Lost in translation: She thought she has mastered the basics of Italian, but she found she still had a lot to learn.
By Kristi James, from the March 3, 2009 edition
Copyright © 2009 The Christian Science Monitor
It’s funny how languages work. I’ve been in Italy for some months now, studying diligently, and just when I think I have things figured out, I’m wrong. I check the dictionary to find what appears to be the right word, but time and again I’m told that I’m wrong. As it turns out, in addition to learning the words, I also have to learn the cultural implications that go with those words.
One example is orgoglioso (proud). I have heard several times that Americans are just so “proud." According to my dictionary, “proud" means “to have proper respect for oneself, one’s work, one’s family, etc." And so I nod my head, sit up a little taller, and agree that yes, we are proud.
What took me a while to understand is that for Italians, “to be proud" is not a compliment. What we think of as self-confidence, they think of as self-importance.
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