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Linguaholic

Buongiorno, Buenos Dias, G'Day, Mate, and Hello!


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I am very glad to find a forum whose members, obviously, love language as much as I do.

In brief: I am a second-generation American (U.S.) whose great-grandparents (as well as one nonna), born in Italy, came to the U.S. via Ellis Island. One great-grandfather came from Portugal via steerage, all by himself at the age of nine, on a long journey that took him around the Cape, circled Australia, and ended in Northern California. He never learned more than a few words of English, although he spent the rest of his life here. Having never met him (nor his son, my grandfather), I never learned Portuguese, save for a few slang words (although I am told I can fake a Portuguese accent very well!).

I was raised on a combination of American English and a common form of Italian (mostly slang), which most native Italians would probably not recognize today. Wanting to learn "proper" Italian, I took classes in high school, so I do understand the basics, but my conversational Italian is sorely lacking.

Other than the native tongues of my ancestors, I can communicate fairly well in American Sign Language, thanks to a number of intensive courses I took as an adult. (I am hearing; ASL was simply a language I always wanted to learn.) My ASL skills are rusty, and my greatest handicap is in understanding ASL as it is signed (I am much better at "sending" than "receiving"), and so my hopes of becoming an ASL interpreter are no more. Still, I enjoy using ASL on those rare occasions it has been useful (outside of my friendships with native Deaf).

Obviously, American English is my native language -- which has been helpful as a casual, volunteer ESL assistant-instructor, and has served as a great source of amusement when conversing with friends of Australian, British and Canadian origin. I am hopelessly in love with the variations among English-speaking countries, and pride myself on my understanding of certain slang words that are perfectly acceptable in one country, while shockingly offensive in another.

Meanwhile... Having grown up in California, one might think I should know a lot more Spanish than I do. Sadly, I can only barely get by with what little Spanish I have picked up by osmosis. I only wish I had taken Spanish classes from childhood on up! (For the record, in my grammar school, we were forced to take French -- for eight long years -- because, we were told, French was going to be "the international language." As it turned out, it wasn't, and isn't -- and, despite many years of classes, my French today is limited to "Sit down," the first verse of a French song or two, and a couple of phrases I dare not repeat in polite company. Ironically, I can communicate in French Sign Language far better than I will ever be able in spoken French, as FSL is the basis of ASL!)

If there's anything specific you would like to know, please feel free to ask! And if there is anything I can do -- with what little expertise I have -- to assist anyone else, just say so, and I will do my best!

 

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Welcome Paisan, although I'm pretty much sure that "mate" means "friend", not "hello". :P

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