You can learn all the grammar, look up the right vocab, even master the art of dressing less like a tourist but there are certain things that give you away instantly and have locals quickly hitting you up with that most insulting of lines: “Ah… we can speak in English.”
Enrico Piciarelli is one of the super friendly teachers at the language school Koine’ (kitaliano.com) and we tracked him down to give us some linguistic tips; that is, how to fool people into thinking you’re mother tongue… or just not be laughed at for a start.
Being an Anglo-Saxon tongue, English is closer to German rather than to Italian which is a romance language. Italian can be tricky and there are some minor mistakes that occur with a certain frequency, even among fluent speakers.
Here are several examples:
(Can yo go get me a book?)
NO Vai mi prendere il libro? CORRECT Mi vai a prendere il libro?
(I get home and take a photo)
NO Entro la casa e prendo una foto CORRECT Entro in casa e faccio una foto
(I can’t speak Italian)
NO Non posso parlare italiano CORRECT Non so parlare italiano
(I’ve got no money!)
NO Non c’è soldi! CORRECT Non ho soldi!
(This lesson is difficult to understand)
NO Questa lezione è difficile di capire CORRECT Questa lezione è difficile da capire
(How do you manage to arrive so early)?
NO Come fai per arrivare così presto? CORRECT Come fai ad arrivare così presto?