Learning the Italian Language

Paul Morrone |

By Thomas Morrone, CFP®, CPA

I grew up in an Italian household. My grandparents spoke little English so when the family was together, my aunts and uncles would speak Italian. Even in our own home, if my parents did not want us to understand what they were talking about, they would converse in Italian. I will always remember certain phrases that my parents extensively used but never knew their translation until decades later. My childhood environment was perfect for learning Italian but never thought much of it. When I went to High School, I had to choose a language as one of my courses. If I was smart, I should have chosen Italian but instead I selected Spanish. Why Spanish you ask? Well, the Italian teacher was a heavy set, bald, older man. The Spanish teacher was a young blonde hottie. Need I say more. At the time, I let testosterone make my course selection, not my brain and have always regretted that decision.

Both Paul and Kelly took Italian throughout their school years and Kelly continued with the language through 4 years of college as well. She became fluent in Italian and spent three months in Florence working in the business environment and speaking the language. This was not a study abroad program, this was a working internship where she had to converse in Italian in a business environment. This is quite different from cursing and ordering food. On one of our prior trips to Italy, Kelly and Dave joined us for a portion of the adventure. There were times that Kelly’s Italian skills came in handy and helped us get through three or four situations. I always remembered that and was impressed how she took over the conversation and that has been my inspiration to finally take my heritage seriously, other than for the food and learn the language. The additional motivating circumstance was our upcoming trip to Italy. This will be our third trip to the magical country. In our prior excursions, we went to the towns and cities that are the more touristy destinations. In these touristy locations, most people speak English, so communication was never a problem. This upcoming trip is more about going to small villages where English is not as common, and you are truly in their world, in their culture where they speak their language. With all that in mind, I had to learn Italian.

I had about 4 months before our trip and my first thought was Kelly for guidance and direction. She introduced me to an Ap called Duolingo, which is a self-guided, internet based, language teacher. I immediately downloaded the Ap and jumped in with both feet. Today marks my 117th day in a row that I used the Duolingo Ap for at least an hour each day. It has been a challenge to say the least and I have learned so much but still have a long way to go. For those that speak more than one language, they have my utmost respect. My confidence level has increased dramatically in my 117 days and hopefully I can stand up to the challenge and communicate in Italian as needed, when needed. Reading in Italian is the easiest for me. Sometimes, seeing the words and being able to think about them and absorbing the entire context brings it all together. Listening to someone speak and trying to translate is the hardest due to how fast the words come at you. One expression I quickly learned is, “Parla piu lentamente, per favore” the translation being, “speak more slowly please”. Something tells me I will be saying that expression often. 

When we return, there will be newsletters to let you know about our excursions deep into the bowels of Italy. There will be stories about scenery, the wine and of course the food. Hopefully, I will be able to brag about how my language skills helped us navigate through a situation. 

Finno alla prossima presa di Tom……………… (Until the Next Tom’s Take) !

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