Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tongue Tied

While traveling internationally you come across a plethora of languages. Since leaving the United States I have come across countless languages. Before I came to Italy I took one semester of Italian, not even enough to get by. Since planting my "home base" in Italy I have tried to pick up the Italian language. I am taking an Italian for Traveler's class that is giving me the basics and is helping my speaking and understanding the language quite a bit. I have taken Spanish my whole life and while I am far from fluent I know enough to manage. Italian and Spanish, both being romance languages, are very similar. Going to "bars", cafes, and ordering a hot chocolate or coffee and a pastry and using what I have learned, have helped me to pick up a couple key sayings. Just as I thought I was adjusting to the language barrier I left for my first travel week. Now they say that they speak English in England but it is entirely different English than what we speak in America. Even my Italian taxi driver commented on how, "In America you speak poor English". And here I was thinking my vocabulary was pretty colorful. Landing in London I found myself with a puzzled look on my face and a slew of mumbles in my ears. I had no idea what in the world these people were saying. I knew it was English but it sounded like straight gibberish. I'm sure that what I was saying was confusing to them as well because on more than one occasion I had to repeat what I said and vice versa. As the days went on though, it got much easier to be understood and to understand. I ended up loving their charming English accents. I think it's particularly funny when English people try and say my name, Tina. It comes off as "Tiner". Gets me every time. If I thought London was tough, my head was in a tizzy when we hit Paris. Paris is an international city. With that in mind I was told they would speak plenty of English. This was not the case. Barely anyone in Paris spoke anything but French. Now I had my Italian running through my head, mixed in with American-English, some Spanish, and new French words I was taking in along the way. By the time I got back to the Venice train station at the end of the trip I was so linguistically confused I didn't know where I was. I said "merci", thank you in French, to the teller. Mama mia! Languages are hard to keep straight. It's safe to say by the end of my travels I was severely tongue tied.

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