Non Parlo el Italiano

I think it came to me yesterday on the metro from the downtown terminal in Rome to Fiumicino Airport. Knowing Spanish, English, and Arabic I can communicate with about half of the world population. That's pretty good!

But being in Rome was different since, non parlo el Italiano. Parlo el Espaniolo, Inglese, y Arabo. (I have no idea about spelling in Italian, btw.) But it's amazing what you can do with fluency in Spanish and some basic Latin. Of course the Latin I know is either biblical or liturgical, and I know a few words of Italian from studying classical music. A curious and not always successful admixture of elements.

Within the first few hours I was learning/recalling basic pronouns (io sono=I am) and prepositions (dove=where), some of which were very close to Spanish.

I was very happy when the bishop of that illustrious city preached in Italian and I understood almost everything he said. Great excerpt: "During this season of Pentecost we must continuously invoke the Holy Spirit to help us to be bold witnesses to the Gospel." Amen!

Or this: "Build your families upon the firm foundation of the Gospel."

But alas, not all language is based around discussions of church history (the pope preached on Tertullian! One of my favorite church fathers), theology, and Christian worship. The greatest failure: Ordering food from a waitress who was not used to dealing with retarded tourists like us. It was painful. I mean, how do you say "glasses", as in 'We need glasses for the water?' I can muster up 'chalice' because it is a liturgical word...but glasses? Blank.

I will say that once you have three or four languages in your brain they kinda jumble together and it is very hard to stay on one only and I kept on slipping in Arabic words.

On the last leg of the flight from Istanbul to my home city I was sitting by a Russian lady and we were chatting in English. I told her of my love for languages and cultures. "Oh," she said, "Are you going to learn Russian next?"

Had been thinking of modern Hebrew actually, but why stop there?


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