Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dropping The School or How To Fight With Your Spouse

            Dropping The School or How To Fight With Your Spouse

I felt a great relief when I dropped the Italian Language School.  I needed to get back to my “old” life, pondering things like hair loss, sagging skin, shaky fingers and loss of memory.  The daily surrender to stress, being disgusted with their negative techniques and having too little  “conversation” practice  in class had taken its toll on my mental state.    The school was used mainly by students who wanted to enroll in the University.  Most of the European students had already had one or two years of Italian in their high school.  The school let them enroll in the beginner class, causing true beginners like me to feel always behind.   There were days when, after class, I just went out and sat in the piazza, feeling overwhelmed.  I wanted to learn but there were too many students who already new a huge amount of Italian.   I needed more daily conversation practice, which the school did not push.  It’s important to “hear” Italian and know what was being said.  It’s important to be able to carry on a basic conversation with people you meet during the day.  

I already had a problem as my hearing is not as sharp due to the fact that for some years I taught, one hour every day,  a marching band drum line.  Those drums were loud, and many days I suffered from headaches.  My hearing is now a bit  diminished and I struggle to hear consonants when listening.  (Yes, my wife thinks I am a poor listener…..)

We do not speak Italian at home, my wife needs to speak fluent English  for her job.   So I was not getting conversation practice there, either.   I taught her a few things along the way.  You would think she is from Iowa, but with an Italian accent.  The only time she has trouble with English is when we watch a British movie.  But, hey I sometimes wonder, are they speaking English?.

The day I left the school  I was walking past a newsstand and I noticed a small booklet entitled TEX.  Inside I found a Red Ryder cowboy named Tex,  (older readers might remember Red Ryder from the funny papers on Sunday).    This Italian cowboy’s adventures were chronicled in a monthly booklet.  As I flipped through the pages I discovered that all of the story was in “conversation”.   Tex, also known to the Indians as Aquila della Notte,  talks to his pard, Kit Carson (only the name is similar), his Indian pal, his son, and others throughout the story.   All this is in complete conversation with cartoons which would help me understand what they were saying giving my dictionary a rest.  I took the book home to see if I could gain some conversation practice through some cowboy adventures.  

After reading several months of Tex’s exploits I learned some things.  The funniest is that Italian cartoonists draw cowboys mounting  their horses on the right side of the horse (whoops).   Maybe they  are British drivers :-)   Tex and his cahoots shoot bad guys using only a couple of bullets, Tex always knows what bad guys are planning, and he always wins unfair fights.  Good Guys never miss with lever action rifles, and Tex never wastes ammunition when a good bonk on the head will do the trick.  Tex never utters swear words that kids should not know, and lastly, Tex never pockets, for himself, any of the recovered stolen cash, gold, or goods. 

While reading Tex I  would add useable terms to a spiral notebook I keep.   I think I am on spiral number 5.    There’s a number of these books on my shelf, and I still pick up a new one once in awhile.  After I have read the books I pass them onto my wife’s father, who is a nut about cowboys, Indians and the old West.   Shamefully, he knows more about Geronimo, Cochise and Native Americans that I do.  (Sergio, as a kid, left school to work at the age of 11)

Have a cappuccino while you study
A typical conversation between Tex and Kit while riding their horses:

Rallenta, Tex!  Cosi faremo sfiancare i cavalli!
Slow down!  So we will tire the horses!
Non c’è tempo da perdere!
There isn’t time to lose!

and later…
Siamo arrivati Troppo tardi!
We have arrived too late!

Of course there are useless phrases that I could never use….
Corna Di Mille Bisonti! 
horns of a thousand bisons!  (There is no bad language in Tex)

In a bar….
Un giro per tutti!  Offro Io.
A round for everybody!  I am buying
then a guy asks…
Che ti  succede?  Hai ereditato una fortuna?
What happened to you?  You inherited a fortune?

You can see how I could use this for a study.  There was no written story line, it was one panel after another of conversation.  The book I am reading, number 667 has 141 pages loaded with conversation.  I believe that there is a way to make money, using this type of technique to help people learn.  There are all types of learners.  (During WWII Disney was contracted to make cartoons for training soldiers.)  

I was joking with my wife that since there are a lot of phrases from Tex that are used in his personal confrontations, It might make a few readers smile to list some with translation.  I will start you off by using a quote by President George W. Bush when meeting the Italian Prime Minister…..“Amigo! Amigo!”


Sei in un mare di guai   You are in a sea of trouble
strana coincidenza strange coincidence
la faccenda               the fact
di niente             it’s nothing
stia mentendo   be lying
poi di uno               more than one
per caso                         by accident
apri bene le orecchie open your eyes
lo ha fatto apposta!                  you did it on purpose!
prima a poi                         sooner of later
lascia perdere                   let it go
non costringermi a battermi con te    don’t force me to fight with you


Home late again?              Sei di nuovo in ritardo?
Dove sei stata?                     Where were you?              
non mi tiro certo indietro          I won’t back off
La casa e’ in disordine!            The house is a mess! 
e’ macchiato                            it is stained, dirty
Cosa c è nella tua tasca?      What is this in your pocket?
tu guardi troppo golf           You watch too much golf

                      Uh Oh!           

colpevoli                          guilty
tu meriti di morire!             you deserve to die!
cosa ne hai fatto dei corpi?    what did you do with the corpse?
ricomminciamo                    Let’s start over
e’ stata dura                      it has been hard
nel rimorso                    in remorse
 mi dispiace                      I am sorry
 perdonami                         forgive me
 ti perdono                           I forgive you
versa da bere                         pour the drinks
e ora che cosa facciamo?         now what do we do?

Now you have learned some Italian, and I do hope you will learn and use few phrases,  but unless you are in the mafia you won’t need to use all of them.  If you have taken Spanish you might find Italian similar.  Italians  usually understand Spanish when spoken in a movie.  Maybe you will also find it understandable.   Buona Fortuna!


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