Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Jun. 26, 2014 - 6:26 a.m.

Il cane mangia una formica

Woo hoo! Barring any unforeseen complications, I'm getting my cast off today. Six weeks of guilting NewWifey(tm) into opening my beers is about to come to an end. I know she's not gonna let me forget that, either. For the next freakin' YEAR she'll probably demand I do things I couldn't do before, like acknowledge her presence or stop hiding her insulin. She can be petty that way.

In the meantime I've been enjoying my last few days of freedom by attempting to better myself. And by "better myself" I mean "make myself annoying to even MORE people".

I'm learning a foreign language.

Yeah, I know. I should just be content with my extraordinary ability to mangle English. Few are able to match the depths I'm able to sink to in that realm after all, as anyone who's ever read my stuff here will quickly attest. But no. I insist on spreading my talent to other tongues.

Why? Well, like most Americans I look with suspicion on anyone who can't speak English (including the English). They're obviously just not trying. And that makes it hard for us Americans to get properly deferential service when we travel to less civilized countries. Like not-America. So in the interest of promoting world peace and the ability to order a simple cup of coffee without having to repeat myself three times while making an exaggerated cup-lifting motion, I'm making it my mission to learn the phrase "Stop being stupid. Learn English" in as many of these sub-languages as possible. How could anyone, even the English, not be won over by a charm offensive like that?

I'm starting with Italian, mostly because I'm already familiar with many of the hand gestures from having grown up in Wop-East, New Jersey. That covers grammar. I'm also pretty adept with their curses and food terms for the same reason. I figure that combination means I'm about 40% proficient right out of the starting gate. This should be a snap. In a couple of weeks I'll be ready for a professorship at the University of Bologna, practically. After which I can tackle a REALLY backward language: British.

So I found this website "duolingo.com" that offers free lessons and an innovative technique and got started. In the past week I've gone through levels covering gender, animals, plurals, "to be" conjugations, and a few others, all the while earning "lingots" - their virtual currency which can be used to purchase bonus items - and participating in their member forums. I've really stuck with it, spending 2 - 3 hours a day on the site.

And you know what?

I suck at Italian.

I really do. Some of the problem is that the computer generated voice that Duolingo has you follow along with sounds like it was recorded on a potato. Seriously, Marlee Matlin would have been a better choice. But a lot of it is that...I just suck at Italian. After at least 20 hours cumulative of nose-to-the-keyboard study the only phrase I can remember is "Il cane mangia una formica". "The dog eats an ant." That's an actual phrase we had to translate.

And that's not going to be very useful when I'm lecturing at Bologna U.

Anyway, at this point I'm not sure if I'm going to give up my studies, and with it any hopes of world harmony. This "White Man's Burden" really weighs heavy on me. Can't those stupid furriners all come to their senses and learn to speak a REAL language without me prodding them? Sheesh. No wonder we have to keep tabs on them with drones. How can you trust anyone who doesn't understand a simple "coffee, chop chop!" to act rationally?

Oops, look at the time! Gotta scoot and get this cast off so I can finally use both my arms again. Hey - that should improve my Italian skills! Maybe I'll stick with it after all.

Ciao, stunade!



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