God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Are We Bilingual Yet?

Let me put it this way--if we need italiano in order to eat, we are in a lot of trouble. I guess the simplest and fastest way to convince you is this little vignette.

While in Italy last October, I bought several books for Casey so that he could learn to read in Italian. Most of these are primer books--you know the kind that kids use when starting to read. They have turned out to be a good idea, as Casey's tutor has been able to use them with him and those they have read he understands.

Unfortunately, Lara has returned to Italy for a month and so Casey is without a teacher. She is so good with him and he loves his lessons. We all anxiously await her return in mid-May. My fear is that she won't be back.

Anyway, I have taken it upon myself to help him read the book
"L'Albero Giovanni E La Bambina". Which I believe translates into "The Tree, John, and the Little Girl". But I am not even sure about that--so you can see that we have a problem. How can the child learn when the teacher is ignorant?

And then there is the whole issue of pronounciation. Just where is the word accented? Usually not where my speech patterns want to place it. And--if you have ever given thought to why a person who does not speak English well is difficult to understand, it is usually because the syllable being accented is the wrong one; thus, our ear doesn't translate the word to our brain. So, even when I know the correct word and use it properly, often the person I'm speaking to has a very quizzical, "What is this lady saying?" look on his face. Which results in my total sense of incompetence. Maybe we need to be more sensitive to people in the USA who have English as a second language? Do you think?

Back to "our little tree." Fortunately, I have friends in Italy who are a simple cyberspace message away and so, yesterday, when on-line dictionaries failed me as I prepared to help Casey with the book, I was able to send out an SOS for translation. Of course, since this was regarding a pre-first grade primer, these friends were left with no illusions about my linguistic progress--clearly caterpiller slow.

After two hours of laborious, sweat producing work, finally I found that L'albaero giovanni odia il solletico" means that John, the tree, does not like to be tickled.--which is probably true of all trees with snails climbing on them. And--so the little girl, the tree's friend Sofia, enters the picture--Poi Sofia dà una grattatina al naso di giovanni. (Then Sofia gave a little scratch to the nose of giovanni.) Finally, as with all good tales, the ending brings a smile--Sofia, sitting near to John, reads a story and the tree is very happy.

Now--I am not too sure that this plot line is going to capture Casey who loves transformers, silly antics and exciting adventure, but, he will have a sense of accomplishment as he reads the book and, will, without fail, correct my pronounciation readily and willingly. He may not know what the words mean but he does know how to say them--like a real Italian boy would.

So, thank you to friend Guilia, of Spain and Italy, for helping out with this little exercise. If you will be visiting the central area of Italy, check out her Bed and Breakfast located in Urbino--Locanda della Valle Nuova. This is a lovely country home with organic farming and horse stables. We haven't yet stayed with her, but have every intention of doing so during our year in Italia. Casey will love the horses and we will love the food! And meeting Guilia, live and in person, will be a treat.


Sheilah said...

the correct translation of "l'albero Giovanni e la bambina" is:
"The tree named John and the lil' girl".
Good luck in Tuscany!

Judith in Umbria said...

When there is a double consanent, like tt mm rr but also sc st etc., the accent USUALLY falls on the syllable before. Like in English, there are exceptions, often names.

Guess what, Jane?
But first, Alberta said to say Ciao from her.
Shortly will be published on SlowTrav my first paid reporting job.
(I have been paid for writing, but not as a 'giornalista' and I am pretty darned tickled.

Ann said...

Ordering in a restaurant/grocery store will become old hat once you're here, will become second nature. Hang in there!