To Learn the Language (and Not Sound Like an Idiot) Pt. 2

I’ve noted before that one of the struggles of learning a new language is going from being reasonably articulate in your native tongue to being reduced to childish phrases and half-sentences in your new language. Well, one of the blogs I’ve quoted before on this subject has another post about it which I think is worth quoting again.


Elizabeth of Cross-Cultural Moments has a way of looking at everyday experiences and extracting meaning from them – meaning that takes the form of cultural collisions (or, if she’s lucky, mere cultural fender-benders) between her American-born self and her adopted home of Italy. She’s completely fluent in Italian, but has recently begun taking lessons in the fine art of writing in, for lack of a better explanation, a more truly Italian way.

As she’s mentioned in the past, Italian writing is much more what we might call “flowery” than American writing tends to be, so learning how to write like an Italian isn’t as easy as just translating the words. Her new post quotes her teacher as saying something I found fascinating:

“English”, he said, “Is free yet not anarchic at all, while Italian full of rules yet anarchic in practice.”




If there’s a better way to describe the Italian language with all its rules and then inconsistencies based on nothing more than what seems like whim, I’d like to see it.

My joke with my Italian students was always, “Blame Dante,” since he’s considered the father of modern Italian. Don’t understand why a rule exists? Blame Dante. Can’t figure out why the pronunciation on a certain word doesn’t follow the rules? Blame Dante. From now on I think I’m also going to quote Elizabeth’s teacher in class.

Photo by: stezan

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