A Suburban City Girl in A Small Town

Moment by moment……

Capite Italiano

on April 12, 2013
Italian Language Workshop

Italian Language Workshop (Photo credit: Context Travel)

 

I’ve decided to learn a few languages. Using the Pimsleur Language Method, I’ve started learning Italian. This is a language near and dear to my heart as my father was born and raised in Sicily. As you know from past postings, I’ve been to Italy and met many family members.

 

So Italian was an obvious first choice.

 

Allow me to digress for a moment. A few years ago, I was sitting in an English class in college when my professor, an extremely intelligent man, began talking about how people from other countries and how they are often othered by the language barrier. They hear what we say but our words must then go through the process of being interpreted in their brains into their first language in order for them to understand us. Even then, there’s a huge margin for error.

 

For example, when my father first came  here, someone would speak English to him. In the space of a few seconds, he had to translate those words, on a purely mental level, into Italian, grasp their meaning, form a reply and then translate it into English in order to speak it out of his mouth.

 

Sounds exhausting!

 

Yet this is what immigrants have gone through time and time again. This is what they continue to go through today.

 

I admit, when my professor was talking about this, I lodged this information away for another time, too anxious to get back to our text. However, as I begin this journey into a new way of speaking, I’m reminded of his words. I listen to my CD in the car. I gain an understanding. But then, as the instructor begins to speak, I have to mentally translate his Italian into my English, form a reply, translate into Italian and so on.

 

What I’m learning, outside of my father’s first language, is a new way for my brain to work. Not only is my brain being overhauled, my tongue and lips are facing the challenge of moving in a way contradictory to what they’ve known for 44 years. They are learning to form words and sounds they’ve never made.

 

I accept this challenge! I plan to meet it head on with the intention of putting my skill to the test by revisiting Italy and communicating with its people.

 

After I master Italian, then it’s on to French, Spanish and I just may pick up my sign language again. Who knows where this will lead! But for now….ciao, amici!

 

 

 

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