Saturday, October 7, 2006

It's not a good sign when you're having language issues eleven days before you've even left for foreign lands. Five years of Italian classes and I'm pretty much going to be limited to saying Non parlo Italiano, Parli Inglese?, and Dov'รจ il bagno? Probably the three most useful phrases, but I spent a lot of time in that Italian class and it's sad now to think about how that time was no more productive than five minutes with a Berlitz dictionary.

But that's not the problem. The problem is that I'm writing to my Milan relatives in English — and their English is certainly better than my Italian — and I'm still running into weird translation issues. I figure that I'll do like they do in Canada, where everything's passed through the same bi-lingual Rosetta Stone, writing out my thoughts in English and then passing them to Google's translator. (Now in Arabic! Great news: our nation's security is no longer compromised after the Army discharged some of its Arabic linguists because they're homosexual.) It's too bad that the Google translator is — I don't want to call it stupid — but let's just say it's no better at parsing English syntax and understanding English semantics than, well, your average American. Sucks that they no longer teach grammar in schools...

To please Mister Computer, and also cause it's not like I'm gonna blame my Italian relatives if htey get lost among the prepositional objects and subjunctive moods of idiomatic English, I'm spending hours dumbing down my language and never have I appreciated the power of the subordinate clause so much. Well, maybe when I was taking Latin, but then only cause it was kicking my ass. And now it's a habit, and I can see myself in an Italian conversation, saying three words and then taking a whole minute to think, "What's the correct second person pluperfect conditional conjugation of pretere?"