will language be a barrier in italy???

Old May 29th, 2002, 06:57 AM
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will language be a barrier in italy???

hello! i'm going to italy soon and i do not speak any italian. i'm wondering if this is going to be a problem. i've spoke to some people and they have said that i'll be fine but i decided to check fodors just to get some more opinions. are there any key phrases that have been helpful to know? i would greatly appreciate any suggestions.
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:01 AM
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I've been to Italy twice and have found that virtually everyone you're likely to come in contact with will speak at least some English.<BR><BR>Of course, Italians do respond well if you know a few pleasantries...<BR>Buon giorno--Good day/hello<BR>Grazie--Thank you<BR>Ciao--goodbye
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:08 AM
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I don't mean to be rude but I don't understand how people can assume that they can go to another country and get away without knowing any of the other language. Yes many speak english but you really should be making the effort to learn some of the language before you go (you should have started months ago) Before I went to Italy I bought a few CD's for the car so I could get by and not rely on just English. People were thrilled that I made the effort and I felt good about myself that I wasn't being the typical ugly american tourist who expects everyone to speak english to me. If you are in the cities they speak more english but if you go to the countryside it is spoken less often. Go to your library and check out the tapes or cd's and start learning! The best phrase I learned was "that was an excellent meal" I don't know how to spell it or I would type it here for you. Good luck
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:09 AM
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When we went to the Southern part of Italy, English was rare. They love it if you will pull out a phrase book and at least try though. North of Rome was easy, as was much of Rome. Lots of english speaking folks in Sorrento also. South of Sorrento.....we didn't find much English.
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:12 AM
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I just got back from Italy and found that you should not rely on the locals to speak English. Many people in the cities and up north can speak it, but many do not want to. Try out some Italian and you may insult them even more my butchering their language that they will speak English to you!
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:13 AM
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I think that you have already answered your own question. You are the barrier, right?<BR><BR>What would be your answer if an Italian came to Wyoming and asked you - - in Italian - - <BR><BR>"Trover&ograve; una barriera linguistica qui nel Wyoming?" <BR><BR>Would you say that this person has a language barrier? or that Wyoming has one?<BR><BR>You can do it - - ten words a day, every day from now until you return home.<BR><BR>Here's a good place to start: www.travlang.com<BR><BR>Best wishes,<BR><BR>Rex<BR>
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:13 AM
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If you start the conversation with "Do you speak English? Most Italians (like the French or Germans) will answer no.<BR><BR>However, if you start with "Bongiorno, parlate englesi?" Most will make an honest effort at communicating with you.<BR>Do try to learn a few phrases.
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:15 AM
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Yes, I'd learn some basics like please and thank you and good morning. It's a good idea to say buon giorno when entering a shop or before buying a ticket. If you just learn a few polite phrases including "I'm sorry I don't speak Italian, do you speak English", it will help.<BR>Think how you would react if somebody just stopped you in the street, started speaking Italian to you and looked annoyed because you couldn't understand them.
Old May 29th, 2002, 07:30 AM
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I depends WHERE in Italy. For example, in Florence you could easily get along speaking nothing but English (except in the train station, which is a branch office of hell, where even speaking Italian wouldn't help you anyway). In Umbria and in the countryside in Tuscany, and in major tourist areas of Sicily, you could get by with English, if you are willing to ask a few simple questions in Italian (as I would ask a few questions in Greek in Greece, even though I don't "know" Greek), and if you are flexible and not in a hurry to get answers instantly. In small towns and the countryside in Sicily, and in the less visited regions of the south, you could probably soend entire week and never meet anyone who knows more English than you know Italian, so in those places, not knowing Italian WOULD be a problem if you're traveling independently. (However, in those places older people might know French, so you might use that as an alternative language in a pinch.)
Old May 29th, 2002, 10:53 AM
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Old May 29th, 2002, 12:26 PM
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Hi Kate,<BR>We just returned from our first trip to Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence, and Cinque Terre). I think you really should try to learn some basic conversational phrases and terms - it helps to break the ice and get what you're asking for or about. I found that if you start out in Italian, they will quickly switch to English to help you out. I think Italians do appreciate even somewhat clumsy attempts to speak their language, they just don't always have the time to spend to let you practice on them! <BR><BR>I think many hotel owners and front desk staff will speak fairly good English, as do many waiters and shopkeepers in the more touristed-areas. However, the further you get off the beaten path, (and in some cases, "off the beaten path" is only a few blocks) the less English is spoken. You might consider carrying a small transator book with you to help with more specific questions.<BR><BR>Just don't do what we saw one lady do in Rome - we were browsing in a small clock/ceramics shop near the Pantheon after having exchanged greetings and small talk with the owner who was working at his desk. Then an lady stormed into this small shop, her voice booming "Where's the Pantheon??? Is it this way???" He pointed and said "Yes." Out the door she went without so much as a "Grazie," "Thank you," or acknowledgement of any kind. My wife and I were truly embarrassed, but the shopkeepers' reaction told me that he was used to it, unfortunately. <BR><BR>Bottom line, I guess, is that if you can be polite in Italian, great, if not, just be polite in English.
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