Monday, 27 October 2008

Shoo Japanese, Don't Bother Me!

My Italian must sound truly alien to native Italians for reasons other than the fact that it is as poor as poor can get. Probably the funniest thing that I do that other English natives do not is unconsciously fall back onto Japanese whenever a word escapes me in Italian.

These words are usually not nouns or verbs, but "fillers" -- those drawn out utterances we use when we are thinking up a response (ummmm!) or when we attempt to contradict someone's opinion (yeah i know but...!) or when we are simply trying to fill an awkward silence (well...).

Here is an example conversation I might have with Emanuele!

(In Italian with highlighted Japanese fillers.)
E: So, did you have a nice day?
H: Maa...it was good.
E: That's good. Are you going somewhere tonight?
H: Nnn sou sou, uh I mean, si si...yes...ahh...what was the question??

I find it most amusing how the brain automatically seems to resort to the second language when words and expressions in the third are inaccessable. And it is even more amusing that this happens despite the fact that Japanese and Italian are like chalk and cheese, while English and Italian are literally long lost cousins.

Perhaps Italian should have been my first opponent in the ring...life would have been so much easier!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

More like cheese and Yakisoba he he !!

Mamma Mia said...

Very funny, I can imagine you doing this because you do it in English sometimes.
When you come back here you will probably be throwing in some Italian words in your sentences.

Mohamed Idris said...

I read about this in an Introdutcion to Psycholinguistics book by Danny Steingberg. It's in the last part of the last chapter of the book. The author speculates that perhaps all foreign languages are tossed into the same partition in our brain.

Maybe this is what happened to you.

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