I had to take classes last summer to understand the grammar, once I learned the basics, I started listening and watching. I got better as the summer went on, as my friend Cesar told me.  He is Spanish, and at the beginning, I spoke to him in Spanish.  He finally insisted that I speak only Italian, so I did.  I still throw some Spanish in with the Italian, but now more than anything, I throw Italian in with the Spanish.

"I do the same thing," he told me today, "when I speak with my parents.  Some of my Spanish friends also tell me that I now have an Italian accent when I speak Spanish."   I thought that was interesting.

"How long have you lived here?" I asked him as I couldn't remember.

"Four years," he replied.  He moved to Bologna from Piacenza a year ago. Before that, he lived in China for seven years. And, yes, he does speak Chinese...and English.

I am to the point that I can understand about 60-70% of what someone says to me, although I usually have to ask them to slow down.  Italians talk in staccato tempo, and it takes me a bit to go from speaking English to the groups to listening and talking to someone in Italian.  There are a few words that drive me nuts, and I have to ask someone to repeat them all the time.  I'll talk about those later, but ice and cherries are two of them.  Geez.

So, why the photos if I'm talking language today?  The top one is of Novelia and Peppe, my good friends from Sulmona.  Peppe doesn't speak English (although I know he understands everything we say in English think he can speak it.... Ti amo, Peppe!), and two years ago I couldn't really communicate with him.  Last week, I was able to talk to him without having Novelia translate. 

Maybe I'll get that third soul soon...

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