Monday, February 02, 2009

Native Tongue

In the second half of "Me Talk Pretty One Day," David Sedaris talks about his move to Paris and the difficulties therein, many involving his quest to learn the French language. It's one of the more hysterical pieces of prose I've read, and after I finish this Italian class, I think I might go read it again, just because I'll be able to feel his pain on a more personal level.
Except for one very disastrous semester of German in college ("Mmmm, Herr Sutton! Late again, are we?"), I've never taken a foreign language before. The first semester of Italian wasn't too difficult since we just learned basic words and phrases and mostly imitated the instructor. This semester, however, is much more challenging. We're conjugating verbs and placing direct-object pronouns. Our Professoressa is not just teaching us the way things are said, she's teaching us why they're said that way. In a way, it's almost like learning English grammar all over again, as I have to mentally go back to Mrs. Gish's fourth grade class to remind myself what infinitives and past participles are. If you thought that stuff was confusing back then, imagine how much worse it is in another language.
This week, while doing my homework, I came across this in the book:
"The article is not used when a possessive adjective precedes a singular noun that refers to a relative. The article is used, however, if the noun referring to relatives is plural or if it is modified by an adjective or a suffix."
...and then my brain started bleeding.

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