Story Weekend: Foreign Language
John and I plan to travel to Tuscany with some friends in the spring. I grew up with an Italian surname (Lopresti) but my Italian immigrant grandparents wanted their children to be American through and through, so no Italian was spoken in their home and my father had none of the language to share with us. A friend is letting me borrow her Pimsleur Italian CDs and I’m determined to learn “Help! I’m lost!” if nothing else. I’m having fun with it.
How about you? I intentionally left the title of this Story Weekend open-ended so you can write about whatever the words ‘Foreign Language’ mean for you.
If you’re new to Story Weekend, here’s how it works: I pick a theme and you share something from your life that relates to that theme, however you interpret it. Thanks to all of you who’ve contributed. As always, there are a few “rules”:
▪ The story must be true
▪ Try to keep it under 100 words. Embrace the challenge! That’s about six or seven lines in the comment form. I want others to read your story, and most people tend to skip if it’s too long. I know how tough it is to “write tight” but I hope you’ll accept this as a challenge. Happy writing!
Like you, Diane, I grew up in a multi-ethnic area in NJ and had immigrant grandparents (from Eastern Europe). One day, when I was around 7 or 8, I asked my mother what langugae I was going to speak when I became a grandmother. My mother was puzzled, “What?”
“I said, what language am I going to speak when I’m a grandmother?”
My mother asked, “What are you talking about?”
I said, “Well, my grandmother speaks Russian. Laura’s grandmother speaks Spanish. Helen’s grandmother speaks German. Lorraine’s grandmother speaks Armenian. Liberty’s grandmother speaks Greek. Sharon’s grandmother speaks Hebrew. So what language am I going to speak when I’m a grandmother?”
“English,” she said.
“English! I already speak English! What a gyp!” I was so disappointed! I thought as sooon as you became a grandmother, you were assigned a language and given corrective shoes and roll down black stockings!
Alas, my mother was right – now I’m a grandmother, and while I do speak English, I know a few others which helps me in my job as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.
That cracks me up, Donna!
I love Donna’s story! I was never good at picking up foreign languages. I took Latin as a freshman in high school. I got a D the forst semester. After that, I studied (duh!) and pulled up my grade. (By the way, I still give credit to Latin for my being good at knowing word meanings). Then in high school, I took French and as as a college freshman Spanish. After taking my first Spanish test, I failed it, and my professor asked me, “Have you ever taken Italian?” I replied, “No” and asked why he asked. He replied that many of the words I had written on the test were Italian!
Diane W., maybe you were Italian in a former life?
Well sorry but this is where you think me really boring I did French at school (which is like 40 years ago) but never been abroad as I live in England and despite its faults I do love it here I don’t like hot weather so it never really seemed worth the hassle.
You spared yourself a lot of trouble, Jill. 🙂
Thanks Diane I agree I have probably spared myself some trouble but sometimes I wonder a lot of people think I am very weird because I wont join the ‘I must do this because everyone else does’ club. One example is I went on a course once and the question for the ice-breaker was what is your favourite alcoholic drink? Well I am teetotal have been for over 12 years so my reply was ‘None because I am teetotal’ I might as well have held up a ‘Jill is wierd’ banner. After the class my work colleague said why didn’t you just make one up? My reply was why should I lie just to be one of a crowd I don’t want to be one of? Lol
Although born in this country, my mother was Swedish and hadn’t spoken English until she was 5. I, on the other hand only learned 6 words of Swedish. Why then, I wonder did my French teacher tell me I spoke French with a Swedish accent?
My husband and I met in high school Spanish class. My future mother-in-law was the city clerk in our town of about 12,000 people. Her office was housed in the same building as the police station. One day the police received a call that a Hispanic woman would be coming in because her purse had been stolen. None of the police were fluent in Spanish. My future mother-in-law, being proud of her son, offered to have her son act as translator. He sat down with the lady and immediately said “where is your purse”. One of the cops started laughing and said “darn, I didn’t realize I could speak Spanish”. This story has been told over the years in our family and it always causes lots of laughter.