Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mi Errore - Part II

We wouldn't want to mislead our readers with the videos in the prior post, since not everyone developed fluency during our year in Italy! As with the post at the end of last year, a certain family member continued to stumble through his Italian in the remaining months of our stay. Here are representative errori:

  • With friends of the girls over for a play date, offering them a choice of treats: one a milk-based (mucca) toffee and the other a Coca-cola flavored candy. “Preferisce una caramella di mucca or Cacca?” The unanimous choice of the milk toffee was initially puzzling, until the giggles subside enough to be reminded that Coke is “Coca”, whereas “cacca” is…well…the same thing it is in English!
  • When picking up the girls from a birthday party at a local church, reassuring the guard at the front door that “I'm the father” by saying “io sono il papa.” Just missing the slight inflection on the second “a” (papa vs. papĂ ) completely undermined my credibility, given that I instead declared, “I am the Pope.”
  • Equally subtle is the need to hold your consonants an instant longer when the same consonant is doubled in a word. I am grateful that my inquiries about someone’s age at the many birthday parties - “quanti anni hai?” - was taken for its intended meaning. Only once did I have to sort out why the reply was a curt, “1”: later understanding that my mistaken shorter pronunciation of “ani” meant that I was instead asking how many anuses the person had. How’s that for reinforcing the rude American tourist stereotype?! (And for the non-Italian speakers out there, note that your restaurant order for “penne pasta” also needs to emphasize the long “n” sound, otherwise you are inadvertently ordering “penis pasta.”)
  • After enjoying a fantastic dinner, stopping the waiter from clearing my plate - so I can finish every last drop of the sauce. A thorough scraping of the plate is lovingly referred to as “scarpetta” in Northern Italy, but given my wine and truffle-induced haze, I firmly held onto my plate while mistakenly exclaiming “scarafaggio!” The waiter immediately released the plate, and after a moment of thinking I had actually correctly used a 4-syllable Italian word, I notice her concerned expression…which makes perfect sense given that I had excitedly blurted out, “cockroach!”
  • And to be fair about all the “Lost in Translation” issues, I'm not the only one who has trouble with penne pasta!

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