Speaking Italian

Old Feb 20th, 2016, 04:53 AM
  #21  
 
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'Parisian salespeople are notoriously brutal towards tourists who murder their language. They exhibit no appreciation for a mediocre effort, and they'll often insist that you speak English just to get you to stop causing them ear pain.'

Utter bullshit.

I don't understand why all your posts are so negative - I can only imagine that you are a negative person yourself and that you would be be brutally handling somebody trying to speak some english to you.

Most people will definitely appreciate somebody's efforts to communicate in another language.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 04:56 AM
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It can take years of study to learn how to formulate sentences. In order to answer simple questions, you must be able to hear all the words in the question and understand their meaning. To do this as an adult, it takes a lot of practice, for more time than most people realize or are willing to commit.>>

NYfoodsnob - I disagree profoundly with your discouraging words to the OP.

I am living proof that you can learn a language as an adult and I think you'd find quite a few others here too who have done the same.

of course it takes time, effort and commitment, but if the OP follows the advice s/he's had here there is every chance that by the time s/he goes to Italy, s/he will be able to ask and answer simple questions, understand signs, directions, menus etc.

ssander - I think that your system looks great and fulfils one of Michel Thomas's edicts in foreign language learning - "to get the ball over the net"!
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 05:15 AM
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<i><font color=#555555>"I don't understand why all your posts are so negative"</font></i>

That's a troll statement with absolutely no validity.

<i><font color=#555555>"I disagree profoundly with your discouraging words to the OP."</font></i>

I would never discourage anyone from learning a language. I don't appreciate your agenda-ridden mis-characterization of my words, a habit you can't seem to control.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 05:40 AM
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I would never discourage anyone from learning a language.>>

you just did - how else would you describe the passage quoted by Whathello?

my only "agenda" is to encourage the OP to have a go at learning italian; what's yours?
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 05:53 AM
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NYC
I'm sorry. There is a lot of positive in your posts.
About yourself.

You are a businesswoman
you can take decisions
you work out
you are a tall gorgeous blond actress
you are full of irony
you made a fortune of selling pics of yourself

Some info may be not totally accurate, I didn't make the efforts of going back into all your posts, I merely quoted from memory. I didn't see many useful info though...
When is the last time you gave a travel tip to somebody ?

I'm a tall gorgeous blond businessman, and I've a good memory...
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 06:05 AM
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annhig, I do my best to ignore troll posts, so I don't know what "passage" you speak of.

I'm a former property owner in Paris. I conduct business in France, and I've been working in Paris for almost thirty years. It has taken me a lifetime to learn French, and I still make mistakes.

Granted, I tend to be a perfectionist. Most people are content to know just a few words or phrases. Anyone who writes "I have no interest in conjugating verbs" is not at all serious about language. If you feel like taking the time to further encourage such a person, knock yourself out. My time is limited.

<i><font color=#555555>"I am living proof that you can learn a language as an adult"</font></i>

Well now, we really can't judge your skill right here and now, can we?

I have a business friend who travels to Italy at least twice a year, spending a month each visit. She takes enormous pride in the Italian "friends" she's accumulated, and she brags constantly about her skill at speaking "fluent" Italian. The first time I heard her speak Italian, I had to run for the Q-tips because my ears could not believe what they were hearing. It was as if she never learned the basics of pronunciation, making one obvious mistake after another. She's a prime example of Italian hospitality. Apparently, her Italian "friends" don't bother to correct her mess.

Sandy is correct when she writes, "Italians are very forgiving of a mispronunciation." The French, particularly in Paris, are not so forgiving. And the nasal thing is difficult to master.

annhig, I don't have a Pollyanna view of the world. Being a realist is not the same thing as being negative. But you have a bad and rude habit of projecting your negative spin onto my words.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 06:22 AM
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annhig, I do my best to ignore troll posts, so I don't know what "passage" you speak of.>>

The passage I referred to here:

<<I would never discourage anyone from learning a language.>>

>>you just did - how else would you describe the passage quoted by Whathello?<<

vis:

<<Parisian salespeople are notoriously brutal towards tourists who murder their language. They exhibit no appreciation for a mediocre effort, and they'll often insist that you speak English just to get you to stop causing them ear pain.'>>

if that wasn't trying to discourage the OP, I don't know what it was.

>>"I am living proof that you can learn a language as an adult"<<

<<Well now, we really can't judge your skill right here and now, can we?>>

you're right, you can't, but you certainly have a good try by following that with your comments about a "friend" whose italian has you "running for the Q tips"

<<But you have a bad and rude habit of projecting your negative spin onto my words.>>

unlike you, I don't have time to keep count of the things that you have said that I've commented on. But if I ever read a positive remark about someone else from you, I'll be sure to let you know.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 06:30 AM
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Annhig : this is the quote of the day !

To Snob : 'But if I ever read a positive remark about someone else from you, I'll be sure to let you know.'

