Fluent Italian?

Jul 1st, 2001, 03:43 PM
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Fluent Italian?

My girlfriend and I will be traveling to France (Paris, Nice) and Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice) in August. We've been to Paris before and found that although most hotel/restaurant staff speaks a little English, knowing French was very handy. My basic level French was mostly sufficient, but I did enjoy English translations of the menus which allowed me to get a better idea of what I was about to order.
Now, I don't speak Italian at all. I will learn a few phrases, but as any taveller will know, it will be not enough to communicate. I'm also under impression that hotel/restaurant/tourist places staff is not very fluent in English.
To make a long story short: do I need to bring English/Italian/English dictionary/phrase book everywhere I go, or would I be able to get by with English/French/Russian?
Jul 1st, 2001, 03:45 PM
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Sorry, YS, but I cannot fathom why you would EVER want an English/French/Russian dictionary in Italy. You're better off with just a smattering of Italian and a good knowledge of English, IMHO. But, then, maybe there is some kind of rationale that I am not seeing?
Jul 1st, 2001, 03:53 PM
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English will be useful quite often. The more Italian you have, the more interesting time you'll have. I always find a pocket phrase book and pocket dictionary of use when I travel ... I continue to learn as I'm there.

Damned if I know why you'd find French or Russian terribly useful in Italy, unless you're planning on spending your time with French and Russian folks you happen to find there ... I'm sure there are some.
Jul 1st, 2001, 03:57 PM
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... typing too fast has it's problems...
What I wanted to say was "... would I be able to get by with MY KNOWLEDGE OF English/French/Russian".
Jul 1st, 2001, 04:08 PM
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I carried a small English/Italian dictionary (that I bought from Amazon.com)with me while in Italy. The back section had a menu and drink translation section, which my husband and I found very helpful.
Jul 1st, 2001, 04:27 PM
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As others have said, it is helpful to have a smattering of Italian --- at minimum, a few basic phrases, especially 'good morning' (buon giorno), 'please' (per favore) and 'thank-you' (grazie) do go along way and particularly when traveling during peak season of summer. It sounds like you're headed to the big cities and you'll find more English speakers there than in smaller towns.

AND, if addition to a simple phrase book, I've found it especially helpful to get a language tape. Or even watch a few movies in Italian --- you really need to "hear" the pronounciation & acclimate your ear. Yes, it's a romance language & shares that commonality with French, but there are significant differences in how they sound.
Jul 1st, 2001, 06:21 PM
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You should be fine with english and some basic italian sentences. It could happen that english won't be understood and french will be, but such instances should be rare, especially in major towns and even more with service staff. By the way, I want to point out that italian people don't understand spoken french without learning it (some people believe that both languages are similar enough for mutual understanding ). I'm pretty sure that russian shouldn't be of any use...

However, I would nevertheless bring a tiny dictionnary or phrasebook. It obviously happens that you need some information from someone who speaks only the local language, and your phrasebook will spare you a lot of frustration. Wherever I went, I always used my phrasebook at some point, and never regreted to have brought it (and these things don't take a lot of space).
Of course, you can always (or so I suppose) get by without a phrasebook, but you could avoid for instance :

-queueing a second time at the next desk...

-having no clue about what you've ordered at the restaurant...

-being unable to find the swimming pool in some little town where nobody seems to speak a foreign language...
Jul 1st, 2001, 07:07 PM
george tauber
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the little phrase book was handy but almost everybody spoke english. only trouble i had was at the train station. people there were the best---as i leave for france in 2 weeks i hope i will get along as well as i did in italy. it's a wonderful place with wonderfull food, people and sights.

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