Italian Class

The English classes started again this term but, so far, CC and I are off to a rather slow start.

Most of her group are taking late holidays so the most ‘students’ she has had amounts to two so far: last week no-one turned up!

My beginners’ group now consists of one lady and two 12 year old girls from last year plus three adult newcomers and two teenagers.

The interesting news is that there’s a new class at the library this term – Italian – given by an Italian photographer who exhibited his wonderful bird pictures in the Summer.

It’s years since I studied Italian and I have to admit I’ve forgotten most of it, so I thought it would be a good idea to go along.

There have been three classes so far (I missed last week because of a bad cold) but we still haven’t progressed beyond going through the pronounciation rules. At least Italian is an entirely phonetic language where every letter or combination has the same sound, but following Guido’s explanations in French with a heavy Italian accent is not always easy and when he writes the French version of the Italian sounds (thanks to his wife) they mean nothing to me.

In the two lessons I’ve attended I’ve probably spoken no more than six isolated words but I will keep going in the hopes that there might be a conversation soon.

In conclusion, I wonder if you have come across this poem which highlights the difficulties of pronouncing English  for foreign learners:

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, it’s said like bed, not bead-
for goodness’ sake don’t call it ‘deed’!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth, or brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart-
Come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I’ll not learn how ’til the day I die.


5 Responses to “Italian Class”

  1. Little old me Says:

    I love that poem, it’s so funny and true

  2. Keith Says:

    Wot abowt:

    ‘Lead’, as in dog-lead, and ‘lead’ as in metal?
    ‘Read’, as in “I read a book” (I REED a book),or “I read a book” (I RED a book)?

    My son-in-law, who is French, said that English was harder to learn than Japanese. He should know, he speaks it fluently. Ah So!

    • sablonneuse Says:

      Have to agree that English is not easy to learn as a foreign language. If your son-in-law finds Japanese easier perhaps that means that each symbol only has one sound/meaning and therefore – once you’ve managed to master all of them – it’s relatively plain sailing?

  3. bretonne Says:

    An English friend who speaks good French was baffled by something our gym animatrice said: sans combré. Try : s’encombrer I suggested, and it made sense in context. Not to mention Maires and mères and mer of course. I gather Dictée is a nightmare for the French too.

    • sablonneuse Says:

      Yes, I suppose lots of endings that sound the same are spelled differently. To be good at dictée you have have to master French grammar I suppose.

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