Translate Me!

Friday, July 12, 2013

How Not To: Speak Italian

Only having studied Italian for a short time in 2012 and again now that I am in Tolentino, I should have known better.

Perhaps I did, but from all of my linguistics studies and personal experience, I have found that one of the best ways to really become proficient in a new language is to speak it.

I have been here less than two weeks, and I have already made at least three grave errors (that I am aware of). I suppose the fact that I have realized I made these errors without anybody pointing them out to me shows just how quickly I am learning, but it doesn't make me feel any less shame for my accidental but controversial comments.

How I feel right now.
Photo credit:

Let the countdown commence!

My 3 Mortal Mistakes

3. You put fish in what????

Bottled tea is really quite popular here. I kept seeing tè alla pesca. I decided that pesca must mean "fish", but I was quite confounded by this and assumed  I had to be wrong. However, lack of internet and forgetfulness when I had it kept me from double checking this matter. Lack of pictures of peaches or fish on the bottles made it impossible to verify by sight alone.

One night we went go-karting with some of Will's colleagues. We sat across from two siblings who we tried to talk with in Italian as best we could. One said the word pesce, and I noted that it sounded different than what I thought pesca would. I found out from her that pesce meant "fish" and pesca meant "peach", much to my relief and chagrin, as she wanted me to explain why I was laughing so hard when she explained the two words to me.

2. Waiting for the call that never came...

I was talking to one of the many, very nice hotel workers here at Hotel 77. I was trying to tell her that I was waiting on a call from my father and imagined papa would be an okay way of saying it. I'm pretty sure that's exactly how I said it too, stressing the first "a". Another guest arrived for her to assist, so she never got to tell me just how interesting that was, since papa is the word for "Pope" and papà is apparently how "dad" is pronounced. 

My apologies to the Pope for inadvertently suggesting I was expecting a call from him which I never received.

1. Would you care for what Theon just lost on GoT?

I humbly come before you all to admit this last error. May my embarrassment bring you both laughter and knowledge, and may you never ask the same atrocious question I asked a colleague of Will's.

Everyone was signing their lives away consent forms at the go-kart track (they went 70 mph), and I had a pen. Another person needed to fill his form out, so I offered him my pen, only I said pene when I looked to him and offered it. Awesome. 

I was so confident I knew the right word because I had read it just the night before in my Rick Steves' Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary

However, I was dead wrong. I had just offered one of Will's colleagues a penis. I am mortified. The man said nothing and kept a poker face. Penna is pen. 

That's one word I will never forget!

Have you had a similar experience with a language you are learning? Please share it below (you can even do so anonymously if it's terribly embarrassing!).

I miss this book, which I had to leave in the States because it was SO BIG and I *never dreamed* that I would get to stay in Italy for so long. Maybe if I had it with me, I would have actually offered that poor man a pen!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ciao Tolentino

We arrived in Tolentino last night by train after quite a hectic day.

We didn't sleep Saturday night as we were finishing up packing and storing things as well as cleaning our flat (we will miss that flat!)

Running late Sunday am, naturally, we had to take the taxi to the airport. I have never seen such craziness at an airport as I saw there at Vueling's desks. People were everywhere, weaving in and out, cutting, whatever.

We read that a passenger with the Optimal fare we bought was allowed to have more than one bag, so long as those bags together did not exceed 23 Kgs. We distributed the weight of six months worth of packed items in two carry on bags, one huge rolling luggage, one ESADE laptop bag, and one over-the-shoulder suit bag, in order to not have any one bag weighing more than 23 KGS. Will's rolling luggage was right under the limit. My two bags were 0.1 kg over, but that's not what caused the problem.

Apparently, you can have more than one over person, but you have to pay 35 euros for the second bag. Thus, a tiny checked laptop bag with less than 10kgs cost me 35 euros. That's fine. We chugged the last Mountain Dew left from my friend Danielle's voyage to Barcelona (thanks, girl!!!) before entering security, and I enjoyed my last Spanish pastries after collecting our luggage.

Then, my poor, sick and tired Will braved the Italian frontier with his caravan of luggage to the Malpensa Express train to Milano Centrale (central with a "CH", 10 euros each). After, while fighting off nausea and bad coughs with some mystery Italian lozenges, he single-handedly carried all the luggage (bahahahaha, wink, wink!) From line 1 to line 19, and we were off in first class style to Ancona (75 euros each). Otherwise, it was standing room only for 4 hours.

We met a nice mother and son who sat next to us and braved my bare bones Italian for the sake of conversation. I also met an Italian granny who fought several cars of standing people to get to the food car and wait for what seemed like 10-15 minutes...for a Birra Moretti. (Note to self: must try this beer).

After, we traversed the tracks to Civitanova M. in a smaller train and again to Tolentino from an even smaller one (10 each total for both). This last one had no A/C, and we had to stand in the in-between area as our luggage was too big to fit easily into the cars with seats. After a few hours, we exited at Tolentino and pondered how to get to the hotel with no 3G or WiFi to guide us.

We had a screen shot of the hotel address and guessed the partially missing hotel phone number from the fax number (front numbers were missing). The receptionist was nice, but she did not speak English. My Italian is "in process", but she understood Spanish, and said she would send a taxi to the station.

A few minutes later, a very nice man who worked for the hotel drove up in a VW Beetle. He saw our luggage (in the last post, I mentioned how important it is to pack light) and nearly fainted. We got all the luggage (and us!) in one trip. He was on his way in to work and didn't want us to have to pay a taxi, so he picked us up himself. We were very thankful, and we showed our gratitude with lots of "grazie"ing and promptly went to bed.

We woke up after about 14 hours and went to breakfast at nine. The pastries here are just as good if not better than the ones from Barcelona.

Life is good. :)

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