Tuesday, October 18, 2005

vocabolario / vocabulary

I'm at a fun stage of speaking a foreign language in which people think I'm really brilliant. It's come from months of practice and of having all the rules of how to translate a word from English to Italian without ever having seen or heard it in Italian before. It's fairly simple to recognize how to change an ending like -ly on an adverb to -mente, or -ity to -ita' on a noun, but to do it rapidly in conversation without breaking your pace is great. Another important trick is to reacognize which English words probably come from Latin roots and extrapolate what the most likely Italian word would be.
Marta came into my room the other day to show me a concinella, a ladybug, she'd found in her room. My response was "Oh cute, why don't you put it on our plants in the window, they're piene di afidi, full of aphids. She sort of cocked her head and laughed, but I didn't think much of it and turned back to work contented that the little ladybug would get fat eating up all my aphids.
Later she recounted the story to friends, "How on earth do you know the Italian word for those bugs?". "I just guessed."
Same goes for conspiracy, restitution, tactile, recontextualization, obstacle, all from conversations in the past day.
Alvise said of my vocabulary, it is much larger than what I normally use in conversation, but that I occasionally insert these words into phrases that just aren't quite mine yet. The usage is correct, but I sound like someone who has read more widely than they've experienced spoken language.
Va bene. In the meantime, I'll keep talking.


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