Eat Spaguetti and Learn Italian


Sofi: Maybe you’re a woman in search of a word.

An Italian dictionary can save your life. Seriously. Have you ever listened to Italian? Is it not the most musical language ever? I smell pizza and flowers in Tuscany when I listen to my Italian friend speaking her mother tongue…

A couple of weeks ago I watched Eat, Pray, Love with my writing friend Yamuna. The films starts with a writer who has everything you can imagine (hey, a writer who HAS material wealth!). Yet she wakes up one day in the middle of the night beside her perfect husband, goes to the perfect living room in her perfect house and starts crying, begging fod God to take her out from a perfect life she hates. At first I wanted to slap this character in the face (she lives in New York like a star and she makes a living on her words… what’s there not to like?) but then I couldn’t avoid to empathise with her. Because I’ve also have felt that emptiness that starts bitting your soul from the inside, rotting every form of happiness. Depression. But that’s another story.

Our – spoiled – writer ends her marriage and leaves her home but happiness is not something she can easily get. After another frustrated relationship, she buys an Italian dictionary… and there, my friends, there she starts seeing the light.

It also helps she’s an English speaker and a Medicine Man from a lost village in Indonesia wants to learn English  – who doesn’t want to learn English these days? in exchange from all his ancient wisdom

That’s precisely why I decided to become a language teacher. Because languages  – as medicine – are two things you must learn from someone else at some point. So I thought, even if the Zombie Apocalypse comes, I’m still going to be needed. The more languages I know, the better – for the moment I can manage in Spanish, English and Japanese quite decently and I might enlarge the list soon.

In one of the scenes in the movie this writer is taking a bubble bath – bubble baths look always so perfect in movies… and they’re so messy in real life! – and reading aloud Italian words. That heals her broken heart and leads her to Italy. Even if she just spends there three months, she starts learning Italian when she realises she’s not going to get coffee unless she knows how to ask for it in proper Italian.

Want to learn Italian as well? Apparently you don’t need much more than a few dramatic geastures…

I have to mention that her Italian teacher is the most attractive man you could possibly find in Rome – I learned Japanese with an old, grandma-like lady, but oh well, I guess I was just unlucky… They have the lessons eating wonderful Italian food in expensive restaurants at night – I advise you, don’t watch this movie with an empty stomach. No wonder why she improved her Italian so fast. Perhaps I should try that teaching method with my Spanish tutoring here in England? Me in a fancy pub in Lancaster – perhaps The White Cross? – with high heels, an tight evening dress and my red lipstick, teaching a guy how to pronounce tenedor correctly. Yeah, I can do that.

Another interesting scene in the film is when in Rome – this woman shouldn’t have left Italy, to be honest – people discuss what their word is. A single word for just one person? I don’t know, usually I need tons and tons of words to describe my characters, but I guess in a Zen mode I could try to find the word to describe them.

So presumably this writer spends all that year thinking about her word. She gets a Brazilian boyfriend along the way – international boyfriends imply more fun, you’re guaranteed to learn at least how to curse and say I love you in another language – and finally decides that an Italian word – not an English one – is her word. Do you want to know which one? Well, go and watch the movie…

My word – in case someone is wondering – would be in Japanese for sure, a kanji I could beautiful draw everywhere I go. I feel that foreigner languages have more power as in mine all the words have been used so much that they have lost their colour, as clothes washed thousands of times. They are not bright or exciting any more.

What’s your word?

Would it be in your mother tongue or in another language?


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