I didn’t have my glasses on so I could only read the big stuff, which in this case was “Cane Parking”. So I said, out loud (embarrassing, I know), “Wait, why would anyone want to park their cane”? Upon closer examination I realized that there was a dog on the picture. When I returned home to my translator, apparently Cane means dog. This makes a bit more sense and I hope that I get to see a cane parked outside the store one day soon!
So the only language that I speak fluently is English. I have taken four years of French but that ended in my sophomore year of high school so it’s a bit rusty and I have a limited vocabulary of Spanish words and phrases . After about a week and a half of intensive Italian language classes, I have come to the realization that the Italian language has many similarities to both French and Spanish. It is often easy and natural for me to respond in French to something in class because I feel like I am back in French class with the phrases I am being asked. However, Italian is a very unique language and has many words and phrases that make it unique and different from English, French, or Spanish. When trying to grocery shop, or just shop in general, I try to make connections to words that look familiar. Unfortunately, not every word I recognize means what I think it means. If I was to actually take some of the words literally and from the connections I have drawn, I would have thought the toilet paper that I purchased was deathly toilet paper (even though it has a cute, little, fluffy dog on it!).
Because the phrase says the word “Morbida”, I instantly connected that with the English word “morbid” and “death”. I was pretty positive there was nothing morbid about the cute dog playing with the roll of paper, so I bought the toilet paper anyways. And, because I am sure you are on the edge of your seats wondering if it really was toilet paper: it was! According to my translator, morbida, in Italian, means soft.
Another strange instance that just occurred on my journey to the store about thirty minutes ago was my quest for a drink. I was sick of just drinking water….and wine, I guess. I approached the drink case and saw that they were selling “The”.
I had no clue what “The” was because I thought that “Te” meant Tea. As it turns out, “The” in Italian means “Tea” as well. I am having regrets over not buying this cold tea now that I actually know what it means. Good thing I am here for another seven weeks so I will have some time to go back and buy some!
This next mistake (on my part), actually happened and I was legitimately, confused and surprised. Last week we were booking our train tickets to Florence for the weekend. I was the one that was putting it all together for my group. I typed in on the booking website that I needed a ticket to Florence from Rome. I got all the way through the booking process and was double checking my order before I pressed submit for payment and the ticket read “To Firenze”. You can ask anyone that I traveled with that I had a little freak out and exclaimed “Oh no! This is wrong, it says we are going to Firenze, not Florence!” As embarrassing as this story is to tell, it is a great example of how things can be taken differently. To me, I thought Firenze might be “friends” or the “city of fire”… who knows. It just did not sound like Florence to me. It is actually quite ironic that I didn’t know because right above me in my kitchen was a poster with all the sites of Firenze on it….
Needless to say, I have been made fun of at least once everyday since I said this. Firenze means Florence.
Another instance where confusion arose was when we visited Florence last weekend. We were told by many people that we must visit Ponte Vecchio. On our second day there we were off to find Ponte Vecchio….. We thought it was a point. Woops. Apparently it is a bridge. We soon found that out and it turned out to be the best bridge I have ever walked over! So much shopping! Ponte means Bridge.
There have been several more instances where I translate a word incorrectly because it sounds so similar to a word I know in English. Here are some examples:
Grassi does not mean grass. It means Fat. There was no grass in my mayonnaise.
Latte Fresco is not a fresh latte. It actually means milk.
Cornetti is not a mini-corn. It is a pastry, usually a croissant type thing.
Burro means butter, not to actually burrow. That has nothing to do with it.
Ananas are not bananas as one may assume. Ananas are actually Pineapples.
Melegrano, as it says on my hand soap, is not a melon flavor. Melegrano is Pomegranite.
Mela does not mean Melon, it means Apple.
Zucherro, as much as it sounds like Zuchinni, means Sugar.
Another part of this assignment was to come across a statement or phrase that means something completely different when translated to English. Unfortunately, I did not come across any of these in the three weeks that I have spent here. The one word that I did, and I think everyone else did as well, come across was ALLORA. Our Italian teacher says it all the time and I overhear Italians use it on the phone. Allora is just a filler word and has no translation to English. It also happens to be my favorite Italian word 🙂