BTW, for somebody who runs a business in France it should be known that 'Snob' has a negative connotation in french.

'se fourvoie dans une fausse élégance de ... parvenu' I really love this one and am ready to translate it should somebody asks.

From Wikipedia :
Un snob, c'est-à-dire une personne qui fait preuve de snobisme, cherche à se distinguer du commun des mortels mais se fourvoie dans une fausse élégance de parvenu ou un suivisme de cuistre. Désireux d'appartenir à une élite, le snob tend à reproduire le comportement d'une classe sociale ou intellectuelle qu'il estime supérieure. Souvent, il imite les signes distinctifs de cette classe, qu'il s'agisse du langage, des goûts, des modes ou des habitudes de vie. Il traite avec mépris ceux qu'il considère comme ses inférieurs1
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 06:52 AM
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Annhig...

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

I have found both Italians and Parisians to be very appreciative of my efforts. The Parisians are (in my very limited experience) more likely to correct me...but they are always polite when doing so...I get the impression they are just trying to help me learn the language they love.

There is one other trick I have used on occasion. I call it the Carlin Method...based on a comedy routine by George Carlin. I am not being facetious or sarcastic. With some words that I do not know in French, I merely pronounce say them in English with a French accent.

This seems to work on two levels in terms of being understood:

(a) A huge number of English words came from French. For instance, a number of words that end in -tion, -able, or -ence are the same in French...or close.

(b)Native French speakers of English will usually speak English with a French accent, so pronouncing my English words that way can make them more easily understood.

I apologize if I have gone off the rails with this...many of my friends think I am either nuts or joking -- but I've never had anyone get angry when I have done it.

ssander
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 06:53 AM
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<just want to feel somewhat comfortable and be able to tell someone what I want or answer a simple question>

I know some Spanish, I've been working on it for years. I can read signs and the newspaper pretty well, greet people, order in a restaurant, understand prices/numbers.

To me the tricky part is understanding other people, either what they are asking you, or what they have just said in reply to your simple questions. That seems the hardest part to me. And I'm not talking verb conjugation or grammar, just simple exchanges.

For our OP I still say go for it!! And focus on basics for both places. Hello, thank you, excuse me, I'm sorry, food items, numbers, etc.

I think the handiest single phrase and learn it so it rolls of your tongue in each language is "I'm sorry I don't speak Italian/French, do you speak English?" said with a humble smile.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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Ashley...

<em>Désolé, mon français est mauvais.</em>
I'm sorry, my French is bad.

<em>Mi dispiace, il mio italiano è male.</em>
I'm sorry, my Italian is bad.

Most people will be very helpful to the extent that they speak English...especially since you are showing your politeness and your need for help...and not reinforcing the stereotype that you demand others to speak English in their country.

Have fun...trying to communicate in a foreign country is part of the great experience...don't be shy or afraid to make mistakes.

ssander
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 07:17 AM
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>> I merely pronounce say them in English with a French accent.<<

That is hilarious. Whatever works.

Another approach is to learn "How do you say ..." in French and English and then say the English word.

For instance, in Italian, you would say, "Come si dice ... 'shoe'?" And the Italian speaker will say the translated word.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 07:48 AM
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<i>I just want to feel somewhat comfortable and be able to tell someone what I want or answer a simple question.</i>

Going from English to another language will be much easier than the reverse since any native speaker will have such a large vocabulary. I've long thought of making a tourist t-shirt akin to the ones you see HS kids wearing with the names of all the people in their graduating class, but mine will have foreign words and be headed "These are the words I know. Speak slowly, no more than 5 in a sentence" ;-)

But if you mean answer a question such as "how many?" or "inside or outside?" at a cafe, you can learn those. Context is a real help. The person greeting you at the door in a restaurant is likely asking how many people or where you want to sit, even if you only grasp 1 or 2 words, rather than asking if you watched the soccer match last nite. So make an educated guess, and be willing to have a little laugh at yourself; sometimes I've guessed quite wrong.

I agree with previous recs for Michel Thomas. Great courses! He uses a trick, shared by most intro language courses, to get around conjugation. You learn to conjugate "would like" because you can then make sentences using the verb you actually care about in its infinitive form. So "I would like to see", "He would like to go", "Would you like to eat", and so on. Clearly this only goes so far, and isn't that helpful when a native speaker uses the normal conjugated verb instead of a circumlocution since you may not understand it.

Pimsleur is also a good starting course, but I wouldn't do all 3 levels since it goes kinda slow for the time you spend. The 1st level is enough, maybe the 2nd. The courses are very expensive, even on eBay, so if a local library doesn't have them I'd skip it. If you can find them I'd say start with Pimsleur before Michel Thomas.

To learn some vocabulary the online Memrise tool is effective, and free. For pronunciation practice take a look at the free FSI phonology courses you can find online. That plus a few key verbs and the trick above will let you express a fair amount. One book you might be interested in if you get really serious about learning is "Fluent Forever" by Wyner.

