Funny miscommunications

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.

Sono Americano.

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.


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!

10 comments on “Funny miscommunications

  1. Mom says:

    Hobbits. 🙂 Too funny.

  2. Nana and Grandpa says:

    Elizabeth, We are enjoying your experiences in Italy so much that we feel we are there with you. We thought the Hobbits segment was so funny as was the garbage can episode too. You should write a book. You know how much I hate computers (Nana) but I’m getting to like this. My one finger typing takes forever but by the time you come home I’ll be a whiz at it.We are so happy that you adjusted fast and having fun too. Love Nana and Grandpa

    • Liz J says:

      Hi Nana & Grandpa–What a wonderful surprise! I am glad that you are enjoying the stories and feel like you are a part of it. It’s amazing how much I feel a presence of so many of our family values and traditions here. While you’re getting quicker with typing, I’ll be getting better with cooking in my Food of Italy class, and seriously cannot wait to cook you something! Tonight I made tiramisu 😀

  3. Aunt Marianne says:

    Wow! I’m impressed! Nana and Grandpa replied! Amazing! How cute is that? Elizabeth, I feel that I am in Italy with you as well. Keep the blogs coming! We are loving them!
    Love, Aunt Marianne

  4. Aunt Marianne says:

    Elizabeth, I sent you a special link for your professor. It will help him understand!

  5. […] kidding.” I was overcome with disbelief. It was only a few hours ago when I had casually used the “that is danger” remark that we often jokingly use in reference to our initial conve…. We have spent months joking about the unlikely idea of just happening to run into Luca I in the […]

  6. SEO says:

    Whats up! I simply wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the great data you may have here on this post.
    I will likely be coming again to your weblog for
    extra soon.

Leave a Reply to Nana and Grandpa Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s