One step forward, two steps back! (Or, the joys of language learning…)

One step forward…

My computer has been playing up since Christmas, so finally I decided it was time to take it to the Apple store for some TLC. More specifically, the Palermo Apple store. I don’t have much, if any, computer-related vocabulary in Italian… I can also be rather lazy. This means I didn’t get round to looking up useful verbs (e.g. shutdown, reboot etc.) before going to the store. During the 25 minute walk to get to the store, I did however at least think about how to paraphrase the afore-mentioned verbs and about quite what I was going to say. I will admit, part of me thought that I might find someone with a bit of English working there (as I had been lucky enough to do at the TIM phone shop soon after arriving here the first time around with only about one ciao and one grazie to rub together!) but that wasn’t to be…

Turns out the Apple store here works differently from the ones I’ve been to in England too – there was nobody waiting to greet me, ask what I wanted and direct me to the relevant place, so I had to find someone, explain why I was there, ask what I should do, get sent to the relevant place and find crowds of people all waiting for various things. Cue explaining, again, what I wanted and getting more specific re-direction. Then I finally spoke to one of the “Geniuses”, only happily enough they don’t go by that rather cringeworthy name here! What followed was a textbook example of negotiation of meaning. I tried to explain what was wrong with my laptop and he translated it into Italian computer language. This required gestures, paraphrases and a slightly pleading expression in my eyes. What was good was when he dutifully provided a verb and I could then use that verb for the next part of the explanation! I was lucky that he was patient and didn’t seem unduly perturbed by my ignorance! 🙂 I felt quite satisfied when I left the store, armed with what I went in for – instructions for how to fix my laptop.

Two steps back…

Contrast the above rather satisfactory exchange with me on Friday afternoon, talking (or attempting to talk might be a better description) with an Italian colleague, and conjugating the verb I wanted to use in the first person instead of in the second person – i.e. the equivalent of Ok, so I’ll give it to me later instead of Ok, so you’ll give it to me later. I heard the mistake as soon as I said it, and self-corrected, but oh my lordy lordy could I make a more basic mistake?! I know how to conjugate dare in second person simple future, I know what I had wanted to say, but it just came out wrong… Was I tired? Was it just a clumsy moment? Does there have to be a reason? Who can say…


C’est la vie! Che ci vuoi fare. Unfortunately my self-study has dwindled to almost nothing and my Italian course that I did is receding into history. (Though I do still make an effort to monitor my use of pronouns, using what I learnt that week to use them correctly!) I’d love to be amazing at Italian, but it’s not going to happen – so I might as well just enjoy the fact that I *can* get by independently here and not worry too much about all the mistakes I make along the way. 🙂 Also, being able to paraphrase/circumlocute is a very handy strategy!

3 thoughts on “One step forward, two steps back! (Or, the joys of language learning…)

  1. I feel for you. I spent eight hours of my day fixing my Macbook Pro, which had become super sluggish and had a few photo album to other application incompatibilities surface after I “upgraded–yeah, right” to the new OS X – Yosemite. Ugh. I had to do a full backup, take everything back to factory conditions, restore all my files and software. So now I’m a day behind on all my computer work. But at least I didn’t have to get help in Italian!

  2. All part of the learning process, and I don’t know about you, but I make basic mistakes in English sometimes too. Focus on what you can do, and learnf from the mistakes you make, and life will be good 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying your holiday, and I’ll see you in a couple of days! x

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