When foreigners try to speak Italian …

I was reading Nancy’s post and it amused me as I’d have to agree with her observance. Through my experience in my early years of living here, when I speak to an Italian, there is a big probability that two things will happen.

  • They would try to reply back to English even when I am speaking in Italian. I find it sort of charming that while I’m expressing myself in one language, and they respond in another.
  • They would pretend not to hear / understand me even when I know that I’m speaking well enough. Sometimes I think that they are flabbergasted that a non Italian looking person could speak Italian. To which I try to keep cool, smile, and repeat my request a little louder 🙂


Sometimes when I go jogging, there would be people who stop me to ask for directions. Since I’m familiar with the area, I’d usually be able to answer them. Turn at the corner! Then go straight! And then when you see the market, turn right!

But there was one time when an elderly couple who slowed down their car as I went jogging. I sensed they wanted to ask for directions, so I slowed down too and took out my earphone and anticipated the question when I heard the old lady whispering to her partner, “Don’t ask her! She’s a straniera! She wouldn’t know!

Feeling a little stung, I speeded up and ran away. Yeah I can be such a meanie. When I think back about it, I could have helped them anyway and impress them at how much a straniera could know.

Interestingly ehough though, nowadays (as in the beginning of this year) the more I speak Italian, the lesser that I get the two reactions that I mentioned above. Either my Italian has improved (not to say that it is perfect) and I’ve gone more assertive or I just don’t care anymore. Yes. Yes. I look different. Deal with it.

I used to be all, “Oh, I haven’t mastered this language yet, I’m not ready and I’m too shy to speak it” The thing is, I think that we will never ever be 100% ready so might as well start now and grow a thick skin.

Not only have I picked up the language, I picked up the mannerisms too. I strut, I overtake, I gesticulate, sometimes I curse. Either way, I think I’m slowly turning into a Roman.

5 Replies to “When foreigners try to speak Italian …”

  1. Usually they speak Italian back to me but in a very clear and sometimes slow manner. Almost all the time, someone will tell me I speak fluently and ask how long I’ve been here.. and I give a compliment to my personal Italian tutor aka Emanuele 🙂
    Marina, next time when a car slows down to ask directions, answer them so u’ll surprise them at their ignorance!

    1. That’s awesome of Emanuele. Cart teaches, but he tends to talk more than me, so it gets frustrating … a lot! Italian men needs a lot of attention, I found out 😛

      Nevertheless, I don’t stop all the time when a car slows down … one time, someone asked me, “Una sera per 90 euro, va bene?” I was so amused and my mind got so perplexed, I forgot to get offended!

      1. Of course… not everytime is a pleasant experience when a car slows down. I got ‘an offer’ once too and I had the courage to show my middle finger.
        Up to now, Emanuele still corrects me as and when and I’d say he talks just enough..hahaha

  2. Argh! That happened to me once. A guy asked where a store in my neighborhood was. I gave him directions but he walked away muttering that I didn’t speak Italian. Not. My. Problem.

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