Friday, June 22, 2007

Non Parlo Italiano!

Okay, here is something I have to admit, that I am surprised about, and you know that nothing really surprises me but also, I am a little ashamed! Recently, I have had a couple of occasions to indicate to people (read "Men") that I do not speak Italian!

I regret to say that I have heard people say in the US, that when they encounter non English speaking people in the United States, they often believe that they can speak English, or at least understand some of it, but that they use the language barrier to their own benefit. Having traveled frequently to other countries where I do not know the language, I do not believe that is true. Learning a new language is overwhelming and intimidating, and it is a very vulnerable position to be in when you do not understand what people are saying to you. Even when you begin to understand, as I am, there is still always the fear that what you believe they are saying is an incorrect translation on your part, and when you answer, God forbid that you say yes to something that you did not understand you were saying yes to! (This has happened to me in a most embarrassing way!)

Anyway, that is my belief. Now, I may have to modify that based on my own shameful actions.
When Regine and I are together talking, it is a mixture of Italian and English with a German and Southern accent. Regine occasionally throws in a German word when she doesn’t know the English or Italian one. Hearing our conversations is confusing in regards to what language we are actually speaking, and we sometimes have people inquire.

While walking with her last night, we were approached by two Arab men. They were speaking arabic when we approached, and inquired if we spoke Italian to which we shamefully replied "No, non parlo Italiano! " Since they were non English speaking, and we had no common language, they did not pursue us. This is not the first time it has happened, and it is easy to get rid of someone you really don’t want to talk to by saying "no, non parlo Italiano". Do you think that’s a bad thing?

No comments: