Miscommunications are inevitable here. Whether it’s not knowing the language, mishearing an accent, misinterpreting a gesture or not knowing the norm, communications are frequently interpreted the wrong way. These are some funny little miscommunications I’ve encountered so far in Florence:
Volete che ad aprire per voi?
When buying a bottle of vino rosso on my way back home, the cashier asked me a question I absolutely did not understand. I looked at him with confusion–a classic Eli Manning-style deer-in-the-headlights look glued on my face for a drawn-out moment. Figuring I am not retarded but rather foreign, he gestured the motion of opening a bottle, asking “Open?” It blew my mind that they would open the bottle for you and let you carry it down the street that way, so I still had that damn deer-in-the-headlights look expression.
Yesterday in my Italian class, I learned that words like “Americano/a” should end in “o” for males and “a” for females.
I have told several people that I am an American boy.
YOU WANT TO DANCE?!
This happened last week, when attempting to converse with a local who, well, fancied me. (He knew VERY little English, I knew pretty much NO Italian, and we both knew poco espanol).
We managed to get onto the topic of music at some point, though. I tried to ask him what kind of music he likes. There was dance music playing, so I tried to ask if he likes dance music, since I could easily gesture in the room to show “dance music.” He suddenly got very excited, apparently thinking that I was asking him if he wants to dance with me–right there in the bar. “Aaaaaah, Lisabetta, si, SI! Vamos bailar!” he exclaimed.
“NOOOOO! Noooo, nooooo. Mi dispiace!” I laughed while effusively waving my arms to signal “no.” He realized it was a miscommunication and asked me “PORQUE?! PORQUE?!” I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain, but at least I could clearly tell him NO to clear up that miscommunication.
“That is danger.”
Also from the same night and conversation as mentioned above… My friends took a picture of Luca and I sitting together. When they showed us, his response was, “That is danger.” The girls and I all burst into laughter. Immediately, he recognized that his limited English vocabulary uttered the wrong word. “No, no! That is GOOD. Is GOOD,” he clarified. His diction mistake made me feel better about my own conversational mistakes.
Learning about hobbits in History class
I really enjoy the topic of my History course, The Social World of Renaissance Italy, and the quirky professor as well. He does have a rather thick Italian accent, though, so lots of attention is required to listen closely.
The professor’s first lecture was about the different main groups of people who lived during the Middle Ages (peasants, citizens, merchants, etc). But at one point he started talking about how the hobbits lived–how they lived humble, quiet lives of simplicity and such. It was like I was listening to Biblo Baggins’ prologue on concerning the nature of hobbits.
HOBBITS?! I thought. No, he MUST’VE said something else. But then the professor said it again…and again…..and again. The hobbits of the land did this, these hobbits did that, etc etc. I sat there probably with my jaw half-dropped in awe, and eyes full of wonder. IS THIS GUY LOONY? DID I MISS OUT ON KNOWING THAT TOLKIEN WAS INDEED WRITING NONFICTION, AND MIDDLE AGES = MIDDLE EARTH? I was at the edge of my seat. The professor must’ve thought that he was absolutely fascinating.
This went on for approximately 15 minutes.
Finally, while saying “hobbits” again, he wrote “inhabitants.” What an accent!