As for cultural understanding, for France this is well covered in the book "French or Foe" by Polly Platt. The 1st 3 chapters are an introduction for the visitor. I found this book very useful. I wonder if anyone can suggest an equivalent book for Italy?
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 08:31 AM
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With some words that I do not know in French, I merely pronounce say them in English with a French accent.>>

that's not so silly as it sounds, ssander - I don't know how many French words are the same [or almost] as english ones, but it must be pretty close to Spanish where there are said to be about 2000! That definitely made learning some Spanish for our recent trip to Cuba if not easy, certainly easier.

We managed ok when we got there but the best technique we found was the one adopted by the many Italian tourists who simply addressed the Cubans in Italian; the locals responded in Spanish and both groups seemed very happy with the arrangement!

<<As for cultural understanding, for France this is well covered in the book "French or Foe" by Polly Platt. The 1st 3 chapters are an introduction for the visitor. I found this book very useful. I wonder if anyone can suggest an equivalent book for Italy?>>

miket - I've never read Polly Prat [I might now!] so I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for but you might try Tim Parkes, who is a brit who married an Italian [his piece about the mistake that he made in his marriage vows is a hoot] and has written a lot about Italy. This is his first book, which I read quite a long time ago, but remember it as quite a good read:

http://tim-parks.com/non-fiction/italian-neighbours/

<<So make an educated guess, and be willing to have a little laugh at yourself; sometimes I've guessed quite wrong.>>

How true! sometimes I walk away thinking I've understood something and an hour later the light dawns! But the thing to remember is that it doesn't matter - you learn by making mistakes, not by speaking perfectly [which is probably unattainable unless you live there for years and years].

<<I think the handiest single phrase and learn it so it rolls of your tongue in each language is "I'm sorry I don't speak Italian/French, do you speak English?" said with a humble smile.>>

just don't learn to say it TOO well, else they won't believe you.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 08:32 AM
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<<BTW, for somebody who runs a business in France it should be known that 'Snob' has a negative connotation in french.>>

I assumed that NYCFoodSnob was being ironic.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 08:52 AM
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One of the most useful things to learn to say in any language is: speak more slowly please. Even if you know all the words the speed at which they come at you can be confusing.

I have found "mas despacio por favor" to be really useful in Spain. Definitely learn a similar phrase in Italian and french. I just use Spanish in Italy which works for me and my French is good enough that I can pick up what is being said to me - remembering that I am not discussing brain surgery or nuclear physics.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 09:21 AM
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'Piano' works well in italian, and 'moins vite' or 'plus lentement' in french.

Don't forget to use your hands....
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 09:46 AM
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<i> However, as mentioned above, what is not an option are the greetings. You MUST greet the person before you start speaking. You MUST also greet when you enter a small store even if no one seems to be looking at you. </i>

This is also true in Italy, although Italians are fairly tolerant of foreigners who don't follow their etiquette rules. (It's "Buon giorno" until about 4 PM and "Buona sera" thereafter.

Annhig, Spaniards often speak Spanish to Italians, and we understand them pretty well. My husband thought the same would work in reverse, and tried it in Spain, but no one ever understood what he meant. I studied Spanish quite a lot, but years of speaking Italian has ruined my Spanish. I begin a sentence in Spanish and midway I realize I've switched to Italian.

I second the recommendation of Tim Parks! I've read several of his books. He sometimes appears on Italian TV. I don't remember that about his wedding vows. I'll have to re-read the book. His book was written in the late 1980s, if I remember correctly, but there were several things in his book that I found uncannily true:

The prodigious number of cabbages in Italian vegetable gardens, and their complete absence from the Italian table. (I've learned that people do eat them, but never serve them to guest.)

The obsession with housekeeping shared by many Italian women; they sweep and wash their floors, dust all the little what-nots, and even iron their socks and underwear.

But the best was the insurance agent who repeated word for word the discourse that Tim's insurance agent did, complete with the little gesture that accompanied "Facciamo le corna!"
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 10:09 AM
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My French is very rudimentary, just one year at university to round out my study of Spanish. I've never found French people, in Paris or elsewhere, to be impatient with my French. Sometimes they've offered to speak English, but not with any pained attitude. People who don't speak English (or Italian) usually make every effort to communicate and to understand what I'm saying.

In fact, I've never met this stereotypical impatient, supercilious French person people talk about.

I find that reading everyday French is fairly easy if you know any other Romance language.
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Old Feb 20th, 2016, 11:19 AM
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Another cheer for Tim Parks' books. Polly Platt, not so much. There are things in her book that are just plain wrong (never bring yellow flowers when invited to dinner is one I seem to recall - read it a long time ago, but was not impressed with the accuracy).

My husband's French was pretty rudimentary when he first starated coming here, and I don't recall anyone every being less than patient and encouraging to him. Now he gets complimented on how much progress he's made with the language.
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