I’ve just come back from a very pleasant few days in Italy. I now know what pasta should taste like, as opposed to how I normally cook it. My eyes were opened.
I didn’t know any Italian until a few days before going, and I have the following observations to make:
- Most Italians speak English…
- …but they take kindly to those who make at least some effort at the language
- Mnemonics make learning new words waaay easier
- How I wish Cantonese has as many cognates with English as Italian does
- The words you need to know for a short trip to a country aren’t the words you’d ordinarily learn first when learning a language properly
- I could put on an understandable Italian accent with 5 minutes work reading up on simple rules and mimicking the way Italians speak English (rhythm, intonation etc.)
- Speaking beat studying for confidence and actually learning words and phrases properly
- Full sentence not need make self understood
Yes, this is basically the Gospel of Benny, but hey! I’m just spreading the good news further 😉 It was really quite a difference to look at a European language as opposed to Cantonese/Japanese – when reading, it’s possible to figure out the approximate meaning of many words simply from their similarity to English.
It was also interesting how smiling and saying “hello” in Italian (“buon giorno”) changed the way that locals interacted with us (versus the times we approached them using English). Making even a small effort made each encounter more enjoyable for both parties.
This post is called “Ciao, Italia”, because “ciao” means both “hello” and “goodbye”. I (probably) won’t be returning to Italian – I already have quite enough on my plate! I hadn’t been anywhere in Europe before, but I can see exactly why Benny has such a good time on his three-month missions. I might try to arrange one myself at some point, although it’ll rely on being able to work in the country in question for however long I’m there. Watch this space…