“To God I speak Spanish, to women Italian, to men French, and to my horse – German.”
― Emperor Charles V
Recently, while talking about my blog with my Italian friends and asking for their feedbacks, I have stumbled across a shared sense of discomfort. Most of them seemed somewhat frustrated. I couldn’t understand. Given that all of them are dear persons to me, I couldn’t help myself to keep on asking “what exactly” was making them feel that way. Italian people are really gentle, so they never want to disturb. However, I become rather obstinate when it comes to finding out something I just have to know. So I kept on insisting. Hoping that sooner or later they would give up and spit it out. Crap.
Meanwhile, I had a time to reflect on all possible reasons. Mostly, I was afraid that my dear friends disliked much of what I’ve written so far about Italian modern society and Italian attitudes. True, a few friends of mine have suggested me that there’s no need to tell the world that “Italians are mammoni, that they love one-night-stands, and tend to be unfaithful”, since it’s been a kind of old news already. Yet, there were no sense of discomfort or frustration while talking about that arguements. Means, there was something else. Crap. Double crap…
Finally, I’ve got my answers. Or better, my definite answer. To my deepest regret, appears like most of my Italian friends are upset with my decision to run the present blog in English. Not that they didn’t know that when I’ve started!
Naturally, I couldn’t help myself wondering why on earth my dear Italian friends are so upset with English language? Here is as much as I have found out.
“Why in English? We are in Italy here!” Sad but true, I was mildly reproved by most of my Italian friends for writing posts in English only.
As I was trying to explain to my Italian friends, the initial idea of this blog was to talk to the world about Modern Italian culture, in-depth mentality and social trends. About Italians just as they are. Just as I have stated in my first post “How This Blog Works or Sincere Spiritual Investigation“.
When I’ve started my cultural research, I was imagining that revealing Italian contradictory believes and attitudes can generate interest among people from all over the world. But to no extent I was expecting that it can awaken ever increasing interst among Italian people as well.
Seriously, what’s the point to explain one nation the way it is? Are Italians really curious to learn that mainly they eat sweet croissants for breakfast and use a pedal to turn on water in public places? Like it wouldn’t be old news for them.
Appears like Italian people actually want to learn more about their appearance. Just the way the cultural attitudes of other nations may appear weird to Italian people, they are curious to know what of their own “natural” behaviours may appear strange from outside. Seems valid point to me, after all. Hence objection rejected and reproof sustained.
In recent years it has been globally agreed that English is – and will remain within foreseeable future – the world’s lingua franca. Seriously, English language represents an international language mediating world trade and communications in a very wide range of purposes and contexts. English is the universal language of the Internet, motion pictures, music and sports. Let alone travelling! Furthermore, over 80% of the world’s scientific, academic and technological publications are in English. It is also the diplomatic language spoken in the corridors of power.
In other words, English is widely recognized as a window to success and a “gateway to wealth” by national governments, organizations and individuals [Graddol, David 2006. English Next. p. 38]. There is not the slightest doubt, that English has achieved the status as the global lingua franca.
Hence everyone in today’s world supposed to speak and understand English, at least to some extent! For God’s sake, it’s like using mobile devices and modern digital technoligies. Nevertheless, some people, by one or another, reason are linguistically backward. Let’s respect that.
Hence, second objection rejected as well.
What I do appreciate about Italian people is that they are free of any sort of inferiority complex and thus sincere when talking about their difficulties. So, an overwhelming majority of mine Italian followers (both close friends of mine and my “friends” form Social Networks), confessed that they have difficulties to understand, or even read, texts in English. Only a few said that they have no problems about it.
Yet, when it comes to leave a reply, express their approval or disapproval, start a discussion… Italian people are simply afraid to put it in bad English. All they think about is a grammar mistake. As if they are still middle school students. (Seems like I wasn’t wrong about Italian Peter Pan’s complex after all! And now I start thinking it is the only mental complex Italian people have and share).
Since when the shape of words became more important than their meaning?
Google Translate as Partial Solution
My Italian followers mildly confessed that often, if they think the argument written in English is not much of their interest, they just skip it. Instead whether the post results attractive, they “si impegnano” (do a hard work) to read it with the help of Google Translate. They do “doppia fatica” (double effort) since this tool is far beyond of beeing precise and often they have to make sense of translated text on their own. That is, rearrange the meaning of Google Translate translated words. And God only knows if the obtained result actually corrisponds to the original version!
Logically, these Italian friends of mine do that or because they know me personaly, or because they have participated in the survey so they wanted to learn what the outcome was like. But my guess is that Italian people use Google Translate to understand English texts of whatever origin on every day basis, regarding every life aspect or necessity: whether personal or professional.
At the end of the day, one thing is clear. My dear and loving Italian friends, and no less dear followers, are all upset with my language choice. And I don’t like people to be upset with me. Let alone people I care about! Therfore, I’ve made a decision to create an Italian version of the present blog. God please help me! Probably, I won’t I see the day light within next two months…
Anyway, I intend to do that any time soon! So if meanwhile I post less, you know why.
What is your personal experience of communicating with Italian people in English? Tell about it…
And if there is anyone having a clue why Italians are so reluctant to learning foreign languages, I”ll be happy if you share!
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)