With her smattering of English, and my smattering of Italian, and both of us fluent in “international arm waving language”, at McDonalds, we started on our interesting journey.
Our first roadblock (if you will pardon the pun) was to get me to understand “Follow me. We’ll turn around here and go to my mother’s house where you will leave your car.” She pointed to me, then her, then waved a big U with her hand. I heard “casa di madre”, and off we drove.
Arriving at her mom’s house, I parked my car in a spot that left 4 inches of room off the front and rear bumpers. Parallel parking takes on a completely new meaning here.
Challenge One, check!
I followed her into her mom’s apartment complex and into an elevator built for one, maybe two.
I was offered tea, which I accepted and proceeded to tell them in my version of Italian…
“Parlo inglese di la donna quarantaquattro anni. Parlo Italian di la raggaza quattro anni.”
(I speak English like a 44-year-old woman. I speak Italian like a 4-year-old child.)
Parli italiano velocemente per mi capire.
(You speak Italian too fast for me to understand.)
I understand roughly 200-300 Italian words. What makes understanding so hard for me is that for each verb, there is a possibility of nine different endings. It depends on who is speaking, and whom the action involves. Me, you, he/she/it, we, yous, them. Okay, so Yous is not in English, but they have a plural “you”. Also, past, future and present all have different endings.
Nouns have four different endings depending on male or female, singular or plural. In addition, any adjective that follows the noun will have the same ending as the noun. In front of the noun, there is one of six different ways to say “the”. Il, i, gli, la, le l’, again depending on the gender of the noun and if it is singular or plural. It is required that you always say either “the” or “a” in front of a noun.
It is all very logical until I have to speak or listen! I can understand the language much easier when I can read it.
When the language is spoken slowly enough, I can detect the different sounds that make up the words. I can also separate out the articles, nouns, verbs and adjectives.
Ivana had her dictionary, and I had mine. When we were stuck on a word, we looked them up!
Challenge Two, check!
From that point on, we communicated with non c’e problema!