Friday, February 24, 2012


I have a confession to make. I am addicted to playing games like Words with Friends and Wordscraper on Facebook. In an attempt to make this vice somehow productive, I am now playing Wordscraper in Italian. There are two problems with this:

1) I actually know very little Italian.
2) The designers of the game must know even less Italian.

Different languages have different distributions of letters, even if you discount all the accent marks, etc. I bought a Scrabble game while in Spain. (Yes, this obsession goes back before Facebook.) The Spanish version has letters such as "ll", "rr" and "ch."

The designers of Wordscraper, bless their hearts, did not take this into account. Italian does not use the letters "j", "k", "w", "x" or "y" except in foreign words, but it uses a heck of a lot of "a"s, "i"s and "o"s. This can leave one with a bunch of useless letters and no vowels, which is sort of how I feel when I need to say something and my Italian momentarily deserts me. Sometimes, when I'm speaking a foreign language, even my English deserts me and I find myself struggling to say, "My brain isn't working," in any language at all. How do you say, "Senior moment," in Italian?

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Those for whom multilingualism is a foreign (pun intended) concept are probably wondering why in the world I would want to trouble myself learning Italian.  My family doesn't come from Italy and I'm not going there to live or work, so why bother?

The truth is that I just love languages.  Every new language offers me a new insight into a different culture, a new way of experiencing the world, and a whole new set of possible friends.  I love to travel and when I travel, I love to talk to people.  It isn't just that it's handy to be able to ask directions or read the captions in the museums, although those skills are certainly useful.  I like being able to chat with the old woman sitting next to me on the bus.  I'm curious.  I just don't want to miss out on anything.

Today, I attended my first session of a meetup group that gets together on Sunday morning to speak Spanish and I remembered something else I love about studying languages.  I really enjoy other people who love languages.  What a marvelous group of interesting people of all ages and backgrounds!  In general, the people I have met who study languages simply because they want to are intelligent, curious, well traveled and open-minded.  Getting up early on Sunday isn't usually my thing, but I know that I'll be doing so again.

I'm a language addict.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I've never really been a fan of the idea of a blog.  Honestly, I've always thought it rather self indulgent to assume that anyone would want to follow my thoughts on a regular basis.  So, why am I doing this?  Two reasons, really.

After decades of writing nothing more interesting than training manuals, I wanted to start writing again and I was at a loss as to where to begin.  A blog seemed non-threatening.  I'm not committing to writing every day or anything.

The other reason is that I am embarking on another one of my travel adventures.  I will soon be traveling to Montepulciano, Italy to study Italian for a month and then spending another month traveling around Italy on my own.  Studying Italian has already been somewhat of an adventure for me.  I've been writing to B&B owners in Italy and making reservations.  I think I've been communicating.  I guess I won't know for sure until I get there.

This blog will be a place for me to post accounts of my adventures for anyone who wants to follow my peregrinations.  Retirement is a fabulous opportunity for adventure and I'm ready to find it.