Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Language learning is relative....

My father always says that learning Italian is quite easy.

Then he usually goes on saying that the reason why Italian is so easy is that words are pronounced the very way you write them. This is more or less true. We have pronunciation rules, that's all. German too! But we also have a very complicated verbal system composed of several modes and tenses.
At this point in the conversation my sister usually says :"Some modes and tenses are no longer used in Italian!". She refers to passato remoto, and some kind of congiuntivo. Go and ask to southern people if they no longer use passato remoto!!

Passato remoto is used to narrate events that happened very long ago, or at least that's what my teacher told me when I was 6! Speaking Italian I very rarely use passato remoto (telling once-upon-a-time stories, imitating southern people...), a class mate of mine, who come from the south of Italy used passato remoto to tell me about events that occurred the day before...

When I spoke to Elena (American student), during the exchange, I had the opportunity to ask her what is her greatest difficulty speaking Italian. I expected she to say: Italian verb system. She told me several things that were difficult for her, but she didn't mention verbs! I must confess I was a bit disappointed!

My German teacher in my first year at the University, used to underline that Italian is far more complicated than German, because irregular verbs in German show their irregularity in precise "points": 2nd and 3rd singular person, Praeteritum, and Partizip. No more no less. While in Italian you don't know where you can find irregularities.
Anyway someone should remind her that German still have declination for nouns, articles, and adjectives, and there is no way at all to guess the gender of words!

So... time is not the only relative thing, I assume!

No comments: