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“I think to assume a cough.” 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Good times at work, buddy. The adventure continues. Just the other day, when I asked one of my students if he was going to spend the holidays with his family in Milan, he said, “Yes, for Christmas and Happy New Year.” Meanwhile, about a month ago, while one of my students was telling me a story about how he’d been the victim of his girlfriend’s rage, reenacting the argument, he pointed to his chest and said, “Because I?” (Instead of “Why me?”) Another time, I asked a student to translate a sentence from Italian to English, and he said, “If the airplane up get late, I’ll call you.” When I told him his translation for decollare (which in English is ‘to take off’) was wrong, he said, “How kind of verb am I use to decollare?”

The fun never ends, my friend, not when you’re teaching English in Italy. One day last week, a student came to class having written the following two sentences for homework: “If they had have a holiday day, they go on the beach” and “If him had a pen and a paper, him wrote a letter.” That same day, a female student said “to fun myself” instead of “to enjoy myself”. I enjoyed myself hearing her mistake (though I’d have preferred to fun myself). This is the same student who once said “in my imaginarius” instead of “in my mind”.

Of course, Shaw old pal, as you can imagine, some of these mistakes take some thinking about. For example, a few years ago, one of my students came to the lesson and said, “I think to assume a cough.”

“Are you sick?” I asked.

Her eyebrows bunched together as she shook her head and said “no”. So I said, “Then why do you think you’re getting a cough?”

“Yes,” she responded. “I might do.”

I took a deep breath, then said, “What does ‘cough’ mean?”

“In English?”

“Yes, in English.”

She screwed up her eyes and said, “I don’t understand.”

“You said you think you’re getting a cough, right? Then you must be feeling sick or something. Are you sick?”

“Sick is malato?

“Exactly,” I said. “So why, for what reason, do you think you’re getting a cough?”

“Because it’s a luxury I can permit.”

Now thoroughly baffled, I suspected she was saying something other than what I thought I understood. So I said, “When you say ‘cough’, do you mean…” and then I covered my mouth and coughed.

She sat up straight, suddenly, and asked, “Cough isn’t la donna delle pulizie?

Finally realizing she had confused the word “cough” for “cleaning lady”, it also hit me that assumere means “to hire” in English. She was thinking of hiring a maid.

Good times at work, buddy, as I said, the fun never ends. I’ll keep you posted if any other quotables occur. For now, how kind of verb am I use to goodbye?

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