14 October 2007

I was in England last week

I went to England last week and again I noticed how my grasp of the lingua inglese is becoming stranger and stranger. I don't think it's right to say it's getting worse, because I still read lots in English and speak - mainly on the phone - in English. But I find that as I speak more Italian, I end up forming phrases in an Italian kind of way when speaking English. This is due to hearing Italians speak English too. For example I'll say "I was in England" that's not right is it? An English person would say "I went to England" not "I was in England". Other phrases I find myself saying in English are "In this period" instead of "lately" or "recently", this is because Italians say "in questo periodo."

I find myself having to concentrate more when I'm speaking English (with mother tongues) so that I don't sound too much like I'm from another planet. I wonder if this happens to truly bilingual people. You know, the ones who are bilingual practically from birth.

Apart from this little brain teaser I do consider it a great ability to be able to speak two languages fluently.

Another thing I noticed on this England trip is how I slip into both Italian and UK lifestyles effortlessly these days. I don't usually look forward to uprooting myself, mainly due to laziness, but once I get there it's like I never left. I go from having an espresso here to a tea (con latte) there, or from shopping all day there to having a siesta in the afternoon here no probs.

7 comments:

Pola said...

I find it hard to stay between two languages, too.
If you are into one, then it's ok. But if you have to sweitch completely it gets you tired easily.
Sometimes I build a phrase the English way because I have read about that topic in English and never had the chance to translate it.

Roam2Rome said...

I've been completely bilingual (English & Spanish) since I was a child, and when I transition from one language to another, the first few minutes I have to concentrate, then it becomes second nature, again :)

Isn't it great having multiple countries and languages? Such a joy :)

There are challenges to this, but it's nice to remember the joys, too :)

J.Doe said...

I am a native English speaker (American) and am much, much stronger in English but occasionally I will literally translate an Italian phrase into English and it sounds very awkward. It's wierd! Also the English taught in Italy is British English and I was an English teacher while there so occasionally I will use British English instead of American English (for example telling people to get in "queue" instead of in "line",). I also used to be a good speller in American English, but now I can't do that either.
I mix everything up.

I just need help.

Leanne said...

When I began to learn Italian last year (well I am still learning...how I wish I could be fluent!) I was concentrating soooo hard to learn Italian that when I spoke English my brain couldn't cope and I could not remember the most simple words.

I am so angry that I did not learn Italian as a child. Why I do not know since I am Italian!

Alex said...

I grew up speaking four languages from the very beginning. I must admit that it was very cool to be able to shift easily. However, I've notice since growing older that I no longer make the switch as quickly. It now takes me a day or two.
The wonderful thing has been that I do learn languages fairly easily. Right now I'm working on Arabic.

pat said...

I agree with roamtorome. F.Y.I., a lot of Italianisms and neapolitanism made there way into sectors of New York English from people, immigrants and their children, translating phrases directly into English, e.g, "We goin', yes or no?" In the States, at Least N.Y., you could say I was in England, it would sound no different.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I am amazed at how quickly the mind adapts. My mom lived in the U.S. for over 40 years and rarely if ever spoke French. My parents moved back to St. Marten and she is speaking French fluently again.

Do your British friends notice your Italianism?