I don’t know what it is about me that people think I speak way more languages than I do. Currently, I speak English. That’s pretty much it.
My French is adequate for reading the labels on the products at the Estee Lauder counter. My Italian permits me to pronounce pretty much anything on the menu at an Italian restaurant. Because my mother is bilingual and because I’ve spent most of my life in California and Texas, I’ve been around enough Spanish that I can generally follow what’s being said, but that’s it.
Now, I should note that between them, my parents speak seven languages. Me? I’m a great imitator, but haven’t really applied myself to actually learning languages. But, boy, can I do accents!
So why do people come up to me on the street and look befuddled when I don’t speak their language? Why does my boss insist I speak other languages? Why, when we travel, am I the one who’s always in charge of talking?
Note that these are rhetorical questions. I just think it’s funny that, no matter how much I insist that I don’t speak X language, there’s someone to insist, “No! You do!” as if mere belief in my own abilities is what’s lacking.
Heh, reminds me of my last trip to Italy - even though my husband studied Spanish, which I think is way more helpful regarding Italian than French is, he nominated me to be the speaker for us. I did muddle through with a couple good phrasebooks, mind you, but still - why me?
My mom is so good at accents – she learned to speak two languages, English and Tamil, since her parents were living in India when she was born, though she’s forgotten the Tamil – that it’s fooled people into believing she knew a lot more of a language (I’m thinking of Japanese, since she spent a summer in Japan) than she knew. A bit awkward all around, but I wish I had that talent.
Oh, I know what you mean. My mom’s big on languages, and she speaks Spanish, English, and very Spanish sounding Italian (i.e., she uses mostly Italian grammar, but can’t pronounce half the words with “ci” in them.) So naturally, people will point to me and say “The girl, she speaks too?” which I don’t.
I’m not good at speaking foreign languages at all, mostly because I end up miscongigating everything. I can understand some Spanish, and much more of Italian, but I can’t say much back. I’m also remembering less and less Spanish as I attempt to master Italian, which doesn’t help, considering I live in a 30% Hispanic area. Although when I visit my family in Sicily, I’m often mistaken for a native, which I suppose is a good thing.
What annoys me more is the people who think they can speak the language, but in reality can only say “buono, buono”, “por favor”, “Como stai?” or “Dov’e la bagna?” And even the last one’s pushing it. I just can’t stand it, because they’re just so convinced they can speak the language when they can’t even pronounce a few words right. Gr. Sometimes I think English is the easiest language to learn, simply because you don’t have to. If every country were as lax as us, I doubt the conversation barrier would be as acknowledged.
Heh, sounds like my father-in-law. Admittedly he can say much more than a few words, and he’s better at it than I am, but he’s so blusteringly confident about his ability that he’s hard to correct on errors. He kept introducing himself as being English, which (last we were there, at least) was less popular in Italy than being American. :smack: