Before I came to Italy I spoke English and French. Now after five weeks in an Italian course, I am afraid that I can’t yet claim that I speak Italian and maybe I no longer speak French, at least not as well as I did 5 weeks ago. Thank goodness that I can still speak English!
Now I am speaking something that I call “Fritalian”, a mixture of French and Italian. For the first few weeks, every time I tried to speak I would start in French then have to stop and restart in Italian. I still do the same thing if I speak spontaneously, but now, if I am careful, I can start a sentence in Italian and only use a few French nouns or prepositions. I am usually unaware of this and realise it only when I get a confused stare from the other person. Recently I went into a hair salon and asked “how much” (in French) “for a haircut”( in Italian), and then I wondered why the man answered me in English.
But, little by little, it seems that the Italian is taking over the French. When I tried speaking French to a friend over the phone, it was the Italian words that wanted priority. I am trying to be patient and hoping that my brain will soon figure out that these are two separate languages and that I will eventually be able to speak them one at a time instead of both at once.
Even with my temporary (I hope) “Fritalian” problem, I find that the Italian people are very patient and encouraging when I try to speak their language. Just the other day I bought something and when asked if I needed a sac, I replied, “No, I can put it in my purse”. I managed to get out that short phrase all in Italian and the merchant complimented me on my language skills and asked if I lived in Italy. I had said only a few words, but his encouraging remarks left me feeling “fluent”.
Even though the Italians, on the whole, are tolerant of my speaking ability, I know I need a lot of improvement. So this week I am starting with a private professor for conversation. Group conversation classes just don’t work for me because I don’t like speaking in groups – not in English, French or Italian. So I am taking the group grammar course and then a private conversation course. I am hoping I will have good results from this and will soon be chatting away in Italian. (Fingers crossed)
Until next time, Au revoir — I mean Arriverderci